What to do on your Bike this Autumn

What to do on your Bike this Autumn

The leaves are starting to fall, but we’ve had one crazy Summer in the UK. With a summer of holidays and racing, you can get to the Autumn and be at a loose end on what to do on your bike. What do you train for now all the big events in the diary are done?

We’re a tough bunch in the UK, so racing or riding doesn’t necessarily stop when the seasons start to get colder.

  1. Hill Climb

One of the oldest traditions in the British Cycling calendar, you’ll find hill climbs taking place up road climbs all around the country.

2017 Female National Hill Climb Champion, Joscelin Lowden, shares why she loves the discipline so much:

“I think it’s the atmosphere that makes them fun. All the old timers out with their bells on the side of the road shouts and the way you get a random bloke in a mankini running up the hill. The crowds can make the event and it’s usually a really fun day out. A few minutes of pain for a good return on entertainment!”
– Joscelin Lowden

If you’re nervous about giving hill climbs a go…look at it simply. All you’ve got to do is get to the top of a hill as quickly as you can. Don’t worry about everyone else, just race yourself. Despite hill climbs looking fairly short, I’d recommend a warm up so you can give it your best shot!

Why not come to the Wrexham Road Club’s hill climb up the Horseshoe Pass on the 7th October? There’s the great Ponderosa cafe at the top, so why not come and join me race to the top for cake?!?

  1. Cyclocross

#crossiscoming is definitely starting to pop up on my Instagram feed more, but what does it even mean? If you see someone on a bike with drop bars but knobbly tyres, you’ll probably be looking at a cyclocross bike. That’s according to 10 x National Cyclocross Champion, Helen Wyman anyway…

“It’s off road on a road bike with bobbly tyres. You race for roughly 50 minutes on a short circuit where you do lots of laps. There are plenty of obstacles and you regularly have to jump off and carry your bike. It’s over every kind of off-road terrain and is the most fun you can have on a bike in my opinion!”
– Helen Wyman

  1. Club Ride

You might have been going out on club rides throughout the summer, but now you haven’t got to try and organise them around people’s holidays, why not organise/tag along to a club ride this Autumn? You’ll ride roads you’ve never ridden before and find little gems in terms of cafe’s!

Have you tried a hill climb, cyclocross or club ride? What do you do on your bike over Autumn? Is it to early to ditch the shorts and opt for cycling leggings? Let me know in the comments below!

Cyced: Strava Miles to Cycling Art

In a world where remembering a holiday or long ride is posting a quick snap on Instagram, it can be hard to find something original to remind you of good times. When Ryan competed in the CiCLE Classic to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, I turned to Cyced so he could remember the 100+ mile race.

Set up by Angus King, I asked him a few question to see how Cyced came about.

What is Cyced?

Cyced turns your cycling data into bespoke artwork. We believe your greatest achievements deserve to be framed and not just tucked away within an app. They hold stories and memories that you’ll never forget!

How did it all begin?

I fell in love with cycling after cycling a rusty mountain bike in the southern Spanish valleys. I jumped straight into my university cycling club 3 years ago, and started blogging about it under the name Cyced. Soon after, I realised that cycling information was fragmented and created cycling hubs that bought together key information for new cyclists and those new to an area; including the best local cycling clubs, cycling routes and cycling shops! That was a huge success amassing thousands of visitors per month to the website. We really cherish every second we have on the bike and wanted to bring our cycles into the home; to share stories and show friends and guests – that’s where the cycling artwork came in.

Have you always been creative?

I have a background in marketing and a passion for entrepreneurship – always tinkering away at creating websites, videos, blogs and the sort. I then got the opportunity to work at British Cycling, and currently have the pleasure of working in the industry with some amazing people, and bringing people’s greatest cycling achievements to life via Cyced. I’m very fortunate for that.

What’s next for Cyced?

We’re in the process of growing our hubs to span Manchester and Plymouth – these will be released this month! We are also looking at extending our cycling artwork catalogue to allow more customisation and varying colour palettes. We’re very catering to specific requests and have worked with our customers to get them the artwork of their dreams!

Why not contact Cyced and see if they can help you frame your favourite rides? What a conversation starter when friends come round for coffee!

