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Innovations in Cycling

21 Aug 2015 07:58:40

  1. The Very First Bicycle
    Wooden Bike
    Let’s start at the beginning shall we – and we mean the very beginning. Well, not as far back as the wheel (which was invented in Mesopotamia around 3500 BC and was not for transportation, but rather a potter’s wheel). We’re looking at the very first bicycle. The term was coined in France in the 1860s, but the very first evidence of a bicycle type machine was in Germany in 1817. The first means of transportation with two wheels arranged consecutively was the German draisine. It was a two-wheeled vehicle that was propelled by the rider pushing along the ground with their feet, either by walking or running. The front wheel and handlebar was also hinged to allow for steering. It may seem basic now, but this simple innovation led to the modern bicycle, which slowly equipped with chains, pedals, gears, and brakes over time.

  2. Brakes
    Bike Brakes
    Ah brakes, where would we be without you? If the design of the draisine is anything to go by, braking was once a process of using your feet alone to slow down or stop your bike. Not very convenient if you want to stop suddenly. Once bicycles were designed to get more speed, they also had to look at more effective ways of stopping. One of the first designs was a metal lever that pressed a wooden pad against the rear wheel. Brake innovation came about with the introduction of cable operated brakes. These brakes transmit mechanical force or energy by the movement of an inner cable, allowing for easier front and rear braking.


  3. Light Frames
    Bike Frame
    The first bicycles started out as a wooden structure, so really anything would be an improvement. But it was the lightweight, thin-wall frame tubing that revolutionised the speed and usability of the bicycle. The lightweight metal tube frames became popular around the 1930s, and in that year’s Tour de France, cyclist’s speeds increased more than at any other time in history. There are variations on the thin-wall frames now, with carbon and other materials being widely used, but it was this first innovation with metal to manipulate frame thickness and lightness that changed the way we ride.

  4. Pneumatic Tires
    Bike Tyers
    Bicycle tires are now air-filled, but once they were just wooden wheels surrounded by tires made of iron. This earned them their name as “Boneshakers”, as they were very uncomfortable to ride, literally shaking riders to the bone. The pneumatic tyre was patented in Scotland by Robert William Thomson in 1845, some 43 years before John Dunlop's re-invention. It essentially means a tire inflated with air, but this innovation in bike gear meant that riders could cycle with more comfort and at much greater speeds.


  5. Cycling Clothing and Safety
    Cycle Clothing
    Just like the early bicycles, cycle clothing was once very heavy and cumbersome, and most of the initial cycle clothing was made of wool, making it scratchy, heavy, and water retentive. An Italian tailor named Armando Castelli was the first person to introduce silk jerseys in the 40s, which were much lighter and more breathable. Then in the 70’s came Lycra, a fabric that combined polyester with elastic and made the rider more aerodynamic.

    So, we now had speed, but what about safety? We are so used to seeing high-visibility bike gear and cycling accessories now, but the concept first came to the UK in 1964 for experimental use on Scotland’s railway tracks, with vests used to give track workers more visibility. It was a success, and from there high-visibility material trickled down into cycling accessories and clothing. For a long time, reflective panels were used to catch the eye, but it was clear that for rider’s safety, they needed to be as reflective as possible.

    The idea behind Proviz, for example, rested on the lack of highly innovative, light-emitting and reflective cycling products. Their material was unique to the market; made from 100% reflective material so that the cyclist were highly visible at night and could be seen from every angle. This all-round reflectiveness in cycle clothing and cycling accessories is at the forefront of cycling safety, and the innovation is helping to reduce cycling injury and death. We have come a long way from the heavy woollen cycle clothing of the early riders, we are now riding safely, efficiently, and with speed, and looking pretty good while doing it. 
    Hi Viz Jacket 
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Cycle safety

16 Jul 2015 07:54:14

Cycling to and from work every day, it’s easy to become comfortable with your route, for the ride to become second nature, but one of the most important things when it comes to cycling safety is being alert and riding with knowledge. Knowledge of your bike, knowledge of the road, and knowledge of cycling with cars. There are so many ways that bicycles and cars can collide, with both minor and major consequences. It’s important to know how to approach certain road and driving situations and to act quickly and intelligently. 

