Beard care products

When I first started to grow my beard a bit longer I never used to use any beard products, although there weren’t too many on the market at the time. I used to shampoo my beard after swimming, but that was about it. When I went to my first beard competition I was given a goody bag containing a couple of beard oils and balms. As my beard became more of a statement relations would give me beard care products for Christmas or Birthday, and then I received yet more goodies at the British Beard and Mustache Championships (BBMC) (read about it here). What I’m trying to say in a round-a-bout way is that I have very rarely bought stuff for my beard. The one exception was buying a taster pack of beard balm from Fine Fettle, which is great stuff.

Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to look after my beard a little better, and because I didn’t go to the 2018 BBMC I’ve run out. I therefore have had to buy some care products for my beard. So, what do I use?

Firstly, the bad stuff. You can buy some cheap stuff at Boots. Don’t, it’s not very good. I’ve also found the stuff from Lush not to my liking either.

The good stuff! One of the free samples I had was from the Bedfordshire Beard Co. My wife really likes the smell, which is reminiscent of liquorice torpedoes.


It’s quite firm so I only use it when my beard is wet, and I have to rub it between my palms for a while to get it soft enough to apply, but as I said earlier, my wife really likes the smell.

The name of my blog might suggest that I do triathlons, and swimming does make a mess of my beard. After a swim I have taken to using Braw Beard wash and oil.


This stuff is good, especially the beard wash. After using it my beard is soft, manageable and feels great, and the oil keeps it soft all day. The oil has a delicate smell and isn’t overpowering, and the beard wash is so good that I only use it every couple of days. I always used to only use beard oil if my beard was dry and balm if it was wet, but Braw Beards suggest using their oil when the beard is wet. Conversely, Fine Fettle suggest using their balm when your beard is dry.


This is a new flavour, but I really like it. Fine Fettle is very soft and a little bit sticky, very different from most balms, and it acts almost like a gel, holding the shape of your beard. I’ve tried using this when my beard is both wet and dry, and it works great either way.

These are the three brands that I currently use. They all help me to look after my beard and are of exceptional quality, although I’m always happy to try out free samples, hint, hint.

Garmin 800

It’s not really a product review, but I’ve just got myself a Garmin 800. I bought it off a friend from the City of Lancaster Tri Club, as he is upgrading. I’ve had a Garmin 500 for almost six years, and I’m very happy with it, and apart from the odd times when the screen freezes, I’ve not had any problems with it. So why did I buy an 800? Maps, that’s why. The 800 that I’ve bought comes pre-loaded with maps for the whole of Europe, perfect for touring or for when you’ve entered Skelmersdale and can’t find your way out.

This morning was my first ride with my new toy, a regular 12 mile loop up and over Littledale. First problem I encountered was the main screen didn’t have my preferred data displayed. I like distance, total ascent, speed, time and time of ride. A quick Google search and I was all set, after a brief moment getting confused with the instructions for the 810 and 820.

Next issue was that it wouldn’t fit where my 500 fits, as I have 15mm of fork steerer above the stem (I like the bars a bit higher for longer touring). Fortunately my new Garmin came with three mounts for in front of the bars, and once I’d found the 3mm allen key I was set. For a laugh I decided to use both Garmins and compare the results, although I did look a bit like DC Rainmaker when he’s doing multiple reviews.


The ride was a bit wet and windy, and I had to adjust the 800 as I had lap distance instead of total distance on the front screen.

How did the two compare?

Distance and time were identical, as expected, but elevation was about 7.5% higher with the 800. The map screen worked fine as well. When I returned home I uploaded the 800 to Strava (here) – no double counting for me. Battery life, the 500 was at 95% and the 800 was at 86%, although I had messed around with the screens when I was out. Even so, the 800 will have a significantly shorter battery life, something that I will have to keep an eye on.

Overall I’m very happy with my new purchase and I’m looking forward to plotting some new routes in the future.

Product Review

In my first product review here I looked at Gloves, Overshoes and Tyres. In this review I will be looking at Wiggle nutrition.

Last year I was mostly using Etixx nutrition. COLT had managed to obtain a years supply for free, and I like free. All good things come to an end, so I’m back on the cheap stuff.

Hydro tabs (1)

First off, the hydro tabs. At £3 for a tube of 20, you can’t go wrong. I’m sure a qualified nutritionist could tell you the difference between these and other brands, although the ingredients on the back appears similar for all makes. They taste OK and provide the salts that I need when I sweat, which I do, copiously. I prefer the blackcurrant, although they are available in a variety of flavours. My only gripe, why is the top one always broken, and sometimes the second and third ones as well.

