Autumn Cycling Must-Haves

Autumn Cycling Kit

Cycling at this time of year can be off-putting to say the least. Rain, wind and dark mornings aren’t exactly encouraging are they? On my recent ride of all weathers in Belgium I very nearly didn’t head out, but having good cycling kit with me pushed me out the door. I think having trust in your kit makes all the difference, which is why I’ve been having a look on the internet at what Autumn/Winter cycling kit is on offer.

  1. Castelli Perfetto RoS W Long Sleeve

Kicking my findings off is the Castelli Perfecto jacket, which I’ve actually tried and tested. If I’m completely honest I’m ‘borrowing’ Ryan’s, but I know Castelli don’t let the quality drop just because a product is for women. At £190 you’ll be please to hear you get some GORE-TEX technology for the price tag. On the front panels are made up of WINDSTOPPER and water-resistant material, but towards the back the material has more of a stretch and breathability. I’m particularly a fan of the dropped tail on the back of the jacket, which keeps more of your back covered when riding down water-logged country lanes.

2. dhb Classic Women’s Thermal Tights

With a warm jacket you’ll obviously need some cycling longs to go with it. I personally rides in some Castelli longs, but I thought for this post I’d look around a bit. If you’re active on Twitter you’ll find dhb is a brand that regularly pops up in kit recommendations. It doesn’t cost the earth, but still does the job. On the likes of Wiggle you find plenty of positive reviews on the brand and its products. Having a look around these Classic Women’s Thermal bib tights caught my eye as they help keep your torso warm too. Any extra warmth is always a bonus.

3. Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Glove

Sealskinz have been a market leader for as long as I can remember. They’re a logo I’ve seen around since the early days when I first started cycling (well MTB). The biggest benefit with these is the fact they’re waterproof and constructed with three layers for added warmth. I’m actually on the look out for some new gloves and I think these are high contenders.

4. Endura Pro SL Overshoes Black

When Ryan introduced me to overshoes a few years ago it was a revelation. Being a Raynaud’s sufferer the cold is certainly not my friend, but since using overshoes my toes stay toasty for longer. My recent Endura overshoes have been fab for a few years, but I was slightly heavy handed with a zip so have had to replace them. These are the closest thing I can find to them. Scottish brand Endura certainly know a thing or two about bad weather!

5. Castelli Fresca W Headband

Cold ears on a ride are never fun, so I normally go for one of two options being a Buff or thermal headband. Buff’s tend to speak for themselves. I’ve worn one since I was little hiking up Snowdon, but thermal headbands work rather well under a cycling helmet. When it’s ice cold you might opt for a Buff, but at this time of year I normally use a thermal headband. I was trying to keep the brands varied, but Castelli just do the thermal headbands so well. I hate it when mine’s in the wash and I can’t wear it. They’ve got some funky design this year too. You can even get a Fresca Jersey to match…I mean Christmas is coming up right?

6. Stolen Goat Women’s Mesh Base Layer

Just because it’s a base layer doesn’t mean it has to be plain. I think it’s just more of an excuse to be as exotic as you like and you can’t go wrong with polka dots. I’ve always seen Stolen Goat to be slightly ahead of the game when it comes to their designs and how colourful they are.

 

How I Ran Sub-4 Hour in my First Marathon

My London Marathon Training header

This time last year I was in full panic mode at how on earth I was going to run 26.2 miles around London in a time I was proud of. I don’t just ‘try’ things. If I start something I’m getting it done properly. London Marathon 2019 was no different.

By the title of my blog it’s pretty obvious I’m not a runner, so it was my first marathon as well as never having actually done a running event before. From so much cycling you’d maybe think I’d find swapping my bike for running shoes a breeze, but I quickly found out it was a whole different type of fitness. A good 3-4 hours on my bike could match a 2 hour run effort-wise. It was a steep learning curve that’s for sure. That steep learning curve also means this isn’t a blog post for seasoned club runners, just those who jumped in the deep end like me feeling like a rabbit in headlights.

I owe a lot of my training inspiration to Rachel Ann Cullen, who is the author of ‘Running for my Life’. Her story was amazing to read as a lot of my previous reading was from athletes like the Brownlee Brothers. My head was full of speed sets when in reality I just needed to get miles in my legs. Rachel’s gone on to do London multiple times now, so she’s certainly moved to the seasoned runner category!

So how did I accomplish a sub-4 hour London Marathon simply?

