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

 

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???

#FreshKitFriday

Fresh Kit Friday 25th May 2018

With cycling kit for women slowly starting to head in the right direction, I thought I’d introduce #FreshKitFriday to show off some kit that has caught my eye recently. I’ll mix it up between the various sports I do, so keep checking back for my latest #FreshKitFriday !

  1. Castelli Prisma FZ Jersey – £75

Castelli have certainly upped their game when it comes to the designs on their kit. Their 2018 kit is completely different to anything I’ve seen before, and is almost a breath of fresh air in the world of cycling kit. So many brands produce kit with black as the main colour, which when you’re a cyclist that wants to be seen on the road isn’t ideal! These bright colours definitely caught my eye when I saw the jerseys for the first time whilst in a shop in Mallorca.

2. Women’s FS260-PRO Adrenaline Race Cape II – £79.99

I find you can’t really go wrong with an Endura jacket. I have two, one is more light weight for Summer showers and my other one is more suited for the Winter months. I always find the fit is spot on and they stretch a little to accommodate your position on the bike. There’s nothing worse than a cycling jacket without a little give in the material!

3. ASSOS T.laaLalai_S7 Women Bib Shorts – £160

Now before you scream ‘how much?!?’, the price always put me off ASSOS shoes. Being a student it was just never possible, but Ryan converted me and I’ve never looked back…ha! I get on with the lining really well and another thing I love about them is that there are very few seams. My legs feel less restricted when I’m on the bike. I’m not sure if its a common problem, but some shorts with the seam down the outside of the leg seem to restrict its movement. It feels like the material is pulling around my leg. But with my ASSOS shorts this isn’t an issue.

4. Kask Mojito Helmet – £119

When I started to get more into road biking…all of a sudden wearing my mountain bike helmet made me stand out with the peak and FOX branding all over it! I’ve never been one to stick to a helmet brand, but now I’ve tried the Kask it is definitely the most snug on my head. A long standing design with the brand, my favourite feature about it is the retention system (the bracket on the back) can move down to accommodate my long hair that’s always a nightmare to get into a helmet.

5.  Rapha Pro Team Socks – £15

You can always rely on Rapha for simple, but classy, designs. I always love the colours they use and you can’t go wrong with a new pair of socks!

6. Fizik Women’s R5B Donna Road Shoes – £139.99

I am certainly in the market for some new road shoes over the next few months. My Shimano shoes have served me well to be honest once I discovered overshoes over the Winter. Now Summer is upon us I’ll be looking for some shoes that fit my wide feet and have something called a Boa dial so I can ditch the velcro straps…

7. Castelli Viva Donna Headband – £12

A little bit more Castelli to finish things off because I have seen so many women use these headbands! I’ve always used Buff’s to keep my ears warm and my hair out of my face whilst on the bike, but now it’s starting to get that little bit hotter on my rides I’ll be picking up one of these headbands to use. A lot less material than a Buff means I can keep cooler for longer when out on my bike.

 

RAF Cycling and the CiCLE Classic

My adventure to the Cicle Classic started late last year when we decided that as 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the formation on the Royal Air Force, it would be pretty cool to get the RAF cycling team into one of the big races in the UK.

We asked the organisers of many of the UK’s premier races, but reduced field sizes and the large number of UK pro teams was making it difficult to fit us in. But then the amazing Colin Clews said he had space for a team of four riders.

Things had escalated; now we weren’t just racing a UK professional race, this race was part of the UCI European tour.

Time for some last minute panic training…

So what makes the Rutlan-Melton International CiCLE so special?

Now in its 14th year, it is widely regarded as the longest, hardest one day race in the UK, the CiCLE classic is contested by 36 teams over 117 miles. What makes this race unique in the UK is the 11 special sectors taking the race “off road” down farm tracks and dirt tracks. This makes punctures and mechanical issues very common, so spare wheels and support crew can make all the difference.

Race Day

We were the lowest ranked team in the race, and I was rider number 192 (the last man in the race). Turning up to the team area we realised just how deep we were. Team buses, following cars, mechanics, gazebos, turbo trainers for warm ups. All the riders had to do was turn up and get on their bikes. We on the other hand turned up in our own cars and set about sorting our bikes and kit out by ourselves.

We did have matching kit though…

We met our 2 dedicated helpers and passed them the array of random drinks bottles and spare wheels we had. As they made their way to points on the course, we donned our helmets and headed off to the start area to sign on.

The start area was buzzing with spectators. It was pretty cool to walk up on stage to sign on as we were introduced to the amassing crowd. Funny moment of the day, the commentator introduced us as the team of RAF Pro Cycling, ha, he must have been used to saying “pro cycling” at the end of every team. There is nothing “pro” about our team, we all have day jobs.

Lining up on the start line was a surreal experience; I was stood next to guys I have watched on TV! There were Olympians, former world and national champions and a handful of riders who had just returned from the Commonwealth Games. And there I was about to ride the same race as them!