Race Report: #GirlsAtMarshTracks

With a rapid turnaround #GirlsAtMarshTracks took over the closed cycling circuit in Rhyl. Quiet for entries online Lwsi and Lauren took to the track in the Under 16 categories and were pushing hard on the pedals right to the chequered flag.

Then it was time for the busiest race of the day for the U12, U10 and U8. 13 girls took to the track and for many it was their first time. They raced round the shorter version of Marsh Tracks and were getting cheered on by their parents at the side of the track. Girls from Hafren CC and North Cheshire Clarion has a strong presence at the race and definitely represented their clubs well. Many keen to learn more about road racing and tactics used by the pro’s!

North Cheshire Clarion took the top spots in the U10 and 12, but were beaten to the podium in the under 8 category by Hafren CC rider Isobel.

All of the girls did remarkably well and all got round to the chequered flag. I couldn’t be more impressed by them all. They all kept pushing on right to the finish line.

Come half 12 it was time for the senior races to hit the track, with the first being the E123 race. A field of four, it ended up being a photo finish to see if Emily or Jo got the coveted first place. Emily pipped Jo to first by a lunge for the line.

The other two riders in the E123 race actually had MTB XC backgrounds, which is how they gained their 3rd cat licences. Polar opposite to what their use to in the forests, they both rode really strong races.

When the 4th Cat race lined up on the track, we had a mix of riders wanting to gain points for their 3rd Cat licence and complete beginners. Catrin rode a strong race, even for her first Crit race, but just got beaten to first place by Leonie. Again, that had to be decided on photos taken at the finish line!

The biggest part of #GirlsAtMarshTracks for me was seeing girls race for the first time and giving it a go. I think it can be so daunting turning up to a race sometimes, that people listen to the voices in their heads that say they’re not good enough. You won’t be great from the offset. I’ve found this year that racing is just one big learning curve. But I’m hoping events like #GirlsAtMarshTracks break the barrier even if women (and girls!) want to try racing even just the once. They can say they raced and stepped out of their comfort zone.

The most prominent memory will be the smiles on the faces of those in the youth races. That’s what I wanted to do the event for also. To give the opportunity for the youth girls to have the track to themselves. Normally thrown in the mix with the boys, they often end up near the back, but for this race the Under 12’s (and Lottie from the U10 believe it or not!) were at the front. Seeing young girls so passionate about the sport and racing was great to see, especially the friendships they’d formed in their clubs. You can’t go wrong with having friends you can share a sport with.

The first race I’ve ever organised, it was a big learning curve for me too. Even one of the Hafren CC Dad’s was showing me how to do a gear check for the youth riders! I’ve learnt a lot and hopefully I can take it to the next race I organise, which I’m hoping to be next Spring.

I hope all of the riders have a good Winter, whatever training they get up to. If you’d like to hear direct about the future races, then drop me an email and I’ll email any information about dates etc as it becomes available. I really hope I can grow the events next year, especially with how many new racers came to the track.

Maybe a British Cycling race licence will be on your Christmas lists this year!

If you have any questions about the event, or about getting into racing in general. Feel free to drop me a message.

A massive thank you to everyone who helped on the day, especially to Jasmine for coming to be the Commissaire for the race. She definitely had a busy day working out positions for the U8, U10 and U12 race!

Coryn Rivera: Why You Should Try Racing

In the hope of inspiring girls to take the jump and enter the youth categories of #GirlsAtMarshTracks, I’m going to introduce this mini series of interviews with professional female cyclists and quiz them on how they started cycling and racing. I’ll hopefully carry this on after #GirlsAtMarshTracks too. Fingers crossed they inspire you whatever age you are.

The first inspiring interview comes from across the pond with American cyclist Coryn Rivera. Riding for Team Sunweb, she took the overall at this year’s OVO Women’s Tour of Britain. She also found victory on American soil by becoming the current US National Champion.

But professional cyclists have all got to have started somewhere, and for Coryn it was at 9 years old as a result of growing up with a Dad who rode many different types of bikes, including downhill bikes.

Where did cycling all start for you?

I think I was 3 or 4 when I started on a purple Mongoose with training wheels. On a summer camping trip when I was 4, my dad took the training wheels off. In classic Wally(my dad) fashion, he was teaching me on a gravel road! I fell a couple times of course but kept getting back up until I could do it on my own. It was hard but then once I got back on the pavement and sidewalk, it was a breeze!