From the start of October when the ‘Congratulations’ magazine dropped through the letterbox I only had 7 months to go from cyclist to runner. After reading Rachel’s book I streamlined my training plan drastically and here’s a little example of how it went.

LM Blog

So rather than having weeks broken down into a strict training plan, I had simple milestones to reach before the big day. For me it was a training plan that was realistic with a job where I’m on my feet all day. I had injuries along the way, but I think if I’d tackled London with any more training I would have had a DNF or even a DNS.

After running the Half Marathon in 1:51 I had a rough idea of what I could run London in, which was under 4 hours. From then on it was just a case of continuing to up the miles and try and stick to around 8 and a half minute miling.

Lucys Marathon

For the 20 miler I clocked a time of 2:52.

Then smashed London in 3:57.

The point I’m trying to put across is that tackling London Marathon doesn’t need to be complicated. If you have a coach, then fab listen to them. If you still feel like a rabbit in headlights, then I have a few little rules to follow:

My LM Rules

Got your own tips and tricks for training for a marathon? Feel free to drop them below in a comment!

Want to read more about my London Marathon 2019 training? Then hear’s my training in blog posts:

Seasons of Change

Cycling

We’re certainly into off-season now aren’t we? The leaves are falling and hill climbs are happening up and down the country. A blog post on the Horseshoe Pass hill climb will be coming your way soon. I didn’t compete after my non-existent race season, but loved hearing how everyone’s race had gone. From the juveniles right up to the over 80’s! Hill climbs are certainly the most inclusive part of cycling as a sport.

With a break in the weather this weekend, I made the most of it and got out on my bike, which was a far cry from where I was a few months ago. My week went from bad to worse, but all I could think about was getting out on my bike on Saturday. There was a new cafe to visit, which obviously came with a new route to follow. Cheshire lanes with coffee and cake and sunshine in the sky to match.

Cycling in Cheshire

I could have got my Winter bike out,  but with the weather as it was I wasn’t quite ready to put my Liv away. I needed the feeling  of riding fast and it just doesn’t feel the same on my Winter bike. I collected all my bits and bobs together; I don’t know how, but I always manage to fill the pockets of my jacket/jersey pockets. My excuse is how small my cycling kit is…

It was the first time in a long time I felt comfortable out on my bike. I wanted to be out on it. The sunshine helped obviously, but I would just take each mile as it came whatever they entailed. With a few turns here and there I was lucky to have a route that avoided any long stretches on main roads. There’s less pressure. You can stop when you like (for Instagram of course), or ride as hard as you feel. Whatever my legs would allow me to do.

Cycling in Chesire

The roads were fairly quiet and 90% of the time I was passed by cars with plenty of rooms. Meeting Ryan at the cafe after he’d been out to walk the dog, we could chat about anything and everything whilst the pup slept. It seemed to be the start of a new tradition for us. The hole of not being able to ride together anymore seemed to be closing and we’d not even anticipated it.

It’s just a new part of our lives we’re slowly adjusting to I guess. It’s not perfect yet, but life never is really, even if it is hard to swallow. I joke about Instagram, but it’s so  important to remember Instagram will always be the best bits. The parts of life that made you smile enough to capture in a square on Instagram.

No 18 The Park Coffee Shop, WrenburyCafe Stop

Full of coffee and cake, I could make my way home. I was in my own little world with a clear head for once. Not focussing on everything that isn’t great right now. I started to feel a little more myself again. Attacking the hills and hammering the pedals. Just having fun out on my bike really.

Cycling in Cheshire

The internet has been full of Mental Health Awareness this week and it’s easy enough to get lost in it all. People saying how you should and shouldn’t deal with it. Life’s hard at times and it just seems to get worse the older you get. There’s more stuff you’ve got to  worry about. Stuff consumes your mind until you snap. I think sometimes you’ve just got to appreciate what you’ve got going on whether you think it’s affecting you or not. The reality is it probably is. Take a breath and watch a funny film. Go running in the rain. Put your phone down. Walk in the hills. Jump in a lake for a swim. You might have an endless to-do list, but you’ll feel a whole lot better tackling it if you can ease the weight  of the world on your shoulders.

Life’s not perfect.

Our body’s aren’t perfect.

But as long as we’re living the best life while we’re here, that’s the important thing right?

I haven’t felt like myself for a while, but hopefully I’m stepping in the right direction now.

