Alderford Lake & Open Water Swimming

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A lot of what I do is overcoming the mental barrier to do it. This year a big goal is to gain confidence open water swimming. I’ve got confident in the pool now, so why not swimming outside too?

With the weather we’re having I knew it would be a good time to get my wetsuit back out. My last and first trip out in it wasn’t very successful at Manley Mere.

I messaged some friends I use to work with about Alderford Lake and I suddenly had plans to go open water swimming. With friends and not on my own this time.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

For newbies to open water swimming I’d definitely say Alderford Lake is better than Manley Mere. Alderford has an island in the middle and jetty’s you can swim too. Once you start swimming at Manley you’re committed to the 250m loop.

Squeezing into my wetsuit, we ventured into the lake. The expanse of water between me and the island was daunting. I knew I could do it if I managed to stay calm, but it was that weird situation of stressing about being able to stay calm.

Swimming in Alderford Lake

A few breaststroke’s in I was off. Slowly, but I was moving. I tried not to think about not being able to put my feet down and to just concentrate on my stroke instead.

I wasn’t quite ready to do front crawl, so I just carried on smoothly and calmly with breaststroke.

I must admit I was making my shoulders works that’s for certain!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

Getting to the island was a massive hurdle for me. How far I swam probably wasn’t even that far, but I’d managed to keep my Chimp in its cage for once.

It was a big hurdle that also came as a massive relief. Like a massive weight off my shoulders had lifted. Open water triathlons have always been something I’ve wanted to do, but the swimming has stopped me doing it.

I’d love to have stayed in the water longer, but knew my body had dealt with quite a lot for the hour we were in there. It was better to get out when I felt good in the water, than let myself get too tired.

From the island we went to the other side of the lake, I had another break, then took the same route back. Swimming with other people definitely makes difference and I can’t thank Natalie and Emma for being so patient!

Swimming in Alderford Lake

I’ve overcome the first big hurdle…onto front crawl in open water next!

Swimming in Alderford LakeAlderford Lake

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

With another scorching day on the cards, Ryan wanted to take me to Mallorca’s infamous climb, Sa Calobra. He warned me however there was going to be a lot of climbing! Formentor had possibly been the most climbing I had ever done, but now it was going to be Sa Calobra.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Heading up the Col de Femenia, the long ascents of the day began. This first climb was possibly one of my favourites of the day. It was quiet and everything was so untouched. Being so early in the ride, the climb wasn’t easy. The encouraging writing on the roads may have been just that…if I had a clue what any of it meant being in every language but ones I understand. I make that sound like I can speak a few languages, but it’s just English unfortunately. Learning Spanish or French would be good though.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Finally hitting the top of Col de Femenia, I could spin my legs a little. Normally I’d stop and have a breather, but I’ve figured it’s better to keep going past the top of climbs so my legs don’t seize up. My body definitely doesn’t like stopping and starting!

So we passed a few cyclists and had a little descent to ride, but climbing would soon resume. We had a break at a T-Junction where Ryan said this was the point I could bail on the ride if I wanted to, and we could go left to go and do more riding on the flat, or right to Sa Calobra.

Whether I could cope with the ride or not, we went to Sa Calobra. I knew I would have regretted turning left and not going to see what Sa Calobra was all about.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

I don’t remember much about the climb to Sa Calobra if I’m honest, what has stuck is getting to the Orange Seller at the top of it.

6 miles of descending lay ahead to the Port at the bottom.

I imagine going early, the descent would have been a lot less cluttered. Buses, cars and other cyclists not too confident on the descent meant it wasn’t as flowing as it could have been. Next time, I think I’d love to get up earlier and get there before the crowds did. Ascending wasn’t too bad when it’s busy, but descending can be a bit sketchy!

Getting to the bottom I realised I’d not quite filled my pockets with enough snacks to get me round. So although Ryan advised me not to, I grabbed a baguette as it felt like I’d already burned through my breakfast! I’ve hit a wall like that before, where you’re stomach feels empty. It’s just a downward slope for me from there. Even with the 6 mile climb we had to go back up, as long as I wasn’t going to sprint up Sa Calobra I’d be fine.

It’s funny what you learn from cycling when you’re younger and how useful growing up on the trails at Llandegla has been…ha! That climb taught me how important pacing was, which not many other cyclists going up the Sa Calobra seemed to understand. It wasn’t easy but I managed to ride all the way up. I stopped for one photo…but soon regretted it so just carried on to the top after that.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Going down Sa Calobra you don’t really get chance to take in the view because you’ve got to have your full attention on the road. But going back up makes up for that.

I was happy to leave the busy Port that had a train of buses dropping people off every few minutes. There’s a few cafes, but that’s all there is down there.

Ryan sprinted off to try and beat his last time up there, but I wasn’t up for that. As long as my pedals were still turning I’d be alright…I hoped!

Making sure to take in the view, Ryan managed to come back down to meet me before I got to a corner where photographers were. Operation get photo for above the fireplace was go…ha!

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Now it was the last push to the top.