 London Cyclist

Here are 3 road scenarios that you should familiarise yourself with:

  1. Driver emerging on your left from an intersecting road, driveway, or parking lot.
    This one is notoriously dangerous, as both you and the driver may have little warning. It’s very important to slow down as soon as you see a hazard ahead, but don’t suddenly put the brakes on either, as your tires could lock up. If you don’t have time to break safely, try to pull out further to your right if the road is clear. It is also important to always be highly visible, and especially at night to wear reflective gear to give the driver more warning. If you know your route and any of its hazardous side roads, always ride slowly - it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  2. Parked car door opens in front of you.
    This scenario is used a lot in slap stick comedy, but it is actually a very serious and dangerous situation. If you are riding past parked or stopped cars, try to be far enough to the right that you are giving yourself and the car a door width of space. Also, remember to ride slowly and this will give you more time to react.

  3. A car passes you and then immediately tries to turn left.
    This is a particularly dangerous one, as drivers assume they will have time to overtake and turn off the road to their left before causing any trouble, but it is not always the case. Make sure you are checking behind you in traffic and try to be aware of cars movements, attach mirrors to your bike if need be. If you see a driver coming up alongside you, make sure you remain alert. If you are riding at night, it is important to have your headlight and reflective gear on, so the car can see you from behind when they try to turn.    

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Exercising on a Budget

16 Jul 2015 07:50:54

Exercising can not only seem like hard work, it can also cost a surprising amount. Think about gym fees, personal training costs, equipment costs and travel to and from your location of choice. But exercise doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, there are countless ways to exercise for very little, or even for free!

Outdoors Exercise

  1. Take up walking or running
    This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get some exercise. It will only cost you the amount of some proper trainers, and after that you can walk and run for absolutely nothing. The bonus is that you can do it at any time and any place that suits you.
    Budget level: £ 
  2. Cycling
    Riding a bike can be great for exercise, socialising, and even sightseeing. It may seem a little pricey initially when purchasing a bicycle and essential equipment (ie. helmet, reflective clothing, lights), but after that first purchase, cycling won’t cost you a thing. There are heaps of free riding clubs all over the country and you have the freedom to get some exercise anytime you choose.
    Budget level: ££
  3. Search for free class offers
    This option is entirely free, all you have to do is a bit of researching. Sportswear shops like Nike, Asics, Reebok and Luluemon offer a range of free classes, from running clubs, interval training, yoga, cardio, and pilates. Take a look at their websites and see what they offer. On top of this, many parks around London offer free exercise groups, with organisations like Parkrun UK offering free, weekly 5km runs in some of London’s leafy parks. Check out their website for details.
    Budget level: Free!
  4. Exercise as a group
    Take advantage of team sports to give you some much needed exercise. Kicking a ball around the park, or playing some amateur basketball won’t cost you a thing and you can get in some socialising time as well. Also, if you want to play on an actual field, or court, the fees will still be low once you divide the costs between everyone.
    Budget level: £
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5 Summer Fitness Fads

1 Jul 2015 15:29:24

Every Summer, the Proviz team likes to make a record of the latest and best fitness exercises taking the world by storm. This is because mixing up your workout routine is a great way to keep pushing the body and stay healthy without getting bored.

To make things easier we even put our Top 5 Summer 2015 Fitness Fad together in one simple infographic - so enjoy, and don't forget to stay safe!

Fitness fads infographic

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The 5 Most Dangerous Rides

25 Jun 2015 01:44:04

Here is our list of some of the most extreme and thrilling cycling trails from around the world! Caution, not for the feint of heart!

Death Road, Bolivia.
Death Road Bolivia 

Possibly the most famous dangerous ride, Bolivia’s Yungas Road, not far from the capital La Paz, is known as Death Road and it most certainly lives up to its name. The trail has so far killed 22 cyclists and in 2006 one estimate stated that 200 to 300 travellers were killed yearly along the road. But that doesn’t stop it being a top tourist attraction.

Thrill seekers flock to the trail, which is predominately down-hill. Stretching for 30 kilometres, it starts at 4,700m above sea level and ends at 1,200m above sea level, meaning cyclists descend 3,500m in about 3 hrs. The road is extremely narrow and winding in parts, and strewn with boulders, which is usually where riders fall. After you survive the ride, you get a t-shirt with the words “I’m a Death Road Survivor” on it, so it’s all worth it right?

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher 

Not actually known as a cycling trail, the narrow, crumbling cliff face along the Cliffs of Moher have been attempted by a few intrepid cyclists. In County Clare, in south-west Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher have long been a tourist attraction, but only for looking at from afar.