Spa Six Hours 2019

Spa Six Hours 2019

There was a plan for this blog post to be how amazing Belgium is for cycling, but Belgium weather scuppered those plans a little bit. Especially weather around the Spa-Francochamps motorsport circuit. Weather can change at the click of your fingers. You can leave the paddock in a t-shirt, but get to the other side of the circuit needing a thick winter jacket and hood. Clouds just roll in and out like waves in the sea.

Spa-Francochamps

Off what people told me prior to my trip, my image of Belgium cycling was long roads that were fairly flat. Yet I don’t think that exactly goes for the part of Belgium I was in. Travelling through Belgium the wide expanse of crop fields quickly turned to rolling hills covered in trees. The track itself is known for being technical to drive. It’s certainly the most hilly motorsport circuit I’ve ever been to.

Spa Six Hours 2019

I’d love to be sat here saying that I got the chance to ride around it, but I was there to watch the Spa Six Hours race. One of the biggest races in the historic motor racing calendar, teams race for 6 hours requiring driver changes and two fuel stops. The best part about it I guess is going back to the roots of motorsport. There’s minimal fancy equipment. The cars have to be original. Feeling the vibrations through your feet as they come flying down the pit straight is sometimes enough to kick the old adrenaline into play. It’s all systems go in the pits for 6 hours providing drivers with lap times and directing them when to pit. There’s no radios here.

Spa Six Hours 2019

Whilst the 6-hour race was the main event, the weekend was packed with other races too. The alarm clock for each day would be a car engine warming up. And I’m not talking about sitting there early in the morning waiting for the ice to melt off your car, I’m talking full on jump out of your skin wake up call.

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One of the most memorable races for me was the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends Race, which was full of LMP1 and LMP2 cars. Essentially old Le Mans cars up until around the year 2012. Engines that echo through the forests surrounding the circuit and headlights that light up the sky like fireworks. After my brother and I had made our way up to one of the infamous corners, Pouhon, we could here the cars leaving the pits. It felt like we had the best seats in the house as we looked down on the pit straight and paddock area at the other end of the valley. We watched their headlights come around the circuit with the echoes getting louder as they came along the Kemmel straight. Suddenly they were in view, but quick enough it was back to watching they’re headlights break through the trees. It’s a spectacle I’m struggling to put into words if I’m honest, so hopefully I’ve done these amazing cars justice.

Spa Six Hours 2019

Spa Six Hours 2019

If you take anything away from this blog post, and you are a motorsport fan, I’d recommend going to the Spa 6 Hours endurance event. When the majority only watch the Spa 6 Hours, I’d really recommend heading out to watch the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends too. That spectacle topped Bonfire Night fireworks.

Spa Six Hours 2019DSC_8232Spa Six Hours 2019Spa Six Hours 2019

So I started this post talking about cycling didn’t I? Yet I’ve spent a most of it talking about cars…oops.

Not thinking the wet weather would pass anytime soon; I managed to get out on my bike on our first day in Belgium. The cars were out testing, so I thought it would be a good time to get out. I had no clue what the route had in store for me, but I forced myself to go out. It was probably quite stupid going out in such horrific weather on my own in a foreign county, but you’ve got to push the boundaries sometimes I guess.

Cycling in Belgium

I committed the cardinal sin of road by going out with a small rucksack, but it put me at ease that nothing could fall out of my pocket. I definitely wasn’t finding anything again if it did!

After some cyclocross-esque fire road riding, my route eventually turned to roads and landed me in the centre of Malmedy. After nearly turning back when the road became gravel, I’m glad I pushed myself on to get to Malmedy. Tall townhouses, a cobbled bridge bustling with flowers along it and a church steeple all came into view. I breathed a sigh of relief that I could hopefully complete the ride I set out to do now I was off the gravel roads.

Malmedy, Belgium

Climbing out of Malmedy I was soon on a climb that I later found out was 9 miles long. Granted it was not as steep as Sa Calobra, but enough to get the old legs burning. The road just kept meandering up and up.

Eventually I’m on a road that seems to never end. I look ahead and I can just see a pin straight road lined by trees that will probably get felled at some point. Winds blowing at me. Rain is somehow coming at me from the left. Then there’s the small drama of my Garmin going to sleep. I knew roughly where I was going, but I hadn’t seen a road sign for a really long time…

Eventually a junction came into view with a village I recognised. I was starting to think I was riding into the abyss.

