Chapeau! Photo shoot in the Pyrenees- Women’s specific range

Chapeau! is a company started by cyclists for any one who enjoys riding a bike. They produce clothes that are high quality but also great value. Being cycle consumers themselves they have created kit that’s bang on, it looks good, fits well is affordable and still very functional.

This week I had the chance to travel with Chapeau! to the Pyrenees for a 4 day point to point tour starting in France and moving through Andorra and Spain. Living in the French alps I am used to being surrounded by mountainous landscapes but one thing I love about the mountains in that they are all so different.

We started our tour landing in Toulouse and heading to St- Gaudens for the first night. Driving from Toulouse there are big skys and rolling hills but when when you get to St-Gaudens which is right on the edge of the Pyrenees national park you come face to face with huge snow capped mountains. The Pyrenees has an untamed feel to it, wild and rugged. Captivating anyone with any sense of adventure.

The first evening it was cold and wet but Dexter, James (the 2 male models) and I were keen to get out for a look around and spin on our bikes, it was also the perfect conditions to test out some of the Chapeau! winter kit. I wore the ladies merino base layer, long repel bibtights and mistral jacket, the kit is designed to repel water and dirt, be warm and still comfortable. The kit defiantly does all of those things, we heading out on a fast 40km out and back into the countryside there was a lot of water coming up off the roads but i stayed dry. Throughout the week I also wore this combination for early morning rides when the mountain air still has a chill to it. One of the best things for me is that all the kit is women specific so the cut is flattering and the design is feminine and in stylish colours- I love the rust colour of the jacket it defiantly stands out so your visible when riding.

The next morning it was an early start and busy shooting schedule. Coffee, pastries  and a fully packed car headed off into the mountains. The sun came out as we headed up the col de Menté, its a demanding climb so for this shoot we used the Chapeau! Madeleine performance range. These jerseys are light weight and made from a more technical material . There are two main pockets at the back for extra layers, a little zip waterproof pocket for coffee & cake cash then two side pockets great for stuff you need to get to quick i used these for gels and gloves. I’ve never worn a jersey before with this pocket combination but it works! It feels racy and comes in a range of fun fresh colour combinations. I love the yellow jerseys with light blue polka dots- for events and big rides this summer this is defiantly going to be what i’m wearing.

That evening we drove through Andorra and into Spain, this is where we were going to be based for the next two nights. The mountains in the Spanish Pyrenees are smaller than the French but they are steep and there are lots of them. The photographer who as with us is Spanish so was able to explain a lot about the local traditions, cuisine and culture. In Spain we stayed in a little hotel at 1000m above sea level – above the tree line. Meaning big barren landscapes, steep sets of switchbacks and little lost mountain villages. You felt like you could head off and pedal for hours and not see another person or car! Off the main network of roads and climbs you could spot a network of fire roads one thing I’ve learn from my time in the Alps that quite often if you go off the beaten track away from the famous climbs you can end up in some of the most incredible places. In the mountains you should never resist the urge to explore and we headed off down some of these fire roads and pedaled down some of the smaller less direct roads the scenery was stunning.

One of the best things about cycling is the social side, doing a ride with friends then stopping for coffees and snacks. 4 days on the bike equates to a lot of coffee stops. We cycled through a mix of local villages and larger base towns. Here we tried out the Chapeau! Cafe jerseys. This is a range with a slightly more relaxed edge. Its kit you feel comfortable wearing both on the road, in a cake shop or wondering round town in. Its still got a lot of the features of the performance range, you still have a secure waterproof zip pocket and two main rear pockets. The material and shape is more casual but there is still a silicon hem to ensure the pockets stay where they should be. The jerseys are versatile without any loss of functionality, you could wear one with a set of bibs and head out on a big ride or throw it on with some jeans and pop to the shop.

The Pyrenees is defiantly somewhere I would like to go back to and explore more. The whole trip was brilliant, the riding was varied – there were steep climbs, fast descends and coffee shop cruising with kit that was up to the challenge.