When the Orange Seller came back into view, it was a big relief. A 6 mile climb may not sound like much, but I’ve never ridden anything close to it before!

You’d think the blog post would stop there, but unfortunately my stubborness meant the ride didnt’t stop there. It didn’t stop going up either.

Puj Major, Mallorca

Back when we got off the coach at Hoposa Villaconcha, the driver joked if we were going up Puj Major, which is the biggest climb on the island. You can get to from by the Orange Seller. We were on the slightly easier side up and I asked Ryan how far it was to the top of it.

5 miles, which meant an extra 10 miles onto the ride.

The 5 back will be downhill I thought, so why not? I was most of the way there…

It turns out, the climb up Puj Major wasn’t bad in comparison to Sa Calobra. It wasn’t as steep, and there were plenty of views to take my attention away from my aching legs.

It was like cycling through a holiday brochure…ha! A glimmering blue lake, blue skies and mountains dominating the skyline.

Puj Major, Mallorca

This road was so quiet compared to the Sa Calobra. Only one or two cars and coaches, rather than the streams of them which were on Sa Calobra. For such a picturesque view, I was surprised so many tourists were letting it pass them by.

The higher you got the more of the valleys revealed themselves. With a tunnel marking the top, the end of the tunnel opened up to the top of Puj Major.

Puj Major, Mallorca

That’s one skill you should master before riding in Mallorca, removing your sunglasses whilst still riding. It’s not ideal stopping to take them off whilst riding uphill!

With the view from the top, riding up Puj Major from the other (and longer) side will definitely be on the list. However the other side is 14km long, so I’ll ork up to that…or just be as stubborn as this holiday and do it regardless.

Puj Major, Mallorca

Then there was the bonk.

My legs started feeling weird and I was struggling to ride straight.

I needed to stop.

Pulling over, luckily Ryan had brought more food than me. So I had an energy bar and a gel. I normally don’t go for the emergy bars/gels. I’d rather eat normal food that isn’t so packed with sugar.

I’d hit rock bottom though, which is no real surprise when the longest rides I’d ever done were 40 miles and this one turned into a 70 mile ride….

A quick stop at a petrol station where I debated between a Mars Bar and Twix (ironic when I’ve just been talking about sugar I know…desperate times ok?). We soon got back on the bikes, as the wind was picking up and I was starting to get cold. All I wanted right then was a warm shower. No jumping in the pool to cool off unfortunately, I needed the opposite!

Close to tea when we got back to the hotel, I jumped straight in the shower so we could be the first in line! I was so hungry and craving pasta…ha.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

It was all a bit surreal really. I’d always wanted a big day on my bike, but never been able to do more than 30 or 40 miles. I’d seen so many new places and didn’t realise how many miles had passed by. I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed riding in the hills over Winter too.

Do you still remember your first cycling holiday? Have you got any memories? Drop them below!

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Lighthouse of Cap de Formentor

On the first day in Puerto Pollenca, the manic handful of early mornings and jam packed days had caught up with me. So whilst Ryan went off on his bike, I went for a run along the seafront.

A fairly chilled first day however lead to a day on our bikes with Ryan showing me around Puerto Pollenca. To ‘ease’ me into cycling in Mallorca we made our way out to the Lighthouse in Formentor. A road that climbed out of Puerto Pollenca before meandering down and down to the lighthouse.

Unfortunately it was far from a ‘training’ ride for Ryan as I felt the need to take photos at every viewpoint. Everywhere was just so damn pretty! It was pretty obvious I was the newbie to Mallorca.

Blue sea. Blue skies. A lot of the time all you could hear were birds and your tyres on the road.

It was bliss.

The first time riding my Liv and on dry roads for a good few months, I was certainly hesitant to descend. I was following Ryan and then all of a sudden it was like I flicked a switcn. Literally at the snap of my fingers my nerves went.

I’ve never ridden corners like it.

No potholes either, which was a definite bonus!

At the Lighthouse we didn’t actually stay that long. It was getting pretty busy and I didnt fancy getting cafe legs 15 mile in. We had a lot of hills to go back up…ha! Luckily our 30 mile loop could take us back along the seafront in Puerto Pollenca to Tollo’s. A cafe extremely popular with cyclists thanks to it being full of Bradley Wiggins memrobilia. With Nacho’s and coffee ordered we could of happily sat there in the sun all afternoon.

Dragging ourselves away from the sun, I ended up doing a session in the pool whilst Ryan went to do hill reps…you know the normal things you do on a holiday…!

I don’t think I could have anything but an active holiday to be honest. Training and then sitting by the pool in the afternoon seems to be a winning combination for me.

Got any traditions or habits you do on holiday? Got memories from routes you’ve ridden round Mallorca. Feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca Cycling Holiday

Over the past few weeks I got to a point where some time off was long overdue. My weekly routine was feeling monotonous and I craved being in the sun so bad. The result? Me and Ryan booked a holiday a week before flying and had the most amazing few days away.

Mallorca

Exploring Puerto Pollenca, Mallorca

The last time I went abroad was something like 2010, so it was a mad rush to figure out what I needed to take with me. The mad rush put aside, we were checking in at the airport on our way to the cycling mecca of Mallorca.