I didn’t think I could have beaten the mental capacity to get round Welsh Champs when everything seemed to be against me that day. But somehow a 28 mile day came close to 50. I’d followed the route, but there was an 8-mile ride to the start point and back because of the paddock we were in. There was no cafe stop, just a Clif Bar. (Ok there was an insta photo to take in Malmedy obviously). Sitting writing this I still don’t know where it came from. I haven’t trained for months. But I’ve never been so glad to hear the rumble of engines as I got close to the circuit again.

Spa-Francochamps

I had to ring my kit to get rid of the excess water. There were puddles in the bottom of my shoes. There were points where I didn’t think I enjoyed it, but looking back it puts a smile on my face. I saw more of Belgium than I would have if I hadn’t taken my bike. There wasn’t much chance to take photos, just grey sky. It was just a day I dug deeper than I thought I could.

It was a random weekend, so I guess that makes for a bit of a random blog post. If you’re still reading this rather lengthy post, thanks for sticking with me. My first trip to Belgium has been and gone. Who knows if I’ll head back.

 

Amateur Photographer & Peaks Tour Sportive

Amateur Photographer

It’s so easy to get lost in a new place you’ve never visited before. Where you live you sort of get accustomed to what’s around you. You don’t notice the history and the stories there as much, but going somewhere new leaves the place open to your interpretation. Needless to say, whenever I visit somewhere new I’ll very quickly get lost in what’s around me, which normally involves me capturing it with a camera. Some say to experience moments rather than capture them to tell the story, but for a creative like myself that’s quite difficult to execute. Behind any photo I take there will normally be a story, regardless of whether that experience ends up on my blog or in a notebook.

Winnats Pass, Peak District

Heading to the Peak District I was very quickly taken aback by it all. The only way to describe it being large expanses of rolling hills. Granted you get this in Wales, but hills tend to be swapped for mountains so you normally have to walk quite a way to see the view. Any place will naturally have its good days and bad days, but I was definitely in the Peaks on a good day. The golden Autumnal light that makes me love this time of year.

Winnats Pass, Peak DistrictWinnats Pass, Peak District

After winning a competition I noticed Amateur Photographer were running, I found myself in Winnats Pass with camera equipment lent out by MPB waiting for cyclists to ascend the infamous Winnats Pass. A winding road that follows the valley making a climb for cyclists of 20% gradient at times. The sun bent its way around the hill tops casting a shadow on the route of the Peaks Tour Sportive, but it was the sun rays that made me want to take a photo.

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I had the opportunity to use a Canon EOS R camera body with a 24-105mm lens. My first time using a mirrorless camera, there were a few fancy features to get to grips with like the touch screen on the back. There was the simple fact I needed to get familiar with mirrorless too. I gave it my best shot and the photos in this blog post are the result.

The fact the camera was small and light made it easy to carry around all day, which was a stark difference to when I’d be on my feet all day at Weddings with heavy camera equipment. The Weddings were my first experience of using Canon, which is why I asked MPB if I could try a Canon camera. I’ve used Nikon for years, but loved the Canon’s I use to use. I thought I’d take to the Canon EOS R (and accompanying lens) like a duck to water, but I’ll be honest I’m not completely sold on it. The focus seems a little off and the photos just didn’t seem all that sharp. Now I hold my hands up, it might have just been the person operating it, but I can’t say I’ll be heading to the camera shop to get one. Not for cycling photography anyway.

Winners Pass, Derbyshire

When we’d finished on Winnats Pass we made our way to a quaint little village called Monyash, Derbyshire. With a church, pub and cafe it almost felt like you were on some sort of television set. The houses were quiet and everyone congregated outside the tiny Old Smithy Tearooms. I love going to these villages only accessible by country lanes that stretch out for miles purely because of the characters you meet there. Their way of life is different and its almost inspiring. It brings me back to every photo having a story. There will often be a reason I press the shutter.

Monyash, DerbyshireMonyash, Derbyshire

The dog below was curled up basking in the sun next to a bench on which sat two older men chatting about a sketch book in one of their hands. They were completely lost talking about painting techniques and it took them a while to notice I was even photographing their dog. Meanwhile, their dog couldn’t care less at what was going on around him. It’s just little moments like that you don’t forget. They keep these little hidden gems of the world stuck in your head wanting to go back and explore further.

