Round-Up of 2016

This years been a bit of a random one. The type that makes you think, how on earth did all of that happen? 

The year didn’t start off great. I’d gone into it wanting to go full steam ahead with downhill racing, but if you’ve been following my blog that clearly didn’t happen. 

Seriously…I went from this…


To this…


What on earth happened?!?

Jokes aside, I’d got to a point in my life where I realised I needed to sort everything out. I was 19 years old and working part-time. I was still learning to drive. In my head I should have been on the path to a high-flying career. Unrealistic I know…

Basically I wasn’t where I wanted to be. 

Having so many shoestrings untied was starting to affect me and how happy I was. This came to light at my first downhill race of the season. I can’t even remember if I actually went up for my race run or not. 


I was making my way down the hill during practice at Revolution Bike Park, which was one of my favourite places to ride. I have so many amazing memories there. Riding with great people. Conquering rather large drop-offs and hitting the Freeride just a little bit faster than expected. Why wouldn’t I be enjoying myself?

Life unfortunately got in the way of riding bikes.

One minute I was riding, then I was slowly going completely rigid and my breathing was shallow. Being able to concentrate had obviously gone straight out of the window. So I had to make my way down the hill on the fire roads. Rolling back down to the car park, I’d had another panic attack. I say another because I’ve had plenty.

They’re completely draining. I got home and I went straight to bed. I slept for hours longer than I normally do. I was trying to carry on like normal when I clearly wasn’t ok.

Checking Roots & Rain I did actually race. Although my time was way off what I would normally ride. The guys I’d gone to the race with had managed to persuade me to race. I don’t know how, but they did. It’s times like that when you realise how amazing some people actually are.

Hitting rock bottom as hard as I did, from then on I slowly started to sort myself out. I decided I needed to be selfish and just focus on me for a bit. Do what I needed to do. Sort out what I needed to sort out. Only then I could move forward. 

Panic attacks flared up at random points through the year. In a driving lesson. At the Doctor’s when I was going there for something completely different. Sometimes I could feel them build up over a few days before they hit properly. 

Looking back now, all that seems a lot longer than a few months ago. 


Since then I’ve passed my driving test, got a full-time job (apprenticeship to be exact) and completed a Duathlon, which I’ve always wanted to do! Passing my driving test wasn’t easy and I didn’t think I’d get offered the apprenticeship either! I even decorated my bedroom…which was long overdue! Getting all of it done was like having a massive weight taken off my shoulders.

So you could say the first 6 months were a bit of a write-off, but the last 6 were a complete whirlwind. I’ve accumulated so many memories, seen beautiful places and gained amazing friends. I know 2016 was a bad year for the world in so many ways, but I’d like to thank everyone who’s been there for me throughout it. It’s been a tough one, but definitely worth it.

What A Cyclist Does In London

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When I initially think of London, cycling doesn’t tend to be the first thing that comes to mind. More sky high buildings and jam packed roads. Businessmen in suits getting frustrated with the copious amounts of tourists. The distinct lack of mountains making trails hard to come by. As well as it’s jam packed roads, London doesn’t exactly scream ‘cycling city’.

But if you look a little deeper, the cycling scene in London is stronger than ever. Chain-gangs circling the many parks. Bike shops hidden away in amongst the hustle and bustle of the capital of Great Britain.

So what’s spouted from this great cycling scene?

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First off is the cycling store that is Rapha. Started in 2004, Rapha has become one of the most well-known brands in London as well as being known worldwide. Previously the kit sponsor for Team Sky, Rapha portrays quality in the products they sell. In amongst the shops of Brewer Street, the half bike/half coffee shop is any roadie’s dream and a must if visiting London.

With kit varying from socks to full Lycra sets, as well as being full of cycling memorabilia, Rapha is a definite past-time for any roadie visiting the big city.

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More new to the scene is the London shop for Swiss cycling brand, ASSOS. Walking into the white-washed wall shop you’re surrounded by cycling kits for every climate. From cold winter months to sweltering Alpine summer rides, there’s kit for just about any conditions.

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With the welcoming guys behind the counter, who are rather knowledgeable about the local cycling scene, ASSOS go above and beyond to find you the right kit. A static bike in the back, you can actually see what the kits you’re considering fits like in the riding position before you buy it. We all know comfort in paramount on those long rides…

Walking around a bike shop it is common to find a women’s specific section, but rather than splitting the sport into what is already segregated enough, ASSOS split their shop into collections. A pink cover on the coat hanger representing the women’s kit.

