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      STORIES

      Low on motivation to cycle to work? Here is how to convince you to get on the saddle

      Low on motivation to cycle to work? Here is how to convince you to get on the saddle

      The weather is bad, it is still dark, staying under the blankets sounds like Heaven. We know the feeling. But you need to get to work and here are 9 reasons why cycling is the best way to go. 

      1. Cheap

      No matter how good the petrol prices are, they have nothing on the price of fueling a bike, which is, quite literally, nothing. Even if you still use your car for things like grocery trips, you can reduce your expenses considerably by riding a bike. You may marvel at how much you end up saving.

      2. Traffic reduction

      If your commute is within the canals, driving a car is crazy talk. It will take you forever and you will add to the congestion (remember, you ARE traffic). It will also be much quicker by bike - the average travel speed in Dublin is 14k/h, 13k/h on a bike. Yes, the infrastructure is still to say the least, hesitant, but don't hesitate to sign up for classes if you are nervous and we promise you won't regret it. If you commute is a bit longer, you can get a folding bike and travel on the train or put it in your car. Do the rest of the trip on the bike, it will save you time and you will arrive fresh and lively (as opposed to sluggish and grumpy)

       

      3. Better mood

      On that note, cycling to work will make you happier. Exercise brings us increased endorphins and this is a great starting point. 

      4. Get in shape

      It is really difficult for most people to keep exercising while having long commutes, picking up the kids, and somewhat trying to have a social life. The good news is that you can integrate exercise in your daily life. Commute to work by bike, and if you reach 30 mn of cycling per day, you reach the recommended amount of exercise. That's 15mn. That's within reach.  

      5. Safer for your lungs

      Sitting in a car can expose you to all kinds of exhaust. Sitting at the rear of the car is very harmful to your kids. Yes, it does sound counter-intuitive, but cars are the most polluted environment. Fresh air should not be a luxury, but cycling is a much healthier choice even in our congested city.

       

      6. Help the environment

      We are in a middle of a climate emergency. If you don't absolutely need it (professional driver / disability / very long commute), your car should stay at home and you should choose a less harmful way to travel. 

      7. Unwind

      Even if you commute for a short distance, that me time between work and home can be very precious. If you have regular stressful days, by riding a bike, you can let go of this tension. 

      8. Improved immune system

      Cycling makes you healthier, which means that you’ll have fewer sick days. Your employer will appreciate this (more importantly, you will appreciate it). They’ll also appreciate your added energy and brainpower from biking to work.

      How to encourage your children to cycle to school

      How to encourage your children to cycle to school

      According to the Department of Transport, over half of primary school children in Ireland live within 1km of school, with two out of three living within 2km. Despite this, the 2016 Census showed that fewer than 2% pupils cycled to school in Ireland.

      The number of children cycling to school alone has rapidly decreased over the past few decades, largely because parents worry about traffic danger. But teach them about road safety, and there’s no reason why children can’t enjoy the freedom of cycling. They will develop good habits, and exercise will be part of their daily routine, encouraging them to become healthy adults. Here is a bit of a guidance on how to start your children cycling to school and keeping the habit up.

       

       

      Cycling to school is great for a child’s freedom, embrace it and help them do so safely

      If you cycle yourself, you’ll know the feeling of arriving at work having had a dose of fresh air, time to think, to make that transition between home and work, from sleep to wakefulness, from domestic to the outside world. Even in the rain, it’s never as bad as it seemed once you’re wrapped up in waterproofs.

      If you’ve already been riding to school using a child seat or tagalong bike, the kids grow up assuming that’s the normal way to arrive. 

      Just remember:

      • to make sure your child's bike fits and that all your bikes are roadworthy;
      • if you're on the road with children, take up a position behind them. If there are two adults in your group, it's a good idea to have one at the back and one in front of the children;
      • helmets are particularly recommended for young children. Ultimately, wearing a helmet is a question of individual choice and parents need to make that choice for their children;
      • set a good example and teach children road safety and awareness and teach them the rules of the road

       

      Ask the school for bicycle parking

      It can be very helpful if the school has a positive attitude towards cycling. Asking the school for a safe place to park the bikes (Sheffield stands are best) and get an instructor in to get the basics covered (check out the CycleRight website).

      Things move seamlessly if a parent can commute with their child, drop them off at the school cycle parking and make sure their child’s bike is locked then continue their own journey to work.  If it’s not possible to do this every day, once or twice a week is better than nothing.

      If there are other children in the family, or the journey to work is unsuitable for cycling, you may have to wait until the last year of primary school. Plan the route with them and practice the ride with them until you’re satisfied that they can cope with morning traffic, arrive safely and lock the bike up securely.   A combination lock avoids the problem of lost keys.

      Secondary school

      Children should be able to ride independently to secondary school, as most schools are less than 5 km from home. 