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Easily distracted, a lot of the photos I took in Monyash weren’t actually of bikes like was intended. I wandered down public paths and through farmer’s field, just to see what I could find. I was naturally drawn to other dogs in the village two, one wanting to make sure his presence was known where as another was quite happy doing pirouette’s.

Monyash, Derbyshire

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I suppose I should actually talk about the sportive itself run by UK Cycling Events, which is named the Peaks Tour Sportive. From the name you can imagine it’s no easy challenge, especially when the cyclists were barely warmed up they were tackling Winnats Pass. If they weren’t warm before the climb, then they certainly would be after. Routes covering 50, 75 and 100 miles you had varying abilities tackling the route, but all in good spirit. It was certainly different from photographing criterium and road races.

So essentially I went to the Peak District with Amateur Photographer to use some fancy cameras equipment, but its the places I got to see I’ll remember the most and probably go back to. I met some amazing photographers on the day too who were great to chat to, some just as interested in cycling as I was.

 

Roads Less Ridden

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I did the typical Lucy thing this weekend where I got a ride into my head and I wasn’t going to settle until it was done. Luckily Ryan knew a more picturesque way to go than main roads, so after some plotting on Garmin Connect I was good to go. 

I was off to Llyn Brenig and that was that. Cambrian Photography were running an Optic’s Fair there so I could get a lift home with my Dad if needed. I just needed to get away from main roads and just ride my bike.

It was main roads really to Ruthin, but a sharp climb out of Ruthin and a sharp right onto a country lane meant I was quickly in the middle of nowhere. Lane after lane my mind was getting lost in the constant climbing. Normally I’d shy away from it, but I secretly liked the challenge. Feeling the burn and knowing there’s nowhere quite like North Wales to ride your bike. Lanes that go on for miles do you can completely get away from it. I guess it’s what cycling is about for me, you know? Where it can take me. Yes I’ve seen some pretty crazy places whilst racing, but this ride was something else. I had the map on my screen rather than what watts I was chucking out. I was just riding my bike. Not worrying about how quickly I was going up the hills, just laughing when the roads were close to disintegrating yet I was still getting up them. Getting attacked by pheasants in the meantime. I must have saw about 40 pheasants and I’m genuinely not over exaggerating. They were everywhere!

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Eventually I was on the hill tops making my way across the rolling Welsh hills with 360 degree views. I’d not seen another cyclist for about 15 miles. I couldn’t not stop to take photos with there being views for miles. At one point a group of painted lady butterflies flew off that were resting on the road. My mind was blown at the scenery around me at every corner. 

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Soon Clocaenog Forest came into view as well as the Wind Farm scattered throughout it. It always baffles my mind how big Wind Turbines are. My route had been so good up to now I was convinced the road would turn to gravel sooner or later, but the route just kept going and going. The 360 degree view was replaced by dense forest. It felt like I had the forest completely to myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Passing gravel roads which I’m pretty sure were used for Wales Rally GB, I soon needed to turn off right to head towards Llyn Brenig. I turned the corner and all of the sudden there was an arrow straight road lines by trees perfectly framing the view at the end of it. 

My legs were starting to fall victim to all the climbing and I was doing and the sharp descent meant there was more to come. I looked down at my hands were glistening from the sweat. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. All of a sudden I popped out on the main road near Llyn Alwen.

Relief. I’d made it with a massive smile on my face as well.

Racing is great and I enjoyed it last year. Those Pimbo races were crazy, but this year I just couldn’t get my head into it at all. Right now though, I’m finally loving riding my bike again and the amazing places it can take me. I may not have ridden home, but I can’t wait till I can just disappear on my for the day and see where it gets me.

Crit for C.R.Y. 2019 in memory of Alex Jones

With an abundance of emails during the week leading up to the day of racing at Marsh Tracks, ‘Crit for C.R.Y.’ had a good turnout despite clashing with events such as North West Crit Champs.

