Fields of Gold

A pootle around some country lanes to loosen up Ryan’s legs for the following day, Saturday night’s ride was by no means a training ride. It was more of a bike ride I guess. The kind you went on as kids and just generally fooling around.


After picking up some ASSOS shorts from Alf Jones Cycles to demo, it was good to be able to ride in a jersey and not a jacket. Granted arms and knee warms were also worn, but it was fairly mild for an evening of cycling. It’s the first time I’ve tried ASSOS shorts, and our 18 mile loop was by no means a ‘hardcore’ test, but I was impressed. On the majority of cycling shorts and leggings I’ve used previously there’s been a seam down the outside of the leg, which I find can restrict me during each pedal stroke. The material can’t stretch very well. With the ASSOS shorts the seam goes almost around the legs, so where I’ve been restricted before, I wasn’t. It was a much more comfortable ride.


Once I’d figured out a good position for my knee warmers, I didn’t need to worry about my shorts rising up. 


With them being bib shorts, I didn’t have to worry about my jersey rising up and getting a cold back. Since using my Mavic bib longs, I’ve got rather use to this feature when out on my bike!


Ryan got on with his shorts too:

“On putting on the shorts I noticed that the cut was slightly different from anything I’ve worn before (and I’ve worn a lot of cycling shorts) The front of shorts is a little lower than normal and the bibs attach at a wider point. This felt a little odd at first, but once I got on the bike it all made sense. The lower front means that once you’re bent over in a riding position nothing digs in and the wider bibs sit nicely on the side of your waist rather than straight up your chest like normal. The rest of the short was faultless; the shorts were well fitted, but not too tight and gave a nice compression feel. The minimalistic leg grippers were spot on and there was no worry of the shorts riding up. And saving the best until last, the chamois (pad) is incredible! Like nothing else I’