So at 11.00 on the dot, the race started. The first mile was neutralised behind the lead car, which was scary as everyone was jockeying for position. The flag dropped and I found myself sprinting as hard as I could as everyone accelerated. I looked down at my computer and we were doing 45mph!!! It was at that point I knew we were in for a long hard day in the saddle.

The first 30 miles were on the wide roads around Rutland Water, and with the roads totally closed to traffic we had both sides of the road to ride on. I’ve never ridden in a group of 192 people, and I’m not going to lie it is rather scary, everyone was nervous and trying to move up towards the front. I was just trying to stay upright and not get dropped.

Going into the first special sector at 30 miles there was a huge acceleration, nearly 200 guys were going to do a 90 degree left turn from a 2 lane main road onto a single lane farm track. It was hairy to say the least.

I found myself about 2 thirds of the way down the bunch. Just as I thought “this isn’t too bad” 2 riders from the same team collided in front of me and went down forcing me onto the grass to get round. Thankfully it was dry and not muddy. So from then on the field would only thin out further.

Ian, one of the other RAF riders, was not so lucky. He punctured mid sector and then had to wait for the neutral service car to get a spare wheel.

Leaving the sector I was just relaxing and commending myself on surviving when the bunch accelerated and I was forced to sprint to keep up. I saw the gap get bigger in front of me and thought it could be all over. Thankfully the small group of riders around me wanted to work hard to try and get back on. We eventually made it back to the main group, which was now noticeably smaller than it was a few miles earlier. I saw my two remaining RAF teammates who were equally as shocked as I was.

The next 20 miles consisted of me hanging onto the rear part of the group as we went over hills and down narrow lanes. Every couple of miles I would see someone crash or puncture. Including one rider from a European team go careering off the road into an electric fence with barbed wire on the top. That looked very nasty.

In the early part of the sector at 53 miles the worst happened, I punctured. My heart sank, this was not good. The only thing to do was keep pedalling. I rode the rest of the sector on a flat, my rear wheel sliding all over the place as riders shot passed me.

Now puncturing is bad luck, but this was the luckiest puncture I could have had. As I excited the sector I saw an RAF jersey at the side of the road. Of all the places for Silky, one of our two helpers to stand it was here. After a slightly fumbled wheel change I was back on my bike and beginning the chase back on. Soon enough I was back in to convoy of cars following the race and working my way up. The convoy is a scary place, the vehicles can be unpredictable, especially on narrow roads. Team cars suddenly stopping to help their riders, riders being dropped and going backwards, and all in a cloud of dust kicked up by the 40+ vehicles.

After 10 miles of chasing I finally got back to the back of the bunch. As I made it back on who should I see sitting pretty at the back, Dan, one of my teammates. We had a quick chat and swapped drinks bottles (I had one of his flavoured powders and he had one with just plain water).

Back in the bunch I was sitting fairly happy and then just before the 80 mile point I cramped bad on one of the steep climbs losing contact with the back of the bunch. Bizarrely, Dan suffered the same fate at the same time. After giving each other a quick pep talk, we decided to not give up and press on as a pair and try and get back.

We spent 10 miles weaving through the convoy trying as hard as we could; we got within 25m of the bunch as it hit a sector. The acceleration was too much for us to live with and the bunch disappeared into the distance.

We kept working, knowing that if we could get to the finishing circuit after the 100 mile point we could finish the race. The only thing stopping us was the broom wagon, the last car in the race convoy. Once this car catches you, you are eliminated from the race.

As we pushed on Dan cramped again and dropped back. Now on my own I had the painful experience of carrying on as best I could, all the time passing riders that had been dropped and given up.

Then the inevitable happened, I was caught by the broom waggon at 97 miles. So close to the finishing circuit, but part of me was relieved that the suffering was over.

I took the straight line to the finish to watch the last part of the race. And eventually meeting up with Dan and Ian. Both of us stood there, covered in mud/dust and totally empty. We must have looked bad, the photographers all started taking photos of us and the state we were in.

Incredibly, Antony, the remaining RAF rider, was still in the race. He’d hung in there as the race exploded and was in one of the chasing groups. We all stood there to cheer him on, it didn’t matter that we were tired, cold, hungry and no longer in the race.

We started as a team and we would finish as a team.

Antony came down the finish straight leading his group, about 8 minutes down on the winner. But just surviving and finishing this race is a major achievement. That day, over 100 riders didn’t finish, many of them full time professionals.

In summary, that was the hardest 4.5 hours of my cycling career, and I’ve never been so proud of a DNF. This race is something special, totally unique and incredibly hard. I may never get another chance to ride it or even compete at this level, but I’m proud to have been part of it.

The CiCLE classic takes place at the end of April each year, and if you find yourself in the Rutland area I’d thoroughly recommend going to spectate. The crowds were amazing, and with the race making several passes of the same area, you can watch the race several times from one location.

The RAF 100 Baton Relay is currently on its way around the country, so go and find them on Facebook and see who how they’re celebrating 100 years of the RAF.

