British National TT Championships, Isle of Man

It’s sometimes the shorter the trip is, the more you remember. You still try to squeeze as much in, but you’re still determined to go back.

No sooner was I being thrown back into my seat at the start of the runway at Liverpool Airport, I was landing in the Isle of Man. That little island in the middle of the Irish Sea. The sea water as blue as anything, and country lanes winding through the rolling fields. It takes us 20 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. Specifically to … where the British National TT Championships were being held. Ryan was racing and I was just there to wander around with my camera.


Waiting for his race slot was tense. He was helping the now National TT Champion, Claire Rose, by going in her team car at midday. But he still had the rest of the day to try and occupy himself because it wasn’t like he could even go and ride his bike.

I was stupidly in the Isle of Man without my bike, which is the worst mistake anyone could make by the way! The U23 girls were set up on Turbo-Trainers to warm-up. The women were sorting their race kit. It took me back to when I raced downhill. It made me miss racing…a lot. Maybe I’ll find some Time-Trials that aren’t on Dual Carriageways to try…

The day passed with the results racking up:

Women’s National Champion: Claire Rose

Claire 2.jpg

U23 Women’s National Champion: Anna Christian

U23 Men’s National Champion: Scott Davies

There was only the men’s race left now.

With part of the course going along the coast, that’s where I decided to head. I couldn’t really do much at race HQ so I thought I may as well go and take some photos when Ryan is racing. There was the small task of the 4 mile walk there though. I suppose I could have ran it but without running trainers and a camera in my bag…that wouldn’t have been the best idea!

I’d walked quite away when I asked one of the marshals which was the quickest way to the coast road. They pointed me in the right direction, but then offered to drive me there. Lifesavers! So at the coast much quicker than anticipated, I just needed to find a decent spot to photograph the riders. A tip to myself for next time I’m doing this? Wear more appropriate shoes/clothes. Shorts weren’t the best idea for walking through long grass…

I may also end up on TV in my bright yellow Timberland jacket…o dear!

I managed to find a good spot on a bend called ‘Devil’s Elbow’ and was waiting for Ryan to come past. For some random reason I’d got it in my head his start time was 19.07. It was actually 18.54, so you can imagine me trying to rush to press the shutter when he came past earlier than I’d expected! Thankfully I still managed to get some photos.


The hour he was racing was possibly the most tense I had been for a while. The two times he came past (they were doing two laps of the one lap course the women did) I couldn’t figure out whether he felt good on the bike or was struggling.


It was a good while before I knew how he’d got on as well with the signal being touch and go on the island. Once he’d come past the second time, I made my way back to the race HQ, which I had to walk this time. It was a pretty long walk with a camera in my bag, but surprisingly I didn’t get lost. My memory of certain roads must be getting better!

When I finally got back to the race HQ I found he’d finished the course in 1 hour 4 minutes, which was exactly the time he wanted to achieve. What a relief! Steve Cummings became the National Champion with a time of 57 minutes and 18 seconds.

We then had the task of finding food at 9 o’clock at night, which isn’t as easy as it sounds! Even the chip shops were shut, but thankfully a Chinese was still open. We clearly have strong athlete diets…ha!

Look out for my next blog post where we explored Peel before having to head back on the ferry (boo!).

Where did all of the trees go?

So those bikes with spongy forks and knobbly tyres do still exist. Those things called mountain bikes! With my exams out the way I can finally have my life back. 

Saturday morning was the first time I’d got out of a car at Llandegla to be hit by hot and not cold temperatures, and there was a fairly big group of us to get to the top!

A steady climb to the top was followed by a few surprised faces. The trees had gone! No longer is there a tree lined start to the descent, but instead open hillside scattered with tree stumps. With it being such a clear day, it opened up a new view from the top that was pretty special. It did mess with my head though…I couldn’t figure out which part of the trail I was on .

It was such a relaxed ride where I could catch up with everyone. There were new faces on the ride and familiar faces I had a lot of catching up to do with! I always feel guilty for not seeing them more, but nothing ever changes when I do see them! Apart from the fact one has a super cute baby, who I hope is enjoying their first Father’s Day. And the loveliest couple ever having lots of holidays planned. With one of those holidays being Whistler…I’m a little jealous!

We would sometimes spilt up to do different sections of trail, but meeting up at the cafe to have burgers meant we could re-group again. For £6.95, the BBQ is a bargain as not only is there quality meat (I’m sure there’s veggie options too!) you can pile your plate with salad. On busy weekend days, there’s less waiting for your food too. It’s a no brainer really. 

