It’s been a crazy few weeks; mountain biking in Snowdonia, road cycling in the Pyrenees and taking part in a 24 hour relay around Brands Hatch… I’m knackered, but absolutely buzzing and feeling more energetic than ever, even if my body isn’t too convinced just yet!
It’s funny, because only a week before all the madness I was going through this year’s race results to be submitted for the club’s AGM, only to find I’d done a rather disappointing amount of TTs/road races and hadn’t achieved any substantial PBs. I knew it’d been a year off after travelling, time to gather my thoughts, get some base miles and fitness back and undertake my duty as a full-time wedding guest (with a few too many whole weekend hangovers), so I shouldn’t really complain. But I felt quite sad I hadn’t achieved as much and time off the bike, or any exercise at all, was making it harder to get motivated and back on it… the season was rapidly coming to a close and deadlines passed there wasn’t much opportunity to cram in anything else (oh and I had more weddings and stuff to go to…).
Luckily a number of opportunities came up and one after the other I just said YES (ok, I said no first to some things but then said yes) and here we are… zzZZ!
Well it’s cyclocross season, so time to pop the knobblies back on my gorgeous Engineered Zondag (currently rocking some slick tyres after riding it for the Rapha Prestige) and hit the park. I’m determined to nail the mount and dismount, riding off road and start running a little tiny bit, to help when carrying the bike.
I’m also hoping to do some climbing and went to my first taster last night. I’m hoping it will, in addition to some exercises friends have kindly given me to do at home, help build some strength off the bike and more importantly develop a core… even a tiny one… anything will do!
I’m also going to sit down and write up a post about all the rad things I have been doing, but that requires time out and I’m not quite ready just yet!
I wasn’t entirely sure what the Rapha Prestige West Country was when I agreed to do it, just that teams of 4 would have to get to 4 checkpoints, which would be released 48 hours before the event. Rapha would give riders a route which could be followed exactly or amended to include more or less miles, on or off road, it was entirely down to you… making it an, errr, alleycat x sportive x race x audax? The answer was all and none of these things, it was awesome!
Sausage Watts Headset Press
Jamie had kindly organised some team jerseys so we could ride in style; I had a navy Rapha core jersey, which I teamed with a Rapha baselayer, Miltag shorts, Donkey Label socks and a Hunt Wheels cap!
- Rapha Archive Store
- Shepton MalletUphill, Weston-Super-Mare
- Cheddar Gorge
- Bristol Airport
Starting and finishing at Mud Dock, teams had to visit each checkpoint in the correct order using whatever route they liked as long as it did not include the A37, A38 or A368. The route recommended by Rapha came in around 110 miles but, with a few tips from our friends and a bit of local knowledge, we’d managed to get our route down to about 95 miles, with about 95% of it being ‘on-road’. With this in mind I decided to ride my Engineered Zondag, swapping the knobbly tyres for some slick 28s, which was super comfy and meant I had no problem on the muddy/gravel / rocky shortcuts.
The start was staggered and teams soon split after the first couple of back roads out of Bristol, heading to the checkpoints in order meant that whilst you might be taking a different route to other teams, you’d usually cross paths a few times on the way and meant you didn’t feel pressured or rushed to get anywhere fast as you had no idea which way was better or how anyone else was doing. It’s this which made the day so much fun, meeting so many people, riding roads we wouldn’t usually take and bumbling along quiet lanes in the sunshine with friends – bliss!
Kudos to Rapha for organising the day so well, with such fun checkpoints, people found themselves shopping for discounted Rapha apparel in the archive store whilst filling their bottles and grabbing a Nut bar, enjoying ice lollies, Pedal Bites with an espresso or can of coke on the beach and chomping a cheese and pickle sarnie at the top of Cheddar Gorge!
Back at Mud Dock a feast was served, RaphaxMud Dock beers were drunk and everyone was able to share stories of their day or gab a shower, whilst the remaining teams rolled in. Although not a race there were prizes for ‘First Team’, ‘First Womens Team’, ‘King of Pain’, ‘Best Hashtaggers’, ‘Best Dressed’ and ‘Lantern Rouge’. We were stoked to pick up Best Hashtaggers, for documenting our day via social media, you can check out all the photos on Instagram under #raphaprestige and #prestigewestcountry.
Even as I type this now I find myself smiling, thinking of just how much fun Sunday was and how I’d love to go and do it all over again. Sadly i’m not sure I’ll be able to make the Womens Rapha Prestige on 18th September, but if you can I would urge you to do it!!
Right, today’s the day.
For no real reason, it’s a pretty standard Wednesday, but I’m going to attempt to start my blog again.
Having had some time off the bike, attending a tonne of weddings and ‘summer’ parties, I’m beginning to get really quite excited for training this winter.
