29 March 2014

Bicycles and Brews - Good & Proper Tea at Tokyobike...

Coffee and bikes - a well known combination loved by many cyclists, including myself... but what if I said the same could apply to tea? Always partial to a good Rosie Lee (well, I am from East London!), I’ve been enjoying some quality blends recently - so I was thrilled and intrigued when Tokyobike invited me round for a cuppa or two at the Good & Proper Tea Brew Bar which was in residence at their shop for four weeks.

They say that tea in hot weather cools you down, so the surprise spring heat a few weekends ago was the perfect chance to hop on my Pashley, head to Shoreditch and put the theory into action surrounded by bicycles... not a bad way to spend the afternoon. 

Set up at the back, the Good & Proper Tea Brew Bar looked completely at home in the simplistic and stylish surroundings of the shop, like it had been there all the time. Neil of Tokyobike told me that it was very well received by customers coming in to browse at bicycles. There is something quite nice about shopping for your potential new bike / accessories while making the decision over a delicious cuppa...

I was greeted by the lovely and knowledgeable Harriet who was running the Brew Bar for Emilie that afternoon. With a shared love of tea and cycling, we immediately got talking about this much loved drink, and the best methods to achieve the perfect pot. As Harriet explained, the world of tea is an exciting and complex one - with factors from the flavour of the leaf, to the temperature of the water and steeping time, there is more to the humble leaf than meets the eye. 

My cups of Oolong Yellow Gold and Darjeeling were amazing and certainly very refreshing after my cycle in the sunshine... and it was fantastic to finally check out Good and Proper Tea after all this time! The relationship between coffee and bikes will always be a staple of the cycling lifestyle, but tea certainly has a place in there too... Tokyobike did a pretty clever thing getting the Brew Bar in, and would be ace to see it back there again soon (Keeps fingers crossed for a permanent fixture).

If you're in London and would like to try Good and Proper Tea, you can find them in their H Van at Kings Cross (weekdays) and Brockley Market (weekends). They will also be hosting the tea stop at this years London Tweed Run, so if you're on it, you'll have a lovely brew!

Huge thanks to Tokyobike for the invitation and letting me park my Pashley in the shop for the day. 

23 February 2014

A CycleStyle Mix...

It's been a little while since I've put one of these together and my CycleStyle radar has been going off like mad with clothing and accessories being brought to my attention! With Spring attempting to make an appearance and me itching to get out and do some longer rides (especially on my new bike) here's a little selection of what's caught my eye... 

1) Women's Cotton Rain Trousers - Vulpine: These trousers are a perfect fit for both on and off the saddle. Made from Epic Cotton, they're breathable, water resistant and designed to withstand tough rides... yet style has not been sacrificed in the design. Vulpine's Cotton Rain Trousers include subtle cycling specific features (such as the reflective inner leg seams) meaning that teaming them up with your everyday wardrobe isn't an issue.

2) Chrome SPD Truk Pro Shoe - Always Riding: If you've seen on my Facebook page and on Twitter, you'll know that I am now the proud owner of an Aprire Celeste road bike! A new world of clipped-in riding awaits and as a city cyclist, this style of these SPD's are calling out to me. I love the idea of having a clipped-in shoe that I can comfortably wear all day, so these could well be the ones.

3) Anna Cat Print Sweatshirt - Markus Lupfer: Sequins and embellishments teamed up with cute kittens? This sweatshirt was bound to get my attention! I've a long standing love for Markus' designs with a couple of his pieces in my wardrobe. With a chill still in the air in London, this Sweatshirt would keep you warm on a brisk ride.

4) Alcaria Bicycle Pannier - Ideal & Co : Available exclusively through Saddle and Spoke in the UK, this stunning pannier is made from laminated cotton canvas fabric, with a tan leather trim. Doubling up as a backpack with its extra shoulder straps, this is another cycling accessory which gets the VCG thumbs up for use on and off the bike with an urban and classic twist.

5) Ray-Ban Pink Wayfarer Sunglasses - ASOS: A little bit of pink goes a long way, and these are a great little injection of colour into Spring on your bike! 

6) Olivia Burton Big Dial Watch: Yes, big watches are in at the moment, but if like me you like them simple and not overdone with bling, stones or big gold straps, these watches by Olivia Burton will be right up your street. A classic design with a simple leather strap makes this just wonderful, and a beautiful finishing touch to your CycleStyle wardrobe whatever the season.

5 January 2014

Book Review: 'The Girl's Guide to Life on Two Wheels' by Cathy Bussey...

