We chatted to co-founder of Curbar Cycling, James Clarkson, about winter cycling, why the Peak District is his favourite place to ride and how he’s managed to fuse his love for bikes and art into his job.
Cycling clothing brand, Curbar Cycling, was founded by David McLeavy and James Clarkson in September 2015. Both McLeavy and Clarkson had previously worked for a large UK cycling company and became fed up with their jobs. Wanting a more creative outlook, especially as both had attended art school, they left their jobs and dove straight into creating Curbar Cycling.
While McLeavy deals with spreadsheets and planning, Clarkson carries out most of the design work. Both come together for product testing and marketing because, as Clarkson says, “that is one of the most fun parts of running the business.”
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What I personally like about being part of Curbar Cycling, is that I can be as creative as I am when I make an artwork, but in some respects touch more people with that creativity. We both hope that our designs, and the imagery we produce for social media, inspire people to challenge themselves, to explore the area they live in and, most importantly, ride their bikes more. For us, cycling is less about racing or being the fastest; it’s about the experience. Finishing a brutal climb or taking on a 100-mile ride and finishing it, that’s what it’s all about! I love it when we hear back from people who have done just that, and they’ve been wearing our clothing or ridden a road that we have written about in our journal.
Where is your favourite place to cycle?
Our office in Sheffield is less than 10 miles from the heart of the Peak District, so for us the Peak District is our favourite place to cycle. There are some incredibly challenging roads and lots of rewarding views. Each year we also take a trip to Mallorca and the climb from Selva to Lluc is always a really special ride for us.
What do you like most about winter cycling?
In winter, David and I often choose a load of roads we have never ridden before, piece them together into a route and then spend all day out on our bikes. We aren’t focused on going fast; we are just focused on completing the ride; it gives us loads of time to talk and see some pretty spectacular things. I always like this time of year for that reason. A mid-ride coffee and cake at a nice cafe always taste a lot nicer in the winter too!
What should cyclists be wearing in winter?
I think when you are heading out in winter, it’s important to remember that your head, feet and hands are going to be losing the most heat. So having the appropriate clothing is super important. After that, layering is another good option. Start with a good base layer that’s going to wick sweat. Then I would say look for a good quality Roubaix jersey for the outer layer. Also, make sure you have something like a windproof gilet packed in your pocket, in case the temperature drops whilst you are out or you take on a long descent.
If the temperature is very cold, then make sure you have a high-quality, deep winter jacket; it’s going to let you ride longer and happier. I also recommend trying to avoid cut-priced waterproof clothing as it doesn’t tend to be that breathable and it makes you sweat a lot during hard efforts; you’ll quickly get cold if that sweat has nowhere to escape to.
What are your top three cycling winter clothing tips?
- Keep your hands and feet warm as a priority.
- Make sure you have removable layers in case of temperature changes.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave the house and make sure you wear the correct type of technical garments for the day ahead.
What is your overall top tip for cycling in the winter months?
Enjoy exploring new roads; it keeps cycling interesting when the weather is not so nice. Also, remember to eat more when it’s colder as you use more energy to stay warm!
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