With your Dad being a downhiller, how did you end up road cycling? Did you race any other disciplines growing up?

He got hurt a year after he won the Amateur Cup in Big Bear, CA and he eventually started riding road to stay fit. He got a tandem with my mom and once my legs grew long enough he put me on the back of the tandem as well. After I got my own road bike and started racing, I found track cycling soon after. Then a year or so later when I was 13, I started cyclocross and did a little bit of mountain bike racing. But I didn’t go full into mountain bike racing until I was in college.

Was sport big at school, was that where your competitive edge came from? Were you one of few girls in your area who raced/cycled, or was it popular in school?

Sport was really big at school and just for me and my family. I think my real competitive edge came from my family and my urge to always do well at whatever I did. I was definitely one of the few girls in my area who raced a bike. Cycling is not super popular at American schools. In high school, I was at a school where ball sports were #1. I attended Mater Dei who are well known for their football team as well as baseball…not a lot of people understood my tanlines or cycling.

If you were the only girl who raced/cycled, did people at school understand the level you were racing at?

Not at all. I had one friend in high school who raced BMX, but other than that most of my friends had no idea. It was definitely more of a family thing and once I started racing, it was the other juniors who became my close friends and obviously understood cycling.

Cycling getting serious at such a young age, was it important for you to still go out on rides that weren’t training rides? Did your Dad even take you out on the mountain bike trails for a change of scenery.

It all started out as joining my family and my parents friend for weekend group rides from home. For sure every now and then we would hop out on the trails on the mountain bike to change it up a bit. I still do it to this day.

What were the racing fields like growing up, did you find it hard to find women’s races? Or even women to ride and train with?

Now that I look back at it, I was really lucky to grow up in Southern California local racing when I did. The fields were super competitive and deep. I grew up racing with girls like Alexis and Kendall Ryan who still race to this day on their respective World Tour Teams. Then we would race against local pros who were on teams doing bigger races. Teams like Saturn, T-Mobile, and Lipton. Locally to train with, there were not very many in my area. I would do a lot of local weekend group rides like Food Park and Como Street with the local male pros.

If you could speak to your 9 year old self now, what advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to not be too serious. But it was always my nature to never not do well. I always pushed myself to be better, so I don’t think that would have changed much!

For any young girls reading the interview, what would you tell them if they’re unsure about trying cycling as a sport, or racing?

The first step is to always try. You will never know your potential until you try. And if you fail, keep trying. If you like it enough, you will get where you want to be. But most important is to have fun with what you do!

So what are you waiting for? Get entering…

British Cycling Event Page

#GirlsAtMarshTracks Blog Post

I can’t thank Coryn enough for sqeezing answering these questions in to her busy race schedule!

Photo’s taken from Coryn’s social media pages!

Tactical Numpty or Bad Luck?

The past two weekends have seen me racing, which I’ve not done anywhere near enough of this year. The first weekend was Welsh Road Champs, but in hindsight I should have tried the TT instead. This weekend was a crit race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit.

I probably should have written about Welsh Champs sooner, but I come away from it slightly embarrassed if I’m honest. I went down with Ryan the day before as he was doing the TT too. Around the HQ I was surrounded by girls much stronger than me and I started to wonder what I was letting myself in for. Some might not be staying around for the road race the following day, but I still felt I was in a little too deep.

Phil Bulkeley Photograhpy

I entered Welsh Road Champs thinking we’d be going round the course on our own. Getting to the start line I found out we were starting with the Veteran men. Needless to say I got dropped 5 miles in…

But I still can’t work out if it was bad luck or me just being a tactical numpty.

Had I just sat behind the wrong people, or was I just not fit enough to be in the race?

When the race convoy passed and a number of women dropped off the back of the field, I couldn’t work out if the race convoy passing meant we weren’t in the race anymore.

I ended up riding round on my own for a lap at a pace I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at before. I wasn’t sure if I could still get to the finish line and place, or if once passed by the broom wagon that was it.

Long story short, I bailed after one lap as I still didn’t have a clue if I was suppose to still be on the course or not. So I finished with a big fat DNF.

When I went to Welsh Champs to at least finish, that was a bit gutting.