Its great to know there are people out there making high quality kit that looks good for girls that ride bikes.

Advertisements

Chapeau! photo shoot in Pyrenees

chapeau

I’m stoked to be heading to Toulouse tomorrow morning on an early morning flight for a 4 day photo shoot with Chapeau! and total women’s cycling magazine. It a 4 day point to point tour taking in some of the best spots in the area, lots of outfit changes and i’m sure some awesome photos. I’m a big fan of Chapeau I have one of their cafe jerseys, cap and also use their skin care range which makes this gig even more exciting! …. (write up to follow).

Heels on Wheels – meeting ladies who ride FAST in the French Alps

I first got a road bike from my parents when I was 17 and rode to raise money for The British Heart foundation from London to Paris. After that my bike collected a bit of dust before becoming a cheaper, faster alternative to public transport in London.

I was introduced to the mountains at a young age, my Mum did a season when she was younger and is a great skier so I have plenty of memories of building snowmen & attempted igloos when I was small.

peakSunrise in the Alps

Living & working in London was amazing, so much fun. Brilliant friends and working as a personal trainer there are so many opportunities. Although the lifestyle is full on, I fancied trying something different and headed to the Alps for what was supposed to be a single winter season.

5 years later i’m still here. I came out for the snowboarding but the longer I have been here the more I have discovered, I now own a lot of kit and have met so many inspiring people. 2 years ago I brought my road bike over for the summer as I was leading cycling trips for ladies round Lake Annecy. A whole new style of cycling opened up to me, I was used to razzing round London dodging buses, waiting at traffic lights and weaving through pedestrians. But out in the Alps you can head up into the mountains, hardly see any cars, get away from the ski resorts into little villages, conquering big climbs then flying down fast weaving descents.

anacyCycling in Annecy (Alpine Fit Club)

Its a steep learning curve though – climbing is challenging. I spent my first summer road biking pedaling up hill as far as possible then when my legs stopped working descending back to the front door. Near the end of the summer I drove to Alp D’Huez and decided it was time to try a ‘proper’ climb. It was hard 21 bends over 12km but I did it – got to the top celebrated with a beer and decided then that I wanted to get better and better and not have to relive the initial struggle to gain enough strength and fitness. From that moment on I’ve been addicted….

bridgeEmily, Colin and me. 2 of my good friends who introduced me to Alpine Cycling

Since then I have been out on my bike year round sun, rain and snow! Last summer I took on my first multi day challenge riding from Bourg to the Beach, over Europe’s highest Cols and Passes. This summer I decided I wanted to step up my riding and start entering events. I didn’t know what to expect as a girl riding mixed events. I’ve also mainly cycled with groups of men so wasn’t sure how i would shape up in comparison to other women.

road ridingWinter training in the snow

I’ve now completed my first event of the summer in Imola, Italy, entering both the 15km Time Trial and Gran Fondo. All my trainig seems to be paying off I can 3rd in the Time Trial and completed the 160km Gran Fondo in 6H15 (quicker than I was aiming for).

podiumThird place at the Imola Time Trial

I really enjoyed riding with ladies, you feel as though you are on a level playing field and are in a position to be competitive. Since being back in Bourg this summer I have joined a group called ‘ Birds on Bikes’ it really motivating to know that there are lots of other women in the Valley riding bikes, training hard and exploring the mountains. There moto is ‘ Girls in the Tarentaise valley who like to meet up for road bike rides. Boys/hubbies are allowed to join the rides provided they ride WITH us and pay for the coffees!!!!!’.

One of the ‘Birds’ and I went on a 100km ride this week and it was awesome time flew, chatting the whole way, stopping for coffees and lunch but keeping a good pace. Its reassuring to ride with someone your level and chat about bikes, events and cycling from a female prospective. There is a women’s event being held in Vercours on the 24th May which I have entered, I’m super excited to be part of a women’s only race and even more now that I know there will be some familiar faces en route 🙂

climbing