It may sound like I’m wishing away the rest of summer and that’s definitely not the case, I LOVE the sun, however since coming home I’ve struggled to get back into a routine and find it easier in the winter. Realising how unfit I’d got being away, my plans of a full season of road racing went out the window, and I lost my TT mojo along the way too. Now, I’ve got some base miles in my legs and a semi-decent starting point, I’d like to have a go at ‘training’ for something and seeing if I could achieve more. The question is what?
I’ve still been doing the odd time trial, a couple of road races, a crit, some summer CX series, a spot of MTBing (with less tears) and some fun things like the Rapha Womens 100, Dundry Drubber and the Fred Perry ride, which has given me some new skills and a social life again – hurrah – but it’s still not really helped me make up my mind about what I want to do next year.
Luckily there’s still some time to decide and a diary of errr (mostly) fun things coming up which may help give me an idea, including the South West Rapha Prestige next weekend; a week in the Pyrenees at the beginning of September and the Revolve24 track cycling challenge at Brands Hatch 10/11 September, then it’s time to learn how to ride my CX bike properly for the winter CX series!
For many the season is coming to an end, but for me it’s just beginning!
It felt great to be back on the TT bike for my first event of the year and I was stoked to pick up 2nd lady. Realising I might not be totally useless after being a lazy travelling bum for just over 6 months I was looking forward to the rest of the season. So what happened…
Gillingham & District Wheelers (Hardriders) TT was a shining example of how not being prepared can totally mess up your game. After a super busy week I knew I had a hardriders TT coming up and yet I did absolutely nothing about it, even on the morning of the event I sort of crawled out of bed with no real plan of what I was doing, what time I should leave, no kit ready, no idea of what I was going to eat, drink – nada!
So it came as no surprise when I realised I had to leave NOW and I had no time. I am pretty used to getting my kit together now and decided against taking the turbo to warm up as it’s a total faff to change the back wheel on my TT bike and I wasn’t going to have time to waste getting wound up. The drive down was uneventful, a couple of slow tractors but that’s expected. On arrival I drove past the HQ to recce the route, as all I could remember was an epic downhill section… oh and a cat 4 climb at the very start…
Cutting a long story short, I got lost. I missed the turning, took several wrong turnings and then finally made my way back to the HQ having added an extra 20 minutes to my drive and boggling my mind as to which way the TT was actually going…
Having got changed, pinned my number on, put my front wheel in backwards and cycled around the block for 10 minutes, I was massively underprepared and loaded with foot cramp at the start. I had enough time to as ‘How long is this TT?’ to the guy about to hold my bike, before setting off… (it was 19 miles).
Needless to say it didn’t go well, I felt like rubbish, bonked in the first 5 minutes (at the top of the hill) and then felt terrible all the way around. I had no drink, because I’d bought a 750ml bottle which didn’t fit in my TT frame, I still wasn’t sure or the route and I was hungry…
Having had a few words with myself, forced myself to remain on the drops whilst passing my family members which lived close by so were watching at points along the route, I made it back taking 2nd lady (of 3).
Drinking a cup of tea and munching on a doughnut, I ran through my day and realised every single element had totally ballsed up this time trial and I was entirely to blame. What was the point in paying to race (luckily TTs are cheaper than road races) and coming all the way down here to ride for an hour to feel so lousy, I was just lucky really that more women didn’t turn up so I managed to win my petrol money back!
I am going to blame this one on the fact I was distracted by my beautiful new CX bike (blog on this to come), but I know in reality it’s just because I didn’t prepare…
Tips on preparing for cycling events:
- Do your research – look up the course (if it’s too far to drive or cycle beforehand then use Google Maps) & know how long the TT/race is going to be…
- Fuel yourself – Eat well beforehand and take something to eat/drink after, preferably protein… in addition to cake. Take drinks for before, during and after your race/ride. If longer than an hour think about taking gels or some food.
- Get your kit ready – start from the bottom and pack yourself into a bag (I like to use a bag for life because whilst it’s not the most fashionable accessory it’s practical for chucking my kit in and grabbing things out quickly, plus they’re great when your kit is wet and stinky as you can just wipe them down!). Take options – it turned out to be a sunny day, so I was glad I had leg warmers rather than leggings, I wish I’d shaved my legs though!!
- Don’t introduce change – If you’re going to tweak your bike do not leave it until the last minute and make sure you ride it and are comfortable… Unfortunately for this TT we changed the extensions and saddle height the day before and I didn’t actually sit on my bike until 10 minutes before starting!! I have always felt more comfortable on my TT bike than my road bike, but this new set up felt totally alien.
- Warm up – Especially if the event stats on a category 4 climb… This is something I NEVER used to do, but if nothing else you take some time beforehand to have a little think or take your mind off. It’s also a good time to make sure your bike is all working ok.