      Again, plan and ride the route with your kid.  Many people are only familiar with main roads and bus routes, so make sure you find cycle-friendly back roads where possible. There may be a cycle path or cut-through that makes the journey more enjoyable.  Is there anyone else they can ride with? You need to be confident that your child can ride confidently and competently – and that they will do so conscientiously, taking into account the needs of other road users. They’re old enough now to have a U-lock with a key so make sure they have it as they leave each morning.  It’s handy to keep a spare key in a safe place.

      Then you need to let them do it.

      Without knowing it, your emerging teenager will be doing something that is good for them and good for the planet. 

      Remember, this is a good habit they can develop and make them aware of environmental issues as well as becoming active citizens. If you need any pointers, contact CycleRight or the Irish Centre for Cycling in Malahide.

       

      What you should know before hitting the mountain bike trails

      What you should know before hitting the mountain bike trails

      Like adrenaline? Enjoy the mud? Love the outdoors and cycling? Then mountain biking is for you. We are lucky in Ireland to have great trails, especially on the East Coast, so if you are tempted, just get out and give it a go. 

      Before you get started though, here are a few handy tips to get you on your merry way.

      Gear

      A bike is a good idea to begin with. Depending on the type of trails you want to do, there are a good few choices to make. The good news is though, you can test the waters and see if you like the sport with very little financial commitment. We at Rothar have demo day with hardtails and full suspension bikes alike, or if we don't have what you want, all of the major trail centres will offer bike rental.

      Secondly, you need a bit of gear so that you don't find yourself stranded in some obscure corner of the mountain (think that darkness sets pretty early during the low season, and especially in the woods!) so don't get caught and bring a puncture repair kit + spare tubes and a pump with you. 

      Thirdly, you need a helmet. Again, most centres (and us at Rothar) would rent it together with the bike. 

      Clothing wise, you cannot do without gloves. They protect your hands in case of  fall, they provide you with better grip and therefore control of the bike, act as a shock absorber taking some pressure off your hands and will absorb some of that sweat, preventing your hands from slipping off the bars. We would also recommend a waterproof shell (a light one you can keep in your bag), because, well, Ireland, and some snacks and a bottle of water (reusable is best - or if you are that way inclined, fill in the bladder in your backpack). 

      You will also need a puncture repair, spare tubes and a pump - the days are short in the low season, especially in the woods, and you don't want to get stranded in some remote part of the forest. 

      Choosing your route

      Choose your route carefully. Being bold is good, being overly confident is not. Start with the gentle trails. Most centres would have a map of the different trails, sorted by difficulty (beginner's to expert's -  stick to the sanctioned trails). The last thing you want to do on your first ride is scare yourself and ruin your day.  Start out with nice gentle trails to give yourself a chance to get acquainted with the bike and the feeling of riding off road. There’s plenty of time for the gnarly trails once you improve a little bit.

      The bike

      Get used to the bike before you hit the trails. Set the saddle at a comfortable height, get used to the gears and to the riding position. The brakes will be your biggest challenge. Brakes on mountain bikes are really powerful (for obvious reasons), and also very sensitive. The last thing you want to do is pulling the levers too hard and find yourself face in the mud, or your chin hitting a rock. You should always endeavour to pull the brakes lightly - we recommend you keep one finger on the levers at all times. That will allow for emergency braking, but also encourage you not to put too much force on the levers. 

      Trust your equipment

      The mountain bike is designed to roll over tree roots and rocks and bounce down step sections. So trust the equipment and instead of attempting to swerve every obstacle (which is impossible on technical sections) trust that your bike will be able to deal with it.

      Riding your bike

      Your riding position is crucial on a mountain bike.

        1. Drop your heels. Bracing your feet against the pedals helps your body maintain stability and resist the forces that downhill braking puts on your body.
        2. Keep your arms and legs bent. When your arms or legs are locked out, you aren’t able to react to the terrain. Maintaining a bend in your elbows and knees will allow your joints to act like extra suspension on rough descents.
        3. Shift your hips back slightly. Your range of motion will depend on the steepness of the descent. Small body position adjustments go a long way!
        4. Look ahead. It will give you the opportunity to ensure you are in the right gear. It is important to try to do your gear changes in advance of a climb or technical descent as changes mid-section can prove tricky

       

      Go with better riders

      Learning from experts or from someone who knows what they are doing will make you progress faster. If you have nice friends who don't mind showing their expertise to a rookie, go for it.  Or try to find a group ride. 

      Riding behind people who are better than you will also give you the opportunity to improve. Watch how they position their bodies when going up or downhill. You can also witness first-hand how they handle rough, rocky sections.

      Riding etiquette

      Mountain bikers are friendly people. The main thing you do need to know is that you must yield to faster riders coming up behind you.