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

The day kicked off with the first ever National B race held at Marsh Tracks, Rhyl. An under-used track in my opinion. A wide, flowing circuit where racing is made interesting by the ever-changing wind direction. With 24 entries but 21 on the start line, the racing was thrown wide open when Swift Pro Carbon rider, Andy Turner, got called over to the Ryedale GP. With a big range of ability on the track, we just had to wait until the racing got under way to see who would come out on top.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

From the off Pro Vision Race Team rider, Ben Lloyd, made an aggressive start breaking away from the bunch. However, an unfortunate crash on lap 5 shattered the field meaning a group of 6 made up the leading bunch, including the Pro Vision Race Team Rider. Impressively two Junior riders, Chris Mann (Marsh Tracks Racing) and Thomas Mitchell (Birkenhead North End CC) held their own in the leading bunch with the likes of riders from Ribble Pro Cycling and Velo Runner.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

As the race went on it resulted in various bunch sprint across the line apart from race winner, Joseph Bowers. The Team Chronomaster rider attacked with just over 2 laps to go and wasn’t seen again by the bunch which brought him across the line in 1st. Following Bowers was a sprint between Grant Bigham (Velo Runner), Jack Rees (Ribble Pro Cycling) and Junior rider Thomas Mitchell. Bigham took 2nd followed by Rees taking 3rd.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Being the Alex Jones Memorial race, Alex’s parents came to present the trophies to the successful riders. An emotional day for them, but pass on their thanks to everyone who raced. The day brought back memories of the last time Alex raced at Marsh Tracks where he won the race after lapping the field on his own.

L09

With no entries for the women’s race, we waited for the 4th Cat Only Men’s race at 2pm. With 7 riders on the start line, Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club dominated the field with 4 riders competing one of which went on to take the win.

Wrexham rider, Wilf Goodfellow, hasn’t long got back from competing in the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon where he claimed 2nd in his age group. Coming to give criterium racing a go on a day license, Wilf wasted no time breaking away off the front and ended up lapping the field twice over.

L10

Behind Wilf it was a sprint finish between Kevin West of Hale Velo and Wrexham rider Alistair Brown. Alistair was nipped to the line by Kevin meaning Kevin took 2nd and Alistair took 3rd. The race ended with a sprint off the following bunch including Cardiac Athlete, Chris Bruney.

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Both races were watched closely by Commissaire, David Robson, who I’d like to say a big thank you to for taking time out of his weekend to commissaire the event. A big thank you to Velotik Racing Team for making it possible to run the event by being the promoting team and helping marshall the event. Thank you to Marsh Tracks for being so welcoming and helping us open/lock up the track.

The Bike Bar rider, Alex Harvey, was also a big help on the day stopping to check on one of the riders who hit the deck. Alex also closed up the circuit afterwards. So a big thank you to Alex Harvey too!

I hope all the injured riders from the E123 race heal up quickly. I hope you’re at the end of your season, so you can come back fighting fit next year.

Running the event was certainly tough at times. I was expecting Ryan to head off to get changed any minute and get his bike out of the van, despite it being almost a full season now without him racing. We’ve got a different link to Marsh Tracks now where Ryan is anxiously waiting to see how his athletes perform in the races. I’m not sure how much we’ll raise for Cardiac Risk in the Young, but I think we successfully raised awareness of athletes attending a local CRY heart screening. That’s the most important thing to us. There’s a few British Cycling fees and track hire to sort first, then I’ll confirm what was raised.

The news of Alex Jones hit us both hard with Ryan’s news still being so raw. I didn’t know Alex personally, but he was someone Ryan had raced against for years. It sort of hit home how serious heart conditions can be when we heard about him. We’ll start planning next year, so we can make sure he’s never forgotten.

Any photos from the day can be found HERE

RESULTS

Alex Jones Memorial E123

1. Joseph Bowers – Team Chronomaster

2.Grant Bigham – Velo Runner

3. Jack Rees – Ribble Pro Cycling

4th Cat Only Race

1. Benjamin Goodfellow – Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club

2. Kevin West – Hale Velo

3. Alistair Brown – Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club

 

Paths Less Trodden

Walking

Often when I’m out on my bike I’ll come across public footpaths that look interesting, but my road tyres mean I have to leave exploring them for another day. You only have to open an Ordnance Survey map to see where all of these footpaths are. The amount of people that use these footpaths is probably very little, depending on where they are obviously.

With a new addition to the family, and by new addition I mean the sort with four paws and a waggy tail, I’m starting to venture out a little bit more. Although I think I’m going to invest in some more Ordnance Survey maps because one of this week’s walk didn’t exactly go to plan!

I suppose the thing that is easy to forget is because they’re not regularly used some way-marked routes might be a little over-grown…so when you approach said stile in shorts and t-shirt. I don’t think there’s much chance of you getting past thanks to a large amount of nettles!

The local people were pleasant. I didn’t expect such a happy reception from a farmer when I was stood there trying to figure out where to go next. Maybe it was the fact he’d already seen me close a gate behind me, but he pointed me in the right direction and off we went.