Hydro tabs (2)

The gels, once again are very reasonably priced from £7 for a box of 20. As with the hydro tabs they are available in a multitude of flavours. My favourites are lemon meringue or blackcurrant.


If you’ve ever read an article covering nutrition products, it will mainly focus on how they taste. It is very difficult to quantify how well they actually work, especially as this varies from person to person.

I once had a Powergel during a race and suffered really bad stomach cramps. Clif gels are too solid for me to use when running, although they are the best tasting gels I’ve ever tried. Etixx, OTE and Wiggle gels are all liquid enough that I can use them when out for a long run.

Again I could do with a nutritionist to explain the difference between gels; chemicals or the wrong type of sugar. I’m guessing that the cheaper gels contain more sugar, hence why when I gave one to my wife towards the end of a long ride, a few minutes later she shot off leaving me in her dust.

I’m not doing IMUK this year (read why here) or any long races, so nutrition isn’t a top priority at the moment. I can get by on cafe stops, cake and sausage butties. If I was doing a long distance race I would try out a few different brands, at a fast pace, to see what works best for me.

Finally, don’t try out new stuff during a race.

Product Review

My first product review, which I’m sure will be well received. Three products to look at;

Bontrager RXL Thermal Gloves, Endura Zipless Overshores, and Specialized Armadillo Tires.

First up, the gloves, and what a pair of gloves they are. Absolutely brilliant. Perfect for when the weather is cold, but not freezing, probably good down to 4 or 5 degrees. Incredibly comfortable, grippy and very bright, although they are available in black as well.20161218_154535

I’ve had mine for a few months and have used them almost every day, hence why they are a little mucky. They were also not expensive at only £15. Without doubt the best pair of – cold/but not freezing – pair of gloves that I own.

Overshoes are unfortunately a necessary evil in the winter. The zips had broken on my last pair, which had done me two winters, so it was time for some new ones. At The Edge Cycleworks in Lancaster they had the winter’s selection in, and the zipless pair caught my eye. The idea being that most returns that Endura get for overshoes are from broken zips.


I wasn’t sure how easy they would be to get on and off, so one of the guys in the shop tried them on, and they seemed to be OK. When I went out for my first ride with them, this didn’t prove to be the case, especially with Shimano road cleats. There appears to be a knack to getting them on where you roll them half way inside out, although I have found it to still be a struggle. Once on, they perform as to be expected, keeping the worst of the cold and rain at bay, but after only a few rides I do have a small hole in one of them, so I’m not sure how long they will last.

Finally, some tires from Specialized. For many years now I have used Continetal GP 4000’s on my road bikes, but back in May I cycled over a bottle, and put a huge gash in my front tire. I had a big race coming up and my usual bike shop was closed due to flooding, so I went to ‘the other’ bike shop in Lancaster, as I didn’t want to wait a few days from buying online. They don’t sell Conti’s, so I bought a Specialized Armadillo. When I was checking my rear tire I noticed that there were loads of small cuts, so I decided to replace it, also with an Armadillo, that way the bike would be in symmetry. I wasn’t expecting much from them, but I was told that they would be good against punctures, and with a 300+ mile ride coming up I thought they might do alright. I’m not a speed merchant, so for me a tire that is grippy in the wet and puncture proof is exactly what I’m looking for. It also helps if the tire isn’t impossible to get on with cold hands.

It is now 6 months later, and the tires have done over 3,000 miles, and I haven’t had a single puncture, front or rear. Not only that, but they really do grip in the wet. A good test for a tire is a steep climb, on a smooth road surface, in the wet. I used to find that Conti Gatorskins would slip under those conditions, although they were seemingly bomb proof. Yesterday I was climbing up the steep side of the Trough of Bowland, in the wet, and not even the slightest slippage. I am genuinely sold on these tires.

But, I have got hold of a Bontrager AW3 Hard-case road tire.


The AW3 is an all weather, low rolling resistant, puncture proof tire. I will be replacing the rear Armadillo soon, and this will go on, and it will be interesting to see how they compare, especially as it has received mixed reviews.

That is the end of my first product review, and if Colnago want to send me a C60 to review I will be more than happy, as well as being not in the slightest bit impartial.

More nonsense soon.