This is only a short post, but how can you not write about such a beautiful day? I could catch up with friends and my brother. It was just overall a good day and what mountain biking should be. Friends and fun times. However, Ryan’s morning ride wasn’t so stress free after breaking a spoke. Luckily it happened in Llandegla village, so I could give home a lift home!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and didn’t get some rather dodgy tan lines like me! Including some elbow pads tan lines and a white X on my back. For the places I did remember to put sun cream on though, the Nivea Protect and Refresh sun spray worked really well. And it was only Factor 20!

Cafe’s worth stopping at this weekend…

Since being introduced to the world of road rides and cafe stops, I’ve slowly developed a list of fool-proof places to visit and refuel when out on a ride. With the weather supposedly on its way this weekend, why not visit one and let me know if you love them too! After all, a sunny ride out isn’t complete without a cafe stop!

1.T.H. Roberts Coffee Shop, Dolgellau

If you’re looking for a good breakfast to fuel your day on the bike, then this is the place to be. You get so much food!! The coffee is amazing and the hot chocolates come with all of the cream and marshmallows you could ask for. With a quirky interior and relaxed atmosphere, it will definitely be a place we revisit.

2. Ty Coffi, Bala


The ‘Seven Gates’ route we took near Bala was definitely not a forgiving one, so finding this little gem of a coffee shop was a relief. Be warned to not let your eyes convince you into eating everything. The food was perfect, but the ride back was tough on a full stomach. Located on the high street in Bala, the multiple tables outside (and in) easily fill up, but it’s certainly worth a visit!

3. Jemoley’s, Penyffordd

If you have children to occupy (whether out on the bikes or not), this little cafe is perfect! Like with all of the cafe’s in this post, I can say the food & coffee is great. Ryan goes for the Eggs Benedict every time! The quirky part to this cafe is that it’s also a Ceramic’s Studio. They can paint anything from mugs and plates to little ornaments of animals.

4. The Old Fire Station Cafe, Malpas

On the main street in Malpas, this would be a perfect stop if you’re making your way through the Cheshire country lanes. The staff were lovely and their sausage butties and cake will be what drag me and Ryan back there. It is worth noting however that they’re closed on Sundays, so maybe pay a visit on a Saturday or mid-week ride out.

5. La Reina Tea Shop, Rhos on Sea

The most recent addition to my list, this hidden little coffee shop is a great stop if you’re cycling along the North Wales Coastal Path. Although, be warned, the many gifts and quirky house decor items in there are rather tempting to buy! With it being a little hidden, it’s great for a quiet cup of tea. If you do pay a visit, I’d recommend trying the bacon sandwiches! There’s none of these tiny pieces of bacon you get from the supermarket, but really thick medallions of it.

6. Chocks Away Diner, Hawarden

Now, warning, cheesy sentence coming your way! This was actually the first cafe me and Ryan rode out to. It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to visit, and he knew the way ha! We did take a little while to get out on the bikes together, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up ha! By the photo, you might be thinking this cafe isn’t exactly like any other cafe. That’s because it isn’t. It’s on the end of a runway! You have to go past security guards (who are kind by the way!) to get to it. Located at Hawarden Airport, it’s great if you want great food and a cafe that’s a little different. It’s fairly large too, so great for group rides.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, whether bikes are involved or not. 

Running into the Irish Sea

Half 6 was rather an early time to be woken up on the Sunday morning, but Ryan had the start line of a TT to be on for his race slot at 8.45. 

I waited for the first 15 minutes while he covered the 10 mile TT course in St Asaph. The last 5 minutes were me anxiously waiting to see if he’d get a sub 20 minute finish time or not. He did…just…at 19 minutes 52 seconds. The fastest he’s ever been on the course despite the strong winds. 

Averaging 30 mph isn’t exactly an easy task I guess.

An early start did mean we still had most of the day left to fill, which we’d do cycling along the coastal path.

The sea going from a dull blue rippled by the wind to a rich emerald every time the sun popped out from behind the clouds.

Seagulls bobbing up and down on the waves or flapping like crazy against the sea breeze and getting nowhere. 

The path twisting and turning along the coast with a new view around the corner. The odd steep piece of path with the potential to catch you out if you were in the wrong gear. 

Waves crashing against the rocks. The sounds of which I could listen to all day.

The rhythmic splashing as the waves go back and to.