I may not have got very far, but I guess I still saw a part of the world I’d not seen before. I came away with a nettle sting or two, but I’d given the route a go. A field full of cattle was what eventually turned me around to re-trace my steps. All I could picture was me running through a field clutching a puppy trying to outrun grumpy heifers. I’d rather not thanks…

So my wander out might not have been the most successful, but I didn’t get lost at least. I have a tired pup with fluffy ears after a bath, so all is good I think. Maybe I’ll stick to exploring the forests next time rather than cow fields!

Bringing Back Your Childhood Memories

Bringing Back Your Childhood MemoriesLike cycling, swimming is one of those things you do as a child. Whether that was jumping in a river in the summer, or having it forced upon you in P.E. at school. (How cool would it be if cycling was part of the curriculum at school though?).

You may not do either seriously, they’re purely a recreational activity. Yet both can open up door to adventures that haven’t been accessible to you before. With cycling you can cover that little bit of extra distance. With swimming you can enjoy the sea on holiday and see things from a different perspective. Some of my strongest memories as a child are water or cycling related. Long jump into the pool on holiday. Bobbing up and down in the sea resting on a bodyboard in the sea at Pwllheli. Looking up at my neighbour after I’d landing head first in his hedge after a race around our street went slightly wrong…

Combine the two sports and you get a whole host of new adventures available to you. Ride up a mountain, then jump in the lake at the top. Go bike-packing in a foreign country experiencing new cultures, then cool off in the sea after covering so many miles.

Both offer the opportunity to escape. Pushing off the side of a swimming pool wall, like the pressure of the water on your shoulders taking all of the stress away. The adrenaline rush following a downhill section on a mountain bike, where there’s no time to think about anything but the trail ahead.

Mountain Biking

Sometimes it feels like the rush of cold water over your body is required to relax. Other times it requires hammering the pedals on a trail ride. To completely switch off I don’t think there will ever be one solution. The variety has a greater impact and puts a smile on your face. You’ve just got to go wherever your mind takes you.

Open Water Swimming

Some might find comfort in repetition of only ever doing one sport, but honestly? I find everything so much more exciting having a go at whatever comes to mind. Yet cycling and swimming will always be something I come back to. They take me back to my childhood and both are invigorating in their own ways. And living in Wales it means I can do both in so many different places. You’ve just got to know where to look.

MTB Meet Up 2019

Check me out…actually riding a mountain bike!

MTB Meet Up

It’s certainly been a while, but I think I’m slowly getting the mountain bike bug again. I’ve bought new mountain biking kit and everything…ha!

When I saw MTB Meet Up was coming up at Llandegla, I thought I’d head up there. Rolling up to the cafe it was marquee galore taking up pretty much everywhere near the cafe. Marquees full of expensive bikes to demo, but I resisted the temptation to try bikes I’ll never be able to afford. Because naturally I was eyeing up the Hope bikes ha!

We started off as 3 women hitting the trails to ride bikes. The trails were obviously busier than normal so we found ourselves getting overtaken (rather aggressively at times) by multiple E-Bikes. I have nothing against them, but do they really need to barge past when there really wasn’t a gap there? I’d rather not eat part of a tree branch thanks to being pushed to the side of the trail, but hey we’ve got to share the trails right…

With the bonkers heatwave the UK has been having you’d expect me to be say I was riding in blue skies and a vest top. Yet it was drizzly and overcast. The sort of weather I love the most when riding in the forest. Blue skies and dust are great, but nothing beats the forest when it’s damp and muggy. That’s probably the Welsh blood in me though.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Riding down the trails I’ve ridden since I was 10, it’s almost like muscle memory riding there now. No matter how long it’s been, I still know them like the back of my hand. Memories came back even more so this week after building up my old Scott hardtail for Ryan’s little brother. It’s been given a new lease of life and he loves it just as much as I did by the sounds of it!

Doing a mixture of Red and Blue, 3 riders grew to 5 after bumping into 2 who wanted to avoid the Black trail.

Rolling back to the centre I queued up for the bike wash, which had kindly been paid for by Fenwick’s. I left with my bike cleaner than when I arrived ha! Fenwick’s is the only cleaner I’ll use on my bike if I’m honest.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to an uplift soon too. I got rather jealous when I saw everyone’s photos from National Champs the other week!