The more adventurous side of road cycling continues to inspire me. One of my cycling highlights this year was a back-to-back 100-mile ride with my friend and colleague, Jack Luke.
We stayed in a classic backpacker hostel in Swanage on the stunning south coast of England, before heading back home to Bristol.
It’s safe to say I was struggling halfway through the return leg, and I had to dig especially deep up the final climb over the Mendip hills.
The gear I used this year on many of my longer rides helped me to get through the tougher moments, while old favourites continue to give me perfect service.
Alé Kenya jersey
The design of the Kenya jersey from Alé is reason enough to include it in my list.
I can’t deny I have enjoyed the ego boost of receiving compliments from other riders while wearing the jersey.
But the jersey’s inclusion isn’t for looks alone – its performance also wins it a place.
It’s made using two different fabrics. A micro aero material on the front and sides is super-light and comfortable – if you look closely, you can see small perforations.
The back of the jersey has carbon woven into the fabric, chosen for its antibacterial properties. This is perfect for my longer rides, which sometimes involve wearing the same jersey for multiple days.
The combination provides a decent aero fit with plenty of breathability for when things get hot.
The cut combines a tight, racey fit with comfort and flexibility.
Eating bigger meals during a longer ride inevitably means a bigger stomach and I’ve ridden in some jerseys that don’t allow for that extra stretch, which makes for uncomfortable miles.
Plus, if I can save a few watts without riding in a more aggressive riding position, I’ll take that.
A final shout-out goes to the pockets at the back. They’re stretchy enough to really stuff in extra layers, but with enough stability so you don’t feel as though the contents are swinging left and right.
Wahoo Elemnt Roam V2
Wahoo’s Elemnt Roam V2 GPS computer was an easy choice for me this year.
It’s built on the already excellent performance of the popular first-generation device, which makes it one of the best bike computers out there.
Almost anyone who’s been out for a ride with me will realise how poor my natural sense of direction is, so the Roam V2 has become a bit of a saviour for me this year.
The Roam is also a very powerful training tool, but its navigational features and the 2.7in colour screen are why it makes my list.
The display now uses eight colours. While this is useful for displaying training metrics, the additional colours help me to navigate.
If I’m tired on longer rides, it’s easy for me to lose concentration and miss a turn in the road.
However, the Roam shows on-screen directions in a distinctive green box. This and the bold mapping help me stay on the path towards adventure.
You might disagree with me here, but I love the fact that, like all Wahoo GPS computers, the Elemnt Roam V2 doesn’t have a touchscreen.
On other computers, I’ve been out in the rain trying to move data screens or make navigational decisions, and had a poor experience because the water can affect the touchscreen performance.
The Roam uses buttons only. This might limit functionality, but keeping things simple and doing them well is an often underrated design philosophy.
Pro Discover Team Handlebar bag
Compact handlebar bags have quickly become one of the more popular and practical ways to carry trail and road-side gear.
All share the same canister-like shape but, having used a few over the years, I can say they vary a great deal. There really are some duffers out there.
The Pro Discover Team Handlebar bag might not be the most striking on the market, but it’s got a number of practical features that I love – so much so that I rarely take it off my bike.
It has a large mesh pocket on the inside of the main compartment. This is useful for separating things, but also helps to protect lightweight outer layers from rubbing against things such as multi-tools.
It’s got a tiny zipped compartment stashed away in there too. I’ve kept emergency ice-cream money in mine. Often, shops in more remote villages will accept cash-only, so I hopefully have enough money to prevent the dreaded mid-ride bonk.
The outside construction is sturdy enough to keep its shape, while feeling robust enough for winter gravel riding.
And finally, a nice little touch is the small elasticated pocket on one end. This is perfect for stuffing wrappers in if you don’t want to disturb your jersey pockets.