To get me out of my grump, Ryan found a race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. 16 laps in a field of 20 women.

Something I didn’t do for Welsh Champs was warm up, so I made sure to chuck the turbo in the car for Darley Moor. I may have only loosened my legs for 10 minutes, but it definitely made a difference.

My headphones and turbo just get me in the right mindset for racing.

Whatever race I go to now, I need to make sure I’m armed with my turbo to warm up. I could use rollers…but I definitely haven’t mastered them yet! Maybe I should work on that over winter!

The field was strong whilst we were on the track and I was just hoping I could stay on the back of the group!

A far cry from what I ended up doing at Pimbo a few weeks ago ha!

After getting too carried away in the corners and seeing how far I could lean my bike over, we were soon on the finish straight in a bunch sprint.

I still don’t know what position I finished, but I finished…which was an improvement on Welsh Champs.

I even finished the weekend with a loop I made up as I went along, which ended up being a hilly ride to start with, then levelled out a bit. I felt weirdly good on the bike.

How have you got over races you’ve performed badly at?

#GirlsAtMarshTracks – What You Need To Know

If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know the next event I’m organising is #GirlsAtMarahTracks. A day of crit racing for women at the North Wales’ closed cycling circuit, Marsh Tracks in Rhyl.

I’ve not been road racing (or road cycling!) long, but it’s clear to see that women’s road races are hard to come by, which can be understandable when they’re not always the easiest of races to fill to make them viable to run. But I’m taking the jump and doing a full day of women’s racing anyway!

For anyone new to road or crit racing, what does this all mean?!?

First off…Criterium Racing,

More commonly known as ‘crit racing’, this is essentially closed circuit racing, whether that be on closed roads or closed circuit. You race for a certain amount of time, then so many laps after that. For example, the 4th Category race is racing for 40 minutes plus 5 laps. So as soon as you reach 40 minutes you know you’ve got 5 laps left! You’ll know you’ve got to the 40 minute mark as a board will appear at the finish line counting down from 5 until the last lap is indicated by a bell!

But what do all the race categories mean?

I’m not going to lie, the race categories alone can be enough to put you off giving racing a go! The senior women’s races are either the E/1/2/3 or the 4th Cat.

E/1/2/3

How road racing works with British Cycling is you buy a licence and depending on where you come in race you can get points, eg you win a race and get 10 points. Over the course of the year these points can build up and a certain amount of points will mean you move up at category. For example, I’ve been chasing 12 points this year to go from 4th Category to 3rd Category. I’m nowhere near, but you get the picture!

To put it all into context, I’m a 4th Category rider and I’ve just started road racing. The women racing in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour are in the Elite category, so ‘E’.

4th Category

If you’re new to racing then the 4th Category race is the one for you! You can enter with a day licence and give racing a go! 4th Cat is also for those chasing those 12 points to get to bumped up to 3rd Category if you already have a British Cycling race licence.

So, how do you go about entering the 4th Cat race if you don’t have a British Cycling race licence? To put it simply, you need to enter on the day by paying for the entry to the race and for a day licence.

Day Licence Fees

The 4th Cat race is a Regional C+ categorised race. If you’re a:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £10.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £5.

Obviously if you have a British Cycling race licence you won’t need a day licence, you just need to check what race category you are and enter the correct race accordingly.

For Junior and Youth riders it works slightly differently. If you’re child is under the age of 16 they will be a Youth rider and therefore a day licence will only cost £1.50.

Over the age of 16 will class them as a Junior rider and they can race in the 4th Category race with a day licence. These will follow the same guidelines as the adult prices, but be half the price. So:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £5.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £2.50.

You won’t be able to sign up online if you need a day licence, so just drop me a message if you’re planning on racing so I can get an idea on numbers! Drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com.

What bike can you ride?

For various safety reasons, British Cycling stipulate what bikes can and can’t be used in road and circuit racing. For the senior races, so 4th Cat and E/1/2/3, a drop-bar road bike will only be allowed to be ridden in the races. Working gears and brakes are a must too! Don’t forget to check the tyre pressures, high tyre pressures make pedallig so much easier!

A drop bar road bike looks something like this…

These rules apply for the Under 16 and Under 14 races also, but allow cyclocross bikes to. Drop bars are a necessity though.