Finding People To Cycle With

Finding People to Cycle With

Starting something new, like cycling, or getting the motivation to go out and ride can be difficult sometimes. There’s always something to tick off the to-do list, or you haven’t got enough time. Whatever the scenario, sometimes organising to go out with other people can be just the ticket to get you out. Whether you go 5 miles or 50, on the road or on the trail.

1.Find a cycling group to join.

Some of you might have ‘training’ rides you need to go on, and others may just cycle for the social side of it. Either way, riding with others is always more fun, or at least having the option to ride with others is. I totally relate to those day you just want to spend with yourself on the road or in the mountains. Anyway, my first top tip is to set aside days you can go on rides to meet new people. Find a Facebook group to organise a group of cyclists together and meet up to ride with no agenda or intentions. You don’t need to get back by a certain time, or obtain a certain amount of PB’s. All you need to do is get to know the new people you’re riding with. You’ll be able to gauge their ability against yours and if they go at a social pace for you to keep up with. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new cycling buddy, and if not you’ve met someone new and had a good day on your bike.

There will be a post coming out next week on good Facebook groups to join!

2.Go to cycling events local or further afield.

The best thing about Girls At Llandegla was so many of the girls managed to find new people to go cycling with. Some had only ridden with men before, so now they have a group of girls to go out with. To stop and take those all important Instagram snaps with and enjoy what’s around them.

3.Join a Breeze ride.

A few years ago British Cycling set up the Breeze initiative to encourage more women to ride bikes. With rides both on the road and trails, whatever you fancy doing you can head over to the British Cycling website to search for a ride in your area. Breeze rides are risk assessed roots graded on their difficulty, and mean you’ve got guaranteed riding buddies if you fancy riding somewhere new or local.

Oulton Park Spring Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

My never ending habit of entering races last minute came about again recently. Less than two weeks prior to Oulton Park Duathlon I put in an entry. I was getting restless not competing, so I just thought I’d wing it as per normal. People train months for these things…I just chuck myself in at the deep end ha!

The closer the Duathlon got the more I wondered what the hell I was doing. I massively upped my training and managed to get a lot of running in. I felt guilty not getting out on my bike much, so I knew I’d rely on my ability to dig deep on my bike.

Feeling rather lethargic throughout the week I was praying that I wasn’t coming down with an illness. Luckily I felt a lot better come race day, but those nerves were still there questioning if I’d even complete it.

Arriving at Oulton Park, I (we including Ryan) were actually on time for once. I have a habit of making race mornings stressful because I’m running late.

I got my numbers all sorted and jumped on the turbo trainer. Most people were running up and down the paddock to warm up, but I was in the mood for sitting on the turbo spinning my legs with my headphones on. And when some of my favourite Stereophonics songs came on I switched off from what everyone else was doing and focussed on beating my last time at Oulton Park of one hour 28 minutes. Out of all the years I’ve spent racing, from downhill to road cycling races, this was the first time I managed to not let my nerves get the better of me. This came as quite a shock to me to be honest.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Following race briefing we were soon lining up on the pit straight waiting for the whistle.  Now last time at Oulton Park I ended up getting a PB for 1 mile in the first mile of the race, so I was trying to pace myself…nope I ended up running a 7:22 which is by far quicker than what I run in training! I thought, one lap is just over two miles and I’m use to running longer than that now, so I just got on with it. Not going to lie though, Oulton Park does lure you in with a fairly easy start, but chucks hills in at the end.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I come back in from the first run feeling fairly ok. I thought I’d be struggling with my non existent training plan prior, but I hopped on my bike avoiding slipping in my road cycling shoes running through transition. Thankfully the marshals reminded me to move my number round to the back!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I exited the pits where transition was and onto the race track, again surprised by how much power I had in my legs. I settled into the bike leg rather quick. I’m not sure whether I just find it easier to get into a rhythm on the bike. I loved being back on my Liv, as I’ve not ridden it since Mallorca. That also reminds me…the 70 mile ride from Mallorca possibly became more useful than I first thought as I was use to my legs hurting a lot more after Sa Calobra!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018img_0796Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Unsure on what lap I was on, I was lucky I didn’t do one too many laps! Making sure I got off my bike before the dismount line I swapped back over to my running trainers. My legs feeling like jelly going straight from bike to run. I was looking down at my watch trying to figure out what time I had left to beat 1:28.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I wanted to up the pace, but knew the short climbs were still to come. So I stuck to my pace until I got the hills out of the way. Then it was a sprint finish to make sure I beat that time. If I hadn’t of sprinted and been a few seconds over 1:28, I would have been gutted.

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I completely forgot to grab my time at the end. I must have looked a right mess because the girl handing out the medals asked if I was ok…ha! I’d dug deep…

Going back to the gazebo to get my time I somehow managed to get confused by the system to get it. The Duathlon really messed with my head ha! Either way, I printed my little slip out revealing I’d done 1:23…thank god! I could be in a good mood for the rest of the day…ha! I came 20th overall in the women and second (out of three…) in my age group.

Whatever way I look at it, I can somehow still push myself despite not having the winter I wanted. I just want to find another event to enter now!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

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!