Avoiding Pine Cones & Hill Climbs

When I first started doing more cycling on the road, you’d normally find me in the hills. They were the roads I knew most and at the time were what I thought to be the most accessible. When the longer miles were a lot tougher for me, the promise of a good view would always keep me pedalling!
This weekend we returned to the hills on, not a route I’d previously ridden, but through some areas I knew fairly well.

Apparently up the ‘easy’ side of the hill we were climbing…it was a long way up! From what I can remember, there was one small section you could briefly recover before it turned into a long slog up again. I could tell I’d not ridden steep hills for a while!

Following Ryan’s rear wheel, I was actually enjoying the route. It was just good to be out under the blue skies amongst everyone else enjoying the sunshine too. I kind of feel like Mother Nature knew the UK needed a weekend of good weather with everything that’s been going on lately.

Coming up to a junction in he completely wrong gear, riding up the hill around the corner was interesting to say the least. It was an ‘out of the saddle’ sprint just to get up it without having to stop…and I somehow managed it!

What goes up must come down, and approaching a descent Ryan told me I wouldn’t need my brakes, I was desperately trying not to reach for the brakes. Despite doing Downhill MtB for a few years, descending isn’t exactly a skill of mine yet. On closed roads free of potholes I’d probably be a little more confident, but the reality is obviously the opposite!

All the way down, all sorts was going through my head:

‘Don’t touch the brakes, just don’t touch the brakes’

‘Gah you just had to touch the brakes didn’t you’

‘Pine cones….yep definitely need to avoid those!’

I was glad to get off that road….

The ride was quite eventful in some ways to be honest. Riding along a country lane and a bird hunting for food swoops down from a tree above me. It was one of those surreal moments because it so rarely happens.

The time passed fairly swiftly just like the miles. I wasn’t expected the 24 miles my Garmin showed after I pressed the stop button!

Battling the West Pennines

Going into this weekend I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but then nobody can predict racing can they!

A 14 mile Time Trial was the challenge. I’d been riding between 25 and 30 miles regularly, so 14 shouldn’t be a problem right? Those rides weren’t that slow, but I certainly wasn’t going full effort for an hour like I would be for the TT. The only time I’d pushed myself for an hour and above was a Duathlon last October and I remember that that hurt a lot!

Rocking up to the West Penine Road Club’s TT the skies were grey and rain was falling down. On a drive around the 14 mile loop, the roads were riddles with puddles and water running off the fields. 

How on earth was I going to get around this? On a bike we’d built the night before. I say we because I ended up requiring help off Ryan when I decided to have a complete mind blank on how to build a bike. I’d not done it as a job for a year or anything…

The rain kept falling and I was trying to figure out how I could pin a number to an expensive waterproof jacket without putting holes in it. Luckily I’d chucked in a £10 Endura jacket that was going cheap online. I like to support my local bike shop as much as I can, but that £10 jacket has now become the jacket I’ll use for TT’s where rain is causing chaos. I’d also put my Mavic gloves last minute, which I’m now incredibly glad I did!

TT tip number one? Packed for all kinds of weather as you never know what you’ll end up dealing with even if the Weather app on your phone tells you you’re going to dodge the rain….

One thing I noticed fairly soon after arriving was how nice everyone was. I told all the other girls I met good luck and then it was time for me to get changed. And get a certain bike to fit me! Seat and bar adjustments needed to be made…all minutes before a race but hey ho…ha!

I’d heard about the TT after Joanna Rowsell had posted it on Twitter encouraging more girls to enter. The part that shocked me the most was that she was the one to ensure there was equal prize money for both men and women, even if she had to put some money in herself. With the large start list with plenty of girls in the mix, there wasn’t actually a problem funding the equal prize money.

Since meeting Ryan, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying a TT. Road cycling had become a much bigger part of my life whilst I tried to find job and build a career. It was easy to get out on the road bike straight out of my back door, where as mountain biking would rarely end up materialising. I just wanted to go out and pedal, and road cycling offered that even if it was on my brother’s bike which was two sizes too big!

When a message popped up on my phone off Ryan asking if I’d checked the start list, I was getting worried! I was expecting a jam packed field of pro’s I’d be at the back of, however the surprise was much more pleasant than that. Ryan’s start time was a minute behind my start time meaning we could start together pretty much. It also meant he could brief me on what on earth was going on!

Clipped in and held upright until it was time for me to go, I was given a bit of a push to get going and off I went to experience my first ever Time Trial. 

The first part was a bit of a mess for me if I’m honest, I’d find myself in the completely wrong gear going up 10% gradients or not knowing how my bike would hold its line on the descents. The roads were like rivers and roads I didn’t know either with the TT being up in Clitheroe near Preston. However, passing a speed checkers that brought up 20mph I started to feel a little bit more confident on the bike. I was expecting to be going much slower!