      You will often hear the expression “Rider Up” being used, this simply means that somebody is coming down the trail behind you. All you need to do is find a safe spot to pull in and let them pass.

       

      Prepare for a fall

      You will fall off your mountain bike at some stage. But do let this put you off. You will not be speeding down the trails on your first couple of rides so your falls will tend to be of the comic variety and will be far less painful than you expect. Kneepads, elbow pads and back protector are available, think about using them.

      If you do take a fall try not to get nervous when you get back on the bike. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to take a spill. A rigid body will result in jerky movements on the bike which never end well. So think happy thoughts and off you go!

      The ultimate Dutch bike. The Achielle.

      dutch bike

      Well, they are Belgian. But they would have the same design as your traditional Dutch bike. Upright riding position, comfortable, a few gears and generally very, very pretty. Judge for yourself.

       

       

      What is so special with Achielle?

       

      Achielle make their bikes completely by hand in Pittem, Belgium (near Brugge and Antwerp). They've been doing this since 1946 in the shadow of the Dutch, and they used to make over 10,000 frames a year for large Dutch companies before these companies decamped to China.  

       

       

      Achielle make their own tubing, weld the bikes themselves, and coat their bikes with far more chip and rust resistant finishes than other brands. They also use parts that have been very carefully chosen.

      Achielle have achieved a scalability without surrending to mass production. This means they can produce a perfectly built bike for under €2,000 and do so with multiple colour and spec options. And, because their shop floor lies right outside their office, an AutoCAD drawing can turn into a new product very quickly. And, the excitement to create is tangible. The original owner, Achiel has passed the business onto his grandsons who carry the tradition with a notable hipster flair (bikes like the Sam feature road bike geometry with low maintenance internally geared parts, such as the model below). But the tradition continues. They still draw their own steel tubing, braze it by hand, and use the highest quality finishes. Built to last a lifetime. Or two. 

      So, why Achielle? Because you want a beautiful bike - made right - that lasts a long time through proper frame finishes and parts selection, a bike that is perfect for the short-burst errands that make up 90% of most city trips. A bike that takes clothing protection and low maintenance seriously, a bike that is gloriously comfortable and despite its democratic origins, almost aristocratic in feel. 

       And because they would talk about all that better than we do, here is a little video explaining the whole process

       

      Gravel bikes: what are they, should you get one and why are they so popular?

      Gravel bikes: what are they, should you get one and why are they so popular?

      WHAT ARE THEY?

      Simply said, a gravel bike is a combination of a road bike (happy on tarmac) and a cyclo-cross bike (happy on mud). ... Mellow single tracks, farm roads, gravel, crushed cobblestones, tarmac — whatever. It's a machine that's capable of performing on various surfaces while sustaining comfort.


      More durable than a road bike and much faster than a mountain bike. Gravel bicycles present an interesting option for the riders who want to travel on and off road. 

      Geometry

      The geometry is more relaxed than that of a race bike. The head tube is often taller and the head angle is slicker for more relaxed steering (less twitchy than a racing bike, less responsive on technical off-road sections than a ‘crosser’). Gravel bikes are also designed with longer wheelbases, so they’re stable on the road and when riding over an unpredictable surface like gravel, and provide extra stability and comfort over long distances.

       

      Disc brakes

      All gravel bikes feature disc brakes. Disc brakes, especially hydraulic discs, offer more power, which provides more confidence when riding off-road and are useful in mixed conditions. In the rain or in the mud you’ll appreciate the perfect efficiency.

      Bigger tyres

      Bigger tyres will give you not only extra comfort on the rough and bumpy roads, but due to their design they also raise the grip on the ground.

       

      WHAT ARE THEY USEFUL FOR?

      Gravel bikes are called the Swiss Army knife of bikes, i.e. bikes that are really versatile. Below is a list of the different things you can do with a gravel bike.

      1) Off and on road cycling

      Gravel bike offers next-level freedom, taking dirt roads and cobbles, forest roads, fields and trails in its stride. No need to avoid "cow roads"or fields, your gravel bike will bring you everywhere. Because of their relaxed geometry, you'll be able to ride for longer, and in fiercer conditions thanks to their disc brakes

      2) Cycle touring

      Gravel bikes are very tough, and give you the option of adding racks, mudguards, bigger tyres and transport panniers. Gravel bikes are designed to be able to tackle any sort of terrain you might encounter along the way and the comfortable riding position is definitely a big bonus on those mul

      3) Commuting

       Gravel bikes are perfect for commuting. All gravel bikes use strong wheels, grippy tires, a good range of gears, and powerful disc brakes for sudden stops in rainy weather and heavy traffic conditions. They also have space for mudguards and a carrier, enabling you to carry your gear with you (from a laptop to gym gear).

       

       

       As you can see, gravel bikes are very versatile and you're hesitant, just come into the shop and test ride of of our models.