Puerto Pollenca Beach, Mallorca

Puerto Pollenca Beach, Mallorca

Sun, smooth roads and beaches were all this girl needed to switch off for a few days.

After the nerves of hoping my bike got there ok, the first time I’d be riding my Liv this year was on the lush roads around the island of Mallorca.

A hotel with a big presence of triathletes, I could even jump in the heated training pool or go for a run if Ryan wanted to do a crazy training ride.

Hoposa Villaconcha Training Pool

Hoposa Villaconcha Training Pool

We were staying in Hoposa Villaconcha in Puerto Pollenca and I was so happy to be so close to the beach. A short walk and the golden expanse of sand revealed itself with cafe’s and their bike stands lining the sea front. I’ve never seen somewhere with such a focus on cycling. There were families that had hired bikes mixed in with seasoned roadies going on mega rides into the mountains. Hills aren’t really a thing in Mallorca, they’re definitely mountains.

We managed to fit so much in to the few days we were there, I’m going to split in all into a few blog posts rather than one HUGE one! So look out for what happened when we tackled:

  • The Lighthouse of Formentor
Formentor, Mallorca

Formentor, Mallorca

  • Sa Calobra
Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

  • Walking Puerto Pollensa to Cala Boquer
Cala Boquer, Mallorca

Cala Boquer, Mallorca

So I’ll be posting more about each day, so keep an eye out on my Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!

Are you off on a cycling holiday this year? Mountain bike or road, leave your favourite destinations below!

#GirlsAtLlandegla

Well I wasn’t expecting Narnia when we started riding at Llandegla this morning!

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Phil Bulkeley Photography

After setting up in the café at Llandegla we finally got on the trails. We had a late start as not everyone turned up that I was expecting. I can’t thank the girls enough for being so patient! I just didn’t want anyone left behind!

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Phil Bulkeley Photography

We set off up the climb and as soon as we got out of the trees the ground was covered in thick snow. I’d never ridden in the snow before, so it was definitely a learning curve for me. Going across slightly off camber bits and thinking in my head ‘it’s just slippery mud’.

The group went ahead and did the red and I was with Gwen and Heledd on the blue. We got to the top of the blue and much preferred the idea of the blue than the red as its more covered. As much as I wanted to go on the red with Heledd, we actually had a really fun time on the blue! There were some slushy sections we could have fun on, then clear sections we could go fast on. It was a good combo.

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Phil Bulkeley Photography

Manon and the rest of the crew went on the red. Some wanted to try the black, but thought it was best to stay together.

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Llandegla Forest, Phil Bulkeley Photography

Following riding the trail it was a mad dash to get changed, get warm and get fed. Just to get feeling in our toes again! It was great to chat to more to the girls and how they found riding in the snow.

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Llandegla Forest, Phil Bulkeley Photgraphy

All full up, half 1 came and we started the talk about mountain biking and women participating particularly. We brought up a few interesting topics. We started on how mountain biking could become a more desirable sport to take part in. We all get directed to sports like netball, so what can we do to highlight it the potential next generation of mountain bikers.

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One Planet Adventure Llandegla, Phil Bulkeley Photography

Organising group rides was a solution, as girls riding on their own isn’t likely to happen if their venturing out for the first time. With social media being a big part of the younger generation these days, this was also brought up. More Breeze rides were also a good way of encouraging newbies to the sport, so they can find people to go out with. It’s always easier to stick at something when you’ve got someone to do it with right?

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Manon & Ffion, Phil Bulkeley Photography

Another good topic was independence on the trails with the likes of first aid and bike mechanics. We talked about what would help female cyclists give bike maintenance a go. The ability to be able to do bike maintenance would maybe open up the opportunities for mountain bikers in general really to ride that little bit further, and maybe away from trail centres.

We also brought up the ‘all out’ approach to mountain biking and the pressures to do the most difficult trails, or only riding difficult trails. I know I’ve certainly realised I don’t need to be doing difficult riding all of the time, as long as I’m out on my bike does it really matter? I definitely need to venture a bit further afield on my bike, but I shouldn’t feel pressured to. I ride now because I want to, not because I have to. I do other outdoor sports now too and enjoy them just as much.

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Phil Bulkeley Photography

After all that was said I was happy everyone went away with a smile on their face, even if the weather was atrocious. It was certainly a different day on the bike, but I enjoyed it immensely at the same time.

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Before we entered Narnia! One Planet Adventure, Llandegla

I’m hoping to keep the social rides going really. Maybe Becky can show us round some more natural trails whilst we learn to map read…

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Thank you to these lovely girls for joining the talk!

Manon also mentioned the second Monday of every month being ladies night at Rampworx in South Wales, so hopefully a group can make a trip down there and try that too.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped today and the run up to the event. Especially One Planet Adventure for being so accommodating. I’m so glad everyone enjoyed it and we managed to raise £276.55 for Help for Heroes.

Head to ‘Lucy’s Life and Bikes‘ on Facebook for more of the photos!