When they called it a hilly time trial they weren’t kidding! From the TT’s I’d been to watch Ryan compete in they were dual-carriageways or flat roads. This TT was the opposite, especially with it finishing with a 10% uphill gradient toward the finish! Wind and rain battering me through every pedal stroke I somehow found myself caught unawares at the finish. So TT tip No. two? Find a few landmarks you can use to gauge how far you’ve got to go! Or a fancy Garmin to sit on your bars, but I’ll stick to the less expensive landmarks option for now!

Ryan with his 4th place!!!

Rolling back to the race HQ after attempting to shout my number to the guy on the finish line, I was soaked! My Mavic gloves were dripping wet, yet I had the biggest smile on my face. My first Time Trial had given me such a buzz. To some the thought of hurting yourself for an hour sounds like hell, but for me it was pushing past limits I’d not stretched before. Putting my everything into every pedal stroke. Beating my target of a sub-hour time by 7 minutes. So many good things came from doing that race in the pouring rain. I was so close to not doing it because of the weather, but sometimes switching off your brain to do something outside of your comfort zone can be the most uplifting thing you’ll ever do.

Let’s not forget we got to meet one of Britain’s most successful female cyclists, Joanna Rowsell, who’s recently announced her retirement and is going on to study at University. I still can’t get over how down-to-earth and genuine she was. She didn’t just put her name against the event, she stood outside in the pouring rain to marshal and helped organise tand alongside her husband, Daniel Shand.

A big thank you to them both and of course the West Penine’s Cycling Club. Everyone involved in the event can’t be thanked enough! I’ll look forward to seeing everyone somewhere on the TT circuit in the future!

Springtime Cycling


We’d not done a ride with a cafe stop for a while. I just prefer getting back home to a warm drink rather than stopping half way round, but it just felt like the type of day where a cafe stop was a good idea. No record timings were required either with Ryan racing the following day!

With a cafe set in a little Cheshire village in mind, off we went.

Any ride out into Cheshire is a favourite of mine. I just love how there are so many country lanes that intertwine to make up so many different routes.

We even decided to film this ride, so I’ll let the video show you where we ended up.

Let me know what you think!

#WorkoutWednesday – 8th March 2017

I’ve not got round to posting about my statistics for February yet, so to kick this week’s Workout Wednesday I thought I’d go through a few stats I accumulated over the second month of 2017. 

Where cycling is concerned, I was shocked to realise how little I’d actually been out getting some miles in. With a trip to London taking up one weekend and Storm Doris taking over another, I suppose it can be expected…so a measly 25 miles was done on the bike.

For running, I managed to fit 19 miles, which wasn’t as much as the 33 miles ran in January. (Sticking to my training plan isn’t going great is it…!) But I did find a new route, which I’m eager to try again! It was a very hilly 6.5 miles. On my way round though I did find a few trails that looked intriguing, so if I get some good weather I’ll give hem a go and see where they take me.

When it comes to swimming, it is where I seem to have made a lot of progress. My February goal was to complete 200m of continuous swimming at some point during a swim session in February. March the goal was 300m. I say ‘was’ because I’ve actually already managed it tonight in the pool! The four more lengths to get me from 200m to didn’t seem as long as they use to be!

Something I wanted to highlight about my training this week was kickboxing. Me and my brother have been talking about going for so long and this week we finally got round to going. It definitely tested my flexibility and I needed to find my aggressive side to make the  most of the session, but honestly? It was one of the most empowering things I’ve done for a while. 

Growing up female you’re not expected to be aggressive. I’m not talking going round and hitting everything in sight. A girl doing something like kickboxing isn’t a common occurrence…I’ve not met many girls who do it anyway! 

It was a mixed class of men and women. Some obviously knew what they were doing, and then you had me and my brother…who didn’t have a clue! But there were no judgemental looks thrown my way because I was a competitive newbie. Everyone there was purely there for kickboxing. In the gym I always feel like people are constantly judging my every move, but with kickboxing I completely lost myself in it. When leaving, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders!

If you take one thing from this post, I’d say give kickboxing a go. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post on International Women’s Day! I have been lucky enough to have some amazing women support me throughout my life. Whether it’s the morals I now follow because of them, or being there for me when I seemed to be a little bit lost on what career path to take. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

#WorkoutWednesday – 1st March 2017

I included a little press-up challenge in my training this week – one I came across whilst searching for a song off mountain bike film, Life Cycles.

Sally Down? Go down into the press up position.

Sally Up? Push yourself back up.

Don’t be surprised if you have to hold yourself in the bottom of the press up position for a while!

Why not have a go and let me know how long you lasted! I use to be able to last for 1 minute 24. It was only a minute this week though…I clearly have some work to do on my upper body strength!