And before you think ‘well women’s kit shouldn’t be represented by the colour pink’, the padding on all of their kit is pink. I often found myself picking up men’s kit before noticing the pink sleeves on some of the coat hangers!

Pink is just ASSOS’s colour. And I’m a fan of it too.

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Last on the list (well this list) is the more MTB focussed shop; Soho Bikes London. Being involved in mountain biking before trying road, Soho Bikes has been on my radar for a while. Popular shows on YouTube and also having a coffee shop like Rapha, walking around it shows Soho is more about the mountain biker or commuter.

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Filled with mountain bike memorabilia from the likes of Steve Peat,  Soho is not your ordinary bike shop. Walking in you’ll find their coffee shop, from which you’ll be led deeper into the shop past Soho merchandise and bikes from the likes of Santa Cruz, Trek and Orange.

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Despite the differences in the objectives of each, it was clear the one common feature was coffee. Any cyclist, whether road or MTB, will always appreciate a good quality coffee.

London at Christmas Part 2: Southbank

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This time around walking up the steps from the tube, we were walking into crowds of people with Big Ben dominating the landscape in the background. We were back in central London on the banks of the River Thames.

 

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Back in Chelsea it looked like a sunset was on the cards and by that I mean one that would be good to photograph.

The result? Running round like a headless chicken trying to get a million photos before the light went completely.

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It was only then we could actually look around the Christmas markets of Southbank, which is so much better than the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park by the way! Southbank had plenty of homemade gifts and food to eat. Southbank seemed to represent more accurately the spirit of Christmas. It wasn’t just a money maker.

With darkness now upon us and a train to catch it was a shame we couldn’t have spent longer on the Southbank, but I suppose that leaves more for us to explore when we return…

London at Christmas Part 1: Chelsea

Walking out of South Kensington Station we were confronted by a Lamborghini garage and a Bentley driving past….we were definitely in Chelsea. Uniform buildings three or four floors high with flower boxes on each window. Paved pathways passing the many gates providing access to the six-figure Chelsea houses. Steps up to their painted doors and Christmas wreaths hanging from their iron cast door-knockers.

It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, which we’d accidentally found ourselves on the night before.

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We had no real agenda in Chelsea, I just wanted to go there. Ok it might slightly have something to do with the fact I watch Made in Chelsea on a regular basis…but anyway that’s not the point.

I was just in awe of how pretty it all was. How a few miles away you can be crammed in amongst hundreds of people all trying to get to different places. Then you have, Chelsea with multiple picturesque streets empty till the homeowners return from work.

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Granted the shops contains price tags way above what I could afford, the money I’d spent in Urban Outfitters in Selfridges the night before seemed somewhat mediocre. I think I got lucky with this outfit though because Selfridge’s price tags had quite a few 0’s on the end too!

I felt serious guilt buying this outfit (skirt and jumper photographed) but I knew it would be one of those things I’d regret not buying.

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So our trip round Chelsea was more of just a wander, but we did manage to wander round places like the Saatchi Art Gallery as well as having a tasty lasagne in POCO on the Duke of York’s Square. From the craziness of central London the night before it was nice to see some of the quieter parts of the big city.

 

Winter Miles Make Summer Smiles…

7.30am on a Sunday morning and I’ve never jumped out of bed so quick! Why?

Breakfast Muffins….need I say anymore?

After slowly makin my way through a coffee to wake myself up and a quick check of my bike I was out of the door to ride my bike.

Following meeting Ryan, off we went down some local country lanes. I had no clue where we were going mind. I was just following Ryan.


Despite being struck down with a sore throat for a few weeks I was somehow cruising at 17mph. Most would think I was being pulled along by Ryan, but he was on my right rather than in front.

God knows where that power came from.

Turning here and there and deciding which houses (probably with rather large prices tags) we liked the most, the miles were soon racking up.


The full ride was no 60 miler, it was actually half that. But it was a lot more than what I have done for a while.


Crossing the bridge in Farndon we soon arrived at our cafe stop, Cleopatra’s Bistro & Cafe. It wouldn’t be a Sunday ride without coffee and cake would it?


Yikes…I sound like a roadie…