Countless amounts of dogs dragging their owners to every new smell they pick up with wagging tails to match. 

A main road not too far away, but we were to pre-occupied with the sight of the sea.

Taking a break in a quaint coastal tea shop, full of unique & detailed gifts you’d struggle to find anything similar anywhere else.

Nautical scarves, photo frames and little trinkets with seaside quotes on the side like,

“Love anchors the soul.”

Filling ourselves with bacon butties and pots of tea.

Not those pathetic thin pieces of bacon, but the type you’d only find in a local butchers.

A tailwind pushing us back to the point at which we started.

Only to finish by running barefoot into the crashing waves as they crawled further and further up the pebbled beach.

Sand trickling between our toes and waiting with anticipation to see how big the next wave was going to be.

Our spontaneous trip into the sea was without spare clothes and towels after all…

And we’d be silly to expect the Irish Sea to be anything but cold. 

Just doing without a care for the consequences.

Every laugh and crashing wave making any worry, no matter how small, become insignificant. 

The pebbles warm as we walked back to the car park, but sharp at times against my wet and sandy feet meaning I had a piggy back to the van.

The seaside now bustling with people compared to the ghost town it appeared to be when we’d first arrived earlier that day. 

Fords and Lamb Tails

I’ve not written on here for a while and I’m really sorry about that! Being in the middle of exams my mind has been on other things, but I couldn’t leave it any longer.

I was still unsure on whether to go out when I woke up this morning. Surely I should get some more revision done? Yet waking up to more awful news, it only highlighted how important it is to find the balance between working and living is.

So I was off with the plan of going to Llangollen and back, although my legs were not a huge fan of my decision! It was clear I’d not ridden up any big hills for a while.

Thankfully it was sunny. I doubt I would have got very far if it was raining, especially with my legs aching minutes in.

It felt almost alien being on my bike with the amount of swimming I’ve been doing lately. It’s mad how the tables of turned. I’ve always loved cycling and running with swimming being ok. I could swim, but for all of one length. Now I’d say my swimming is stronger than my run!

I’ve always had an issue with one side of my body being stronger than the other, particularly my core. However, I think swimming is slowly sorting this out. Thanks to a Swim2Fit session at Total Fitness, where he coach got me breathing on both sides. 

This was one of the things that felt alien on the bike, my core seemed to be working differently than normal. Or maybe all of what I’ve just said is some random theory I’ve made up and it’s just absence from cycling being the issue! 

So I’m cycling along, legs hurting, but it was just nice to be outside. That’s the only thing with revision, it never really works outside.

It was a quiet Sunday morning and it was becoming a pleasant solo ride. Sometimes solo rides and time to yourself become rather enjoyable, whether you think you need time away from everything or not. I could change route whenever and explore places I’d not seen yet. I was crossing my fingers however that I wouldn’t get lost!

That’s why I’ve been swimming so much lately. It doesn’t require a lot of thinking. I can completely switch off in the pool. I did the same on my bike. All that was on my mind was what turning to take next! Not Airframe materials or the construction of aircrafts. I love those topics, but sometimes you just need a break! 

I was meandering through the moors towards World’s End, which isn’t all that far from Llandegla. The further I got into the hills, the quieter it became. Little fluffy lambs and their full tummies still with fur that’s crystal white. Some would dart off into the heather, others would stare at me in horror having no idea where to run. My legs were already dead at this point, so it’s not like I was going very fast!

I would have loved to take some photos of them, but I think it was a better idea to keep my legs turning the pedals…

It was soon time to start the descent towards Llangollen, but there was the tackling of a Ford to get across first…which thankfully happened with no dramas! So I could relax and carry on down the country lanes with scrag rock dominating the skyline on one side, and tall trees on the other.

The temptation to take photos was too much! I wish I could find a small enough DSLR to carry round with me on my bike though. iPhone photos never really do Wales justice!

Getting towards Crow Castle in Llangollen, I wanted to visit a cafe Ryan’s mentioned in the past. It was a lovely cafe, but didn’t take cards. And my card is all I had. So I had to cope with a banana and a Cliff Bar I’d thankfully packed instead. The kettle would be going on as soon as I got home however!

Rather than head to the Horseshoe Pass like I’d originally planned, I decided to stick to the country lanes to make my way back towards home. I just wish I could have navigated my route a bit better so I could stay on the country lanes longer. 

The route ended up being 38 miles, which is the longest route I’ve done for a while. I got home eventually…