When it comes to the Under 12’s, 10’s and 8’s, British Cycling allow any type of bike to make it easier for younger riders to have a go! I must say these bikes have obviously got to have working brakes and be in good working order. Again, for safety during the races.

What category will my child race in?

Have a look at the details below,

Under 16 if born in 2002 or 2003

Under 14 if born 2004 or 2005

Under 12 if born 2006 or 2007

Under 10 if born 2008 or 2009

Under 8 if born 2010 onwards

The obvious need for the Under 8 category is that your child can confidently ride a bike. British Cycling also stipulate gearing restrictions to protect young riders from using big gears that could be harmful to them. (ie too strenuous!) If you have any queries on gearing restriction or if your child can race, have a read of this document by following the link, or contact British Cycling via the details in this link:

Youth Gear Restrictions: A Guide for Riders and Parents

Facilities

From racing various cycling disciplines, I know facilities at cycling races can sometimes be an issue, so I just wanted to highlight Marsh Tracks has toilets and changing facilities.

For more information about #GirlsAtMarshTracks keep monitoring my social media pages and website for more blog posts! Thank you to everyone who has helped with the event so far, especially Cyced for designing the poster! You’ll be able to find out more about Cyced with a blog post that will be posted in the next few days.

Cyced: Where rides become cycling art

I’m also working with Andy from SDS Graphics on some stickers you’ll be able to take home with you! SDS Graphics have been supplying vinyl graphics and designs in the motorsport industry for 25 years. His vinyl graphics can be seen on Formula 1 cars, British Touring Cars and many others. So you’ll have F1 standard stickers you can put on your bike, to remember that time you took part in a day full of women’s crit racing.

I’ll drop some other useful links below, but if you feel like you can’t keep up to date on social media with the event drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com and I’ll email you any updates!

Facebook Event Page

British Cycling Event Page (you can enter via this link!)

Marsh Tracks Website

If you’re a company who fancies getting involved with the event, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Silverstone Classic Photo Epic

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If you follow me over on Instagram you’ll know I spent last weekend at the Silverstone Classic, which attracted the crowds to watch the cars of years gone by return to the track. I spent the weekend around the Volvo S40 which Rickard Rydell had come from Sweden to drive again.

I was forever behind the lens of my camera like always, so got quite a few pictures over the weekend. A weekend that saw original mechanics reunited with the driver they use to spanner check for, whilst current mechanics kept the car running in tip top condition.

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A team put together by Jason Minshaw it was all hands on deck to make sure the car got to where it needed to be over the weekend.

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With unpredictable weather, a few wheel changes took place as well as alterations to the tracking and gearbox over the weekend.

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Qualifying on Friday turned out to be quite eventful with some cars facing issues that lead them to retire from the weekend.

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Luckily the Volvo didn’t suffer such issues and Rickard placed the car in pole position for the race the following day.

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Celebrating 60 years of the BTCC, the JET Super Touring Car Trophy was a popular collection of races over the weekend.

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With plenty of fans coming to meet Rickard when he wasn’t driving the Volvo.

In between its time on the track, the Volvo was checked and adjusted following feedback from Rickard.

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Despite biblical downpours at one point over the weekend, the heatwave meant hydration was key before and after jumping in the car.

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The cars waited by garages 1 and 2 to get to the pit lane and out to the track.

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Rickard’s biggest competitor over the weekend, James Dodd, who was driving the Honda Accord.

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Despite the multiple position changes on track making it impossible to predict who would come out on top, Rickard and James showed impeccable sportsmanship off the track.

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James Dodd pipped Rickard to the top spot of the podium, to which Rickard responded in good spirit “if it was my car he wouldn’t have got past”.

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I was possible too young to remember these cars racing in their day, but I surprisingly still recognised some of the liveries thanks to the countless motorsport books on the bookshelf and not a BTCC race missed on the TV.

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Bjorn and Daniel flew from Sweden to help with the car over the weekend.

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With a few season back racing, the hype around the Volvo S40 was even greater with Rydell back in the driver’s seat.

Head over to the full album of photos by clicking here.

For more on what Rickard Rydell thought of the weekend, you can also read this article on his website.

Well that escalated quickly…

What the HELL just happened?