Swiss cycler Hans Rey made the attempt to navigate the narrow cliff face, at times only 4 inches wide. If you make even the slightest mistake, you would fall nearly 200 meters into the North Atlantic below. Not only that, but strong ocean winds are known to rip along the cliffs, even sweeping people off the rocky edges. Any takers?

The Garbanzo trail, Whistler, Canada
Garbanzo Trail, Canada 

The entire Whistler Mountain bike park boasts 65 trails for mountain bikers. Hailed as the most dangerous is the Garbanzo trail – higher, steeper and more rugged than any others. The path weaves through trees downhill, with tree roots, giant boulders and sheer drops dotted along the way. The ride is a bumpy one, regulars have told people to strengthen their forearms to cope with the jarring descent down the trail. The good thing about the area is that it’s well populated and visited, so if you do come unstuck, you won’t find yourself too far from help. 

Maritime Alps, France
Maritime Alps, France 

The Alps in France are more known for their skiing, so cycling along them is reserved only for the summer months. Still, that doesn’t mean that weather, like snow and rain, won’t get in your way. The trails are unpredictable, some describing them as inaccessible and slightly treacherous. Some of the narrow trails were once military gravel roads built along the crests of the mountains, and these are now the target for thrill seeking mountain bikers.

The ridge lines and hairpin turns make up most of the trail, with the hillside dropping away steeply on either side. Some riders even take the extremely narrow goat ledges on the side of the mountains for the extra touch of danger. The trail becomes so narrow in parts that cyclists have to dismount and carry their bikes along the treacherous ledges. Sounds like a walk in the park.

Lunch Line and King Kong, Utah, America
Cycling Trails, Utah 

Utah is well known as a daredevil’s playground. With five national parks, the rocky mountains and deep, winding canyons, it’s calling out to be hiked and to be ridden. Little wonder it’s where Aron Ralston was hiking when he fell and crushed his arm underneath a boulder. The mountains of Utah are clearly dangerous, but the call of danger is drawing people to Utah, where some of the most dangerous mountain bike trails exist. With fairly innocuous names like Lunch Line, King Kong, and Flying Monkey, the trails are not forgiving.

Most of the trails are tire width, following the rocky crest of the side of a mountain. Boulders, dry shrubs and sheer drops to either side line the trail. But that’s nothing compared to the drops between levels of the decent, some several meters high. These trails are not for the faint hearted. Videos of some of the attempts need to be seen to be believed. One has reached nearly 2 million on YouTube, and it’s easy to see why. 

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4 Things to do in Summer

19 Jun 2015 01:01:30

Summer is a time when people are happier and the days are longer. Whether these things coincide directly is hard to tell. But there are certain things that happen every summer without fail. Here’s what we’re doing in summer.

English summer

  1. Summer is about warmer temperatures and going to the park and lazing about in the sun. Admit it, you spend your lunch breaks, your afternoons, your weekends in the park. Basically any free moment you have is spent laying on the grass. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Soaking up vitamin D is good for your skin, your bones and your wellbeing. So get that picnic blanket, or even those swimmers, and go lie in the grass with everyone else. 

  2. Nothing will stop the English beach holiday. But as many nice beaches as there are along our coast, there are twice as many terrible ones. Some of the nation’s nicest beaches are in Devon and Cornwall, with high cliffs and sandy beaches. But there is the uglier side of the beach holiday. Rubbish, trolleys, hard rocks and filthy water, all of these make for a very unsatisfying beach getaway. Places like Chesil Cove and Holes Bay in Dorset have been rated the dirtiest beaches in Britain. Uh oh. Remember to choose wisely.
  3. After work drinks can actually take place in sunshine. Gone are the days of finishing work in the dark and meeting for after-work drinks in the stuffy corner of a pub. The summertime means you can enjoy your afternoons in the sun and de-stress after a long day at work. Nothing makes a beer or a jug of Pimms taste better than when it’s glinting in the sunshine. Make the most of it though, because like every year, it will be over in a flash.
  4. People can finally do things outside that they’ve been cooped up inside doing all winter, like exercising. It’s not impossible to exercise outside in winter, even we know that, but it just seems so unappealing when there’s somewhere warm and heated to do it instead. Summer is the time to finally put into motion all those exercise goals you’ve had since winter. Now there’s no excuse (except maybe number 3, see above). So dust off those runners, maybe slap on a bit of sunscreen, and go and enjoy summer. To help get you in the exercising mood, check out our range of high quality sportswear!
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