The new year is upon us and if you're thinking about getting on a bike in 2014 or looking for advice on cycling, 'The Girls Guide to Life on Two Wheels' by Cathy Bussey is a great place to start. I set aside time between work and the Christmas rush to settle down and read 'The Girl's Guide…' and wasn't disappointed. Cathy's "handbook for the chic cyclist", is bursting with information for ladies who like to ride… or would like to start.
Cathy (who is also on twitter - certainly one to follow) is a keen cyclist herself, which clearly comes across when she talks about her own her own personal cycling journey in the introduction. This for me is a really nice touch: she comes from the heart, and even mentions those little excuses not to cycle, which I admit crossed my mind before I started riding again!

There is a great range of bike-topics covered in the book; split into seven chapters, it addresses questions and concerns for both the novice cyclist to the more experienced rider. Starting off with the common question most of us have pondered before getting on a bike, chapter one asks "Why Cycle?" There is no one right answer to that, but with quotes from everyday women who explain why they cycle and the joy it brings them, to great interviews with competitive Olympic cyclists like Dani King, it certainly gives encouragement to women to get on two wheels.
Choosing the right bike for the kind of cycling you want to get into (with a handy guide to the different types of bike out there) and making it work with your budget are covered by the book too. Cycling can sometimes be an expensive business which may put some women off riding, but chapter two of the book aims to show that biking can be done without having to spend a small fortune.
True to the tag line, 'The Girl's Guide…' is a handbook for the chic cyclist, and of course has a dedicated chapter on looking good while cycling. Featuring a round-up of some cool brands (and a few VCG favourites) to check out, you'll find links for cycle clothing, lights, panniers and accessories so that your bike can look the part too.

Even after four years of being back on a bike, I took away practical and helpful tips from the book. I really liked the section on "Keeping Your Bike Healthy", with its maintenance and repairs guide and illustrations on looking after your bicycle.
'The Girl's Guide…' is a lovely introduction to cycling, with a friendly, straightforward and down to earth approach. It's layout with beautiful photography and styling makes it a book you'll want to refer back to. Cathy has created a great and encouraging guide to getting on a bike, which VCG certainly recommends.

The Girl's Guide to Life on Two Wheels by Cathy Bussey is £14.99 ($21.95 US) and is published by Cico Books. It's available to buy from rylandpeters.com

18 December 2013

Product Review: Tracey Neuls Bike Fern Boot...

I had lots of fun playing dress-up in her Redchurch Street shop, and fell for her bike shoe collection in a big way, so I couldn't wait to put Tracey Neuls' Bike Fern Boot to the VCG test in the city...
I was given* them back in September to test out, and box fresh this is how they looked: buttery smooth leather from the tan inner to the grey outer, and that distinctive reflective ribbon on the back. They were stunning... almost to the point of being worried about wearing them on the bike for fear of scuffing them up! BUT that is the beauty of this ankle boot - they are designed to be worn on the bike, and sculpted to take what cycle life has to give it.

The Bike Fern's reflective ribbon on the back of the boot certainly has the cyclist in mind. This visibility feature is subtle and doesn't distract from the aesthetic of the boot. I really like how it's integrated into the Fern, working as a visibility feature and a nice detail of the design as a whole. The positioning of it is brilliant for capturing the lights of motorists, and along with your bike lights / any other visibility garments you have on, is effective. 
After three months wear, the aesthetic of the Bike Fern started to change, with the leather developing a different feel and colour. This is no bad thing. Neuls' choice of using vegetable dyed leather is brilliant, as it highlights the natural beauty of the material: as it gets more worn/used, it becomes better with age. 
When it comes of the comfort of the Bike Fern, there are two things to look at: the feel of your feet in the boots and the feel of the boots on your pedals. The already well cushioned innersole of the boot eventually moulds to the shape of your foot, making it even more comfortable to cycle in. There has been no painful rubbing of the boot against my feet or issues with breaking it in, and the height of the boot against my ankle was just right. 
The Bike Fern is designed to be a heel to cycle in... yes, cycling in heels. Designed to sit right into the pedal and not slip, the Bike Fern achieves this with its integrated sole with 1.5 cm of rubber at the base. This hard and sturdy sole does sit nicely on your standard pedals - with no signs of your feet flying off them when your riding. Also worth a special note to the top piece of the heel... no chance of losing that or it wearing down on these.

Retailing at £250, Bike Fern Boot is at the higher-price end of the market, but when you consider the quality, craftsmanship and design process behind Tracey Neuls footwear, they really are an investment pair of boots that will serve you well, both on and off the bike.

*These boots were kindly gifted to VCG by Tracey Neuls for a review. 

16 November 2013

Where'd You Go, Vélo?

You could call this blog post rather out of character for VCG, but it's been rather out of character that I've not posted for a couple of months… and I feel I owe an explanation as to why. Things have been a little hectic on the other side of this screen, in a mixture of both good and bad. 