Rolling out of bed at 8am this morning I was unsure whether to race or not. A road race last Sunday and two time trials this week…I wasn’t exactly sure my legs would have anything left. Especially when those races haven’t exactly gone to plan.

I also felt guilty for dragging Ryan along because the men’s race was a 3/4 and he’s a 2nd cat now.

But my quest for license points needed to continue. I wasn’t going to get points if I wasn’t racing.

Getting to sign on for 11am, it was another lunch time race but this time organised by Croston Velo.

It was hot…obviously…and I was shaking with nerves so much on the start line I struggled to clip in when the start whistle went.

Off we went, a field of around 20 girls were making their way around the 2ish miles loop. 38 miles ahead…it was going to be a tough one.

Being my second road race, I just sat on the back. The massive faux pas that it is, I just wanted to finish really after dropping off the bunch last week. Just not getting dropped would have been an improvement!

The more the bunch eased off I’d end up rolling on the outside of the bunch to too the front. Girls tried to break away or tire the group out, but for most of the race the bunch stuck together.

I was at the back because I was only at the race to gain experience. Road tactics are all new to me, so I just wanted to watch really and see what the norm is in a road race. I’m use to racing through forests on Singletrack after all…

I’m not sure at what exact point in the race it was, but one girl had managed to break away. So I pushed to get on the front of the bunch to try and pull the group back across so we were racing as a full bunch.

So there I am munching my pedals…I had been for a while…only to look back and notice the group wasn’t behind me. I’d somehow managed to break away…by accident!

The group were reluctant to pull her back and my ego was not on for dropping back to the group with its tails between its legs. I was now committed to bridging across whether I liked it or not.

Catching up to her was SO hard. I’m not even exaggerating. It was like a max effort sprint for what seemed like for ever! I kept looking at my heart rate being 180+ BPM…I had no idea if I could hold this.

When I finally got across I wanted to work with her, but my legs just didn’t have anything left. So thankfully she let me get my breath back and then we got into some sort of rhythm. I had no idea what was a good stint on the front, so I let her lead and move behind me when she wanted to. I did the best I could to keep the bunch behind us.

With one lap to go we got told the bunch were only 12 seconds behind us. We thought about waiting for them with how hard it was to keep them at bay, but we’d come this far we may as well give it a go and see where it gets us.

So we pushed….hard. I thought I’d dig deep last week after I got dropped, but oh no….this was a whole new level of deep I’ve never been to before…

My head was that mushed by this point I couldn’t even remember where the finish straight was.

When I got my bearings again we we on the finish straight and I could see number 18 looking at me to see if I was going to sprint.

I just couldn’t!

And stupidly I forgot he bunch were likely to sprint too. So number 18 went to take the win but I lost second place to the bunch. But somehow managed to hold top 10 with 9th…provisionally!

Thank you to Croston Velo for putting on such a good race. The iced water at the end helped no end. Thanks to all the girls that were racing too, it was a pretty epic afternoon!

Back to Racing

Back to Racing

My first road race…where do I start?

The fact I got to the start line at all?

Almost losing the nut for the end of my axle?

Or, the fact I completely miscalculated the amount of laps that were left?

On the morning of the race I was a mess. I genuinely thought about just not racing at all. Why? The fear of getting dropped. In Welsh Crit Champs last year the group almost split in two. The faster girls were way ahead. I come to Pimbo to race…not get dropped again…ha!

I even said to Ryan who was with me on the side of the road at the start line, “I don’t even want to race anymore”.

I was dreading the start gun and the girls just disappearing up the road.

But the start gun went and I managed to hold on to the bunch.

Going round was a learning curve. I was constantly waiting for some sort of attack off the quicker girls, but nothing really happened. Holding onto the back was tough at times, but I held up better than I thought I would…until I sped up a lap early than the finish lap.

I picked up my pace to try and get myself in a better position, only to see the others stay at the same pace. When I realised we had one last lap my legs had already blown up. Embarassment or just genuinely feeling gutted at what position I could have maybe got, I was so frustrated with myself.

But either way, it is my first road race out of the way.

Back to Racing

Racing in general isn’t going great for me to be honest. I decided to try and make it in time for the club time trial this week, only to get a few minutes in and my bike pump fell out of my pocket. My only option was to turn back and get it in case it was in the middle of the road. I had riders behind me coming so I didn’t want them and their expensive bikes to hit the deck because of me! Thankfully they let me restart and I could get the frustration out of my system…ha! I even smahsed my target time too.