- Enjoy yourself!
I’ve been wanting to update my blog for quite some time, to document my progress and experiences on and off the bike, but I didn’t and I regret it. Recently I’ve had to try and write about some of my adventures or the events I took part in and I was sad to say it was a bit of a struggle with such a useless memory and below average photography skills – so here I am.
I attempted to write a low down of last year, which perhaps I’ll try and revisit and publish soon, but it sort of spiralled out of control trying to cover everything! So, in short, I cycled a lot, did everything I’d set myself to do on the bike (including the Fred Whitton Challenge, the National 100 mile time trial, Red Hook Crit and won my first trophie(s))and said yes to a whole tone of other things and then I had a month off, went travelling for 3 months to China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand and then came home for Christmas…
Now it’s 2016, I am hopelessly trying to get back into some sort of fitness, to keep up with the wonderful ladies in the team I have joined, and have a couple of new bikes to play with…
Watch this space!
So I’ve got a new bike (a TT bike) and I’ve decided to take time trialling a little more seriously this year… i.e. actually ride my bike in-between events (rather than just turning up once a week and hoping I’ll have magically improved), turning up on time for events (not getting an alright time… even though I started 2 minutes late) and warming up (because I really can’t count the frantic rush to get to events as a proper ‘warm up’…). I’ve also got a coach, which I’ve decided to do for various reasons and I’ll post about this soon.
It’s going well and I had my first event this weekend, in which I was really stoked to take second lady! Everyone has been really supportive and I hope I can keep it up… although I know this will mean I need to keep at it.
However not everyone has been so encouraging, in fact some people have been damn right negative about it and it’s really starting to get my back up (which is not ideal on a TT bike!!). Sure training is hard sometimes and yes sometimes you have to ride and you don’t really want to ride the efforts, but you want to race and you want to improve so you do it anyway and when you get the results you are happy you did stuff you didn’t want to. However, sometimes you do actually enjoy training and riding your bike when you don’t have. Either way, it doesn’t mean you don’t ride your bike because you want to and these negative people really seem to think that only they can ride their bike and enjoy it because they’re not training for anything and I couldn’t possibly do that, because I am ‘training’ for something.
I’m not sure if it is a defensive method, maybe they wish they were training for something and could get involved, or maybe it’s because they don’t like seeing people achieving things? I’m not sure, but it’s really rather naff and I feel sorry for everyone who is on the receiving end when they’re just trying to do their best and be a little better in life!
The minute you say you are ‘training’ for anything it’s like people look at you totally different, like you’re a ‘serious cyclist’ now. What does that even mean?
I ride my bike because I like riding my bike. I am ‘training’ because I want to see what happens if I really push myself and put some effort in for the first time in my life. I like to set myself challenges because that’s what life is for and it’s really enjoyable when you achieve… and if you don’t you learn something about yourself.. or maybe you just fail, meh. I like riding my bike on my own. I like riding my bike with my friends.
I am going to ride my bike around the city centre of Bristol this evening with my girls and we are going to talk and eat more than we’ll ride… does that mean I can’t train anymore?
This is what a blog is for though right?
I’ve just read my last blog.
Summer came and went and I’m not sure what happened. I think I got out and rode my bike, I led some Sky Rides, I continued to PB my time trial efforts and came 3rd in the BSCC Classic League, I did my first 50 and loved it, I continued to go on club runs, I rode with friends and to the lido, but otherwise I can’t remember what I did. It all came and went so quickly and I felt like I spent most of my time in an office.
I didn’t write a single blog and perhaps if I had I might have been able to look back on all the wonderful things I may or may not have done last summer.. who knows!
I started this blog as a sort of public diary of the journey and adventures of a girl that got a bicycle. When I came to terms with the fact I was a ‘cyclist’, which was around the same time I got my second fixie and some SPDs, I decided to blog about the progress made and the events I took part in as a method of encouragement and comfort to anyone else who found themselves in my shoes.
I didn’t keep up my posts because I didn’t have a laptop, then I did but is was a Mac and I hated it/don’t know how to use it, because of work commitments, because I couldn’t be bothered or I was too busy actually riding my bike to write about it… and a number of other rather lame excuses. It was frustrating because then when I did want to write a blog, I didn’t feel I could unless I filled in all the gaps since my last post.
Anyway. Moving on, I am going to attempt to restart my blog and use it as an opportunity to reflect on the past couple of years (in no particular order), plan for this year (I’ve officially lost the plot) and simply blog for the sake of blogging about whatever I fancy blogging about… most of which will probably be cycling related or food.. or a method of reassuring myself 6 bikes are necessary…
It might also help me remember what I have been doing with my time. Is it normal for someone at my age to have such a bad memory?
Anyway, first ramble of 2015 over and done with…