Swimming with Fishes

Swimming outside in the likes of lakes and meres has always been something I’ve wanted to do. After my failed attempt around this time last year, I’ve been working on my swimming ever since to try and conquer it. That and getting my body accustomed to being a bit cold!

Towards the end of this week I decided I wanted to try out my new Hubb wetsuit, which I bought a few weeks ago. Although this meant an early start to get to Manley Mere, I was curious to see how I’d get on.

Once kitted up it was a bit warmer than I’d expected. My hesitant first toe dip into the water, I didn’t feel the chill through my body I was expecting. It was actually quite pleasant. It was a little different when water started going through the zip of my wetsuit however! 


Since my last attempt, I’ve been working on my swimming quite a lot. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but that’s something I want to change. Especially after getting the Triathlon bug and now wanting to try an outdoors one. 

So I’m a much stronger swimmer now, surely I’ll be ok?

Yea…swimming in open water is so much different to swimming in a pool! You’ve not got a wall to kick off every 25m…

But I gave it my best shot. My goal of trying to get at least the first buoy tarnished my weeds getting stuck around my ankle. And my body deciding it didn’t like the constant swimming. 

After my little dilemma and standing at the edge of the lake with every part of me wanting to get back in. A lady who’d already been around the lake once offered to show me the ropes of outdoor swimming. Up until this point I’d only managed breast stroke, which is quite ironic as it has always been my weakest stroke. She pointed out front crawl was much easier to do than breast stroke in a wetsuit. 

I just struggled breathing out under water when I was swimming outside for some reason. So she got me doing breast stroke, but this time put my head under a few times to get used to it. 

And it worked! 

All of a sudden I was doing front crawl. Granted, not very far, but still, we had progress. I’d not come away from there a complete failure.

On first arriving, I couldn’t have felt more of a newbie with the amount of Iron Man tattoos around. But thanks to the lady who showed me the ropes, I couldn’t wait to go back. 

I wanted to swim for longer, but thought it was best to end on a high and go back again soon. Especially now I have more of an idea what I’m doing. The morning’s antics had completely tired me out, so I was glad Ryan was there to get me home! 

South Wales Valleys


Despite being a week off, this week has been a whirlwind of being busy! There was always something that needed doing. With that being said, it felt good to switch off for an hour and get out on my MTB. Something I’m not doing a great deal of lately.
I even got to tick off somewhere I’ve wanted to ride for so long…Bike Park Wales. It’s just somewhere I’ve not managed to get to. I wasnMt up for doing anything gnarly. I just wanted to pedal. To be outside and just think of what lay ahead of me. 
However, their network of trails is possibly one of the most complicated I’ve seen. I looked at their map and thought…yeah I’ll just see where the blue signs take me. So I’m not actually sure how I got to the top!

I must admit I was expecting it to be more like Llandegla with lots of XC loops, as well as some downhill tracks thrown into the mix. But it is very much more downhill focused, from my experience anyway. 


The ride up was lengthy and before I knew it after getting to the top, I was at the bottom. Perfect descents for an uplift I guess!

But as I’ve already said, I did want to just go for a pedal. With a Welsh National Time Trial I’ve decided to enter in a few weeks, I need to fit in as much pedalling as I can!

The climb up was good. I’m so used to the gravel tracks at Llandegla, it was nice to ride up some forest ascents for a change. After it was recommended to me by some lovely female mountain bikers, I decided to ride down Terry’s Belly. It was also the longest descent. 

It was a good choice.

It’s far from what I use to ride, but it was just berm after berm after berm. It was a good route to do with:

A) Being on my hardtail

B) Riding alone

Some guys did catch up to me on the way down however, so it was reassuring to not be completely on my own on the descent!

It felt so quiet at Bike Park Wales, I almost forgot it was a Saturday. I’m guessing the uplift was busier!


Despite the confusion on what trail I needed to follow to get to the top (and make sure I stayed on the Blue!), I got to the bottom with a smile on my face. I felt strong on the climbs now I was back on my hardtail. I bet the Juliana Strega I tried a few weeks back through Alf Jones Cycles would have been amazing!