So pray that I’ve got all of the bad luck out of the way???

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

It’s all well and good being the queen of planning a Bank Holiday weekend, but then me and Ryan tend to have our best days out which have been completely spontaneous.

Our spontaneity meant we found ourselves at the foot of Cadair Idris, which has quickly become one of our favourite places.

Walking up Cadair Idris

The sky was hazy but the sun still heated the exposed rocky steps that started the route up one of the many mountains within Snowdonia. Despite dripping in sweat I felt privileged to call Wales my home. Some walkers were coming down, their dogs eager to get to the shade of the trees and the river at the bottom. Some ascending, and like us, completely under-estimated the temperatures that would be present climbing such a steep mountain.

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Over a crest we’d find the never ending steps behind us and more of Cadair Idris revealing itself. All I wanted to do was quicken up the pace to find the lake I fell in love with a few years ago, despite not being able to swim in it yet. Our last time here was our first holiday together. Camping in Dolgellau, which is still one of my favourite holiday memories.

The pace not speeding up quite enough due to me being distracted by an army of Labradors that made me wish Jenson was with us, and a Westie loving life in his owner’s back pack watching the world go by. A previously adventurous dog, but his ageing legs meaning he can’t quite get up the mountains anymore. But you can’t leave him at home can you? He could still come out on the flat after all.

The lake finally came into view.

Blue. Clear. Still. And in the shadows of the crag that led to the top of Cadair Idris.

My body wanted nothing more but to jump in, but the desire to see what the view was like from the top was greater.

Walking up Cadair Idris

Our path got steeper once again, but we did pause every once in a while to take in the view. As much as we rush through our daily lives, we shouldn’t rush in places as beautiful as these.

Now the only thing that stood between us and where we would climb to was loose rocks. So naturally we had to take our time up these.

Coastguard at Cadair Idris

Walking Up Cadair Idris

Coastguard at Cadair IdrisWalking up Cadair Idris

Over a stile we joined families already at the top. Young kids battling with their curiosity to get close to the edge, but being scared to at the same time. Taking photos and making memories. It’s been a while since I’ve seen kids exploring the outdoors and being so happy about it. The parents had no phones, they were just spending time with their kids.

Walking up Cadair Idris

Looking down at the lake, I was eager to get in it so after some photos we made our way back down.

Photographing Cadair Idris

The lake side dotted with others fully immersed with being outdoors.

Skipping stones. Taking a quick dip before the cold water getting the better of them. Brothers trying to push each other in.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

I squeezed into my wetsuit that Ryan had been lugging around in his backpack. He pulled the zip together so I could get it around my shoulders. Then it was time to see if I could beat the demons that stopped me swimming here last time.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

Not confident in my ability (or lacking of) to swim and unsure how my body would react to the cold. A few years on after learning to swim, a Triathlon and a few open water swims around my belt, I was in a bit of a better position than last time.

But it was still a lake up a mountain. It was still going to be cold and I still didn’t think I was a strong swimmer.

So I didn’t get in straight away. Ryan got in before me.

I was looking at the water before me. The darker it got, the deeper it got. The water giving me shock every time it squeezed inside my wetsuit.

After a few dunks of my body in the water, I was finally started to get use to the water.

Ryan waited and let me build my confidence up on my own.

I suddenly found myself pushing off through water and I slowly moved through the water. The coldness of it making it exhilarating. The battles my body has when it gets cold, swimming in such cold water was massively out of my comfort zone.

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I only ventured so far before turning back, but each time I got a little bit further.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

All of a sudden I was getting lost in the beauty of seeing the lake from a different perspective. The crag looked bigger. And the sun catching the surface of the water to make it glisten, contrasting against the deep blue water. It was so quiet, yet my mind completely switched off.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

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My legs may have turned to jelly when it came to come out, but I had the biggest sense of relief. Despite the things I’ve done since, not being able to swim that day a few years ago stuck with me. I kind of knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I’d gone back to Llyn Cau up Cadair Idris.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

There were demons there I needed to conquer.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

Walking back down the mountain I was in the best mood I’d been in for a while. Already planning my birthday so I could come back and swim again.

Swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris