Shockingly the fashion industry is the second most harmful industry to the environment, moreover it’s continually being linked to harsh and unethical working conditions. With as many as 20.9 million people being directly affected by modern slavery on a daily basis, this is impossible to ignore. As a result, more and more people are starting to make the moral decision to only buy their cycling wear from ethical, sustainable brands. However, it can be difficult to source ethical clothing that is also high-quality. Here are five brands which can tick both boxes:
Based in Wales, this company make their clothing using sustainably sourced Merino wool and organic cotton made from renewable crops. They are proud to be sustainable throughout their entire production process, from design to delivery. Their cooling zip tops are the ideal everyday purchase for cyclists, as they regulate your temperature and their reflective detail will ensure you remain safe when on the road.
This clothing line is made in Britain from a variety of recycled materials, including bamboo and plastic bottles. Despite their unique source, their clothing has the same high-quality and breathable nature that you would expect from any cycling brand. They also guarantee that all their workers are fairly paid and work in a safe environment, a pledge that ought to be instated by all clothing companies. Their bikewear jerseys are particularly popular amongst customers, as the recycled fabric improves wicking in order to keep you dry.
Not shy in their ambitious goal to become “Europe’s most environmentally friendly brand”, VAUDE strives to achieve good working conditions for all. They also upcycle as much as possible in order to reduce the amount of waste they produce. Whether you are going on a cycling tour, mountain or road biking, or cycling on your commute to work, you are bound to find a product that you will love from their collection.
The Adidas Group, including both Adidas and Reebok, strives to use the most sustainable materials for all their products. As well as using recycled materials in production, they also evaluate the environmental impact of their resources, such as water consumption and land use. Adidas does not use any raw materials from endangered species and refuses to use leather from animals that are poorly treated. Look stylish and feel good in their cycling wear, knowing that you are doing your bit to help the planet.
Puma guarantees a safe working environment for its employees and has a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination. Their strong ethical stance can also be observed in their environmental policy, as all workers must consider their impact on the local working environment.
Puma’s breathable cycling wear will help to keep you cool during long journeys and their broad range of designs enables you to find a garment to suit your taste.
This is an exciting account of James McLaren's attempt to beat the world record for the fastest cycle across Europe. The journey begins in Ufa, Russia and proceeds through 9 countries to reach the coast in Portugal. The focus of the book is the incredible human effort required to undertake this feat. It is a race against time so there is little insight into the culture and people of the countries, but you feel like you are right there with James. His fast paced and personable writing style draws you into this world of emotion, physical pain and sheer joy.
The book begins with a great opening that perfectly captures the nerves at the start of such a journey:
"What am I doing? I thought to myself, as I sat in a room on the ninth floor in a nice hotel in Ufa, Russia, staring at my bike all boxed-up in cardboard."
From that moment I was hooked on this book, wanting to find out how this journey will progress, what will happen along the way and if James will beat the record.
Chapter two is where we learn of James' background, his life in Devon, his interest in cycling and why he wanted to attempt the record. There is nothing particularly unusual here and I was desperate to get stuck into the record attempt. Likewise, I was keen to get past chapter three which is about James' training regime, although it does give you a good idea of the amount of effort that is required to embark upon such a project.
What made me really warm to James and to care about his journey was his honesty about the highs and lows. There is no ego here and you just get the impression of a normal guy wanting to do something amazing with his life. He knows that a month long cycle trip is insignificant compared to what many sports people have done, but he choose it as something that he thought was personally achievable. He had read about the previous record and the daily mileage was something that he felt he was capable of exceeding.
The relentless pace of 8 or 9 hours cycling each day, broken only with short rest stops to eat and then sleep at night, made it difficult to put the book down. I found myself routing for James and wanting him to reach his daily target of 120 miles. At the end of each day's cycling the book displays a statistics summary showing the mileage and average speed. I was cheering inside when the daily target was exceeded on particularly challenging days and James has quite a few of these. In particular, his journey across Poland was marred with horrendous knee pain.
I found it fascinating to read about the logistics of a trip like this. For example, although James travels with a tent it is sometimes a dilemma for him to choose the tent or a hotel for a night. The advantage of hotels is that it saves time in the morning as there is no need to pack up the tent and gear and allows an opportunity to dry out soaking wet clothes using a hairdryer. However, the disadvantage is that hotels can restrict the route and mean that James might have to stop short of his mileage target. The record attempt requires meticulous record keeping, such as photos, stats from a cycle computer, a log book and witness signatures. Despite being exhausted in the evening James must spend time on this paperwork. Food is simply fuel on this journey, so you will learn nothing of the wonderful foods of Europe. Fast food, kebabs and whatever can be found in petrol stations end up being a mainstay of James' diet, although he does describe the joy of French patisserie.
I liked the inclusion of James' photographs of the journey, appearing every few pages- camping spots, hotel rooms, the open road. They add to the pace of the book, brief impressions of places, just passing through, life on the road.
With a record attempt it inevitably means that there is simply no time to enjoy the sites of the countries that James powers through. There are very few encounters with local people; this is very much a solo affair. There are some short interactions with other cyclists. There are some descriptions of pretty towns and scenery, but nothing too detailed. If you are looking for more of a cycle travelogue you will not find it here, but that's not what this book is about. If you have ever wondered about taking on a long distance cycling record then this book will give you a very honest account of what it involves and it is no vacation, that's for sure! The final few pages of the book are an amazing adrenaline rush as James reaches the end of the journey, it's great writing.
I really enjoyed this book and if you would like to buy it on Amazon just click on the image below:
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.