The good stuff includes all things work related at Vulpine going incredibly well. A few months ago I became Operations Manager of the company, after first joining the team as Sales and Marketing Manager (gosh, that's coming up for a year now!) I'm really getting my teeth stuck into the role, and loving it: constantly on the go, something new is learnt everyday and above all else it's ALL about working in the cycling/fashion industry with a brilliant team… it's crazy-busy and it's making me crazy-happy.

The bad stuff? My wonderful and gorgeous Mamma Vélo was taken seriously ill at the end of September. 

Her health has been an issue for sometime, but she took a particularly crappy turn for the worse a couple of months ago, which involved the Police and an Ambulance team having to bash our front door down to get to her. The news of an unconscious Mamma being found at home totally f**ked me up. What followed was a spell in hospital, and me pretty much living there everyday and keeping lots of shit together for her while trying not to do my nut with worry. There was no time for anything else at at point.  All my thoughts were with her, and what was going on. Even after the hospital stay, that wasn't the end of the bad stuff happening with her health… hence me being on a blog hiatus for so long. 

Thankfully things are improving now - it's not perfect, but then again what is? (well, a long blissful ride on my bike somewhere beautiful without a care in the world is, and that'll be happening soon enough). I've missed doing VCG and REALLY getting out there on a bicycle and finally I'm getting back on both the blogging and bike saddle after being off it for what feels like an age! I've still been dipping my toe into Twitter and Instagram, and those of you who know me on there & knew about what was going on with me have been absolute lifesavers. You've kept me going with your kind words and support and believe me when I say it means a lot…. so thank you.

I've a sackful of CycleStyle reviews I'm desperate to get up on here and share with you, along with a tonne of emails to answer AND an exciting new chapter in cycling that I'm in the process of embarking on… there will certainly be more on that later.

I'm just so sorry that I ended up vanishing from here for a while, but I needed to deal with a lot of "stuff' that required all of my attention. I wasn't in a very good place at all, but as things are getting somewhere close to normal, VCG will be too… the last thing I want is for something I love doing so much to fade away.

So, that's my explanation for being a bit rubbish of late… hopefully if you're still reading this bit, you'll stick around for normal service, which resumes on VCG once again.

Lady V x

15 September 2013

Tracey Neuls for Tokyobike - Cycling Shoe...

This week I visited Tracey Neuls in Shoreditch. As an East London girl, I cycle around Brick Lane a lot & often stop to window shop at the hanging display in her Redchurch Street store... so it was a pleasure to be invited to spend an afternoon trying on her stunning shoes, and have a preview of her exclusive shoe collaboration with Tokyobike for the London Design Festival 2013.
Tracey's footwear has a loyal following amongst women in both the UK and Japan, and has also struck a chord with female cyclists who love the comfort and style of her shoes with their rubber sole to cycle around the city in. With both Neuls and Tokyobike sharing an appreciation for simplicity and a contemporary approach to design (and Neuls being a fan of their bikes after seeing them at Clerkenwell Design Week) their collaboration to celebrate the London Design Festival and London Fashion Week makes perfect sense.

The limited edition cycle-friendly shoe has been created with everyday wear and comfort in mind. In the collection is the "Geek", a TN shoe which originally found popularity amongst female cyclists and has been redesigned with cycling specific features. These include the signature half-moon stitching becoming a reflective 'cat eye' detail on the back for visibility.
The other style is "Fern", an ankle boot with a heel-shape designed to sit right into the pedal and not slip. The reflective detailing on the back of this boot is a ribbon strip.
Both designs have a new integrated rubber sole created especially for cycling. Geek's sole curves over the front of the shoe, protecting the leather from scuffing. With 1.5 cm of sturdy and very hard rubber at the base, Tracey and Tokyobike also aim to banish the annoyance of losing the top piece of your heel that usually wears down.

I really love the fluid shapes of both bike shoes and their organic and sculptural style - something typical of Tracey's designs, which hasn't been compromised for the bicycle. But the one that really caught my attention was Fern which I couldn't resist trying on...
Slipping into the Fern, the feel of the soft grey leather along with with the thick insole instantly screams "comfort", which is of course great both on and off the bike. It's like a glove for your foot, which over time will mould to your shape... bonus. The distinctive pointed toe shape (a huge plus for me with my love of Winklepickers) was originally sculptured in clay by Tracey and made into a mould on which the boot is created. No one else owns this shape in the shoe industry, making it that touch more special.
It's fair to say I was more than taken with Fern... and can't wait to start cycling around London in this rather stylish boot with a heel perfect for cycling. A full review will follow on VCG...

The Geek retails for £165 & Fern for £250. Both shoes are available to buy from Tracey Neuls online and her East and West stores and from Tokyobike on Tabernacle StreetShoreditch.

More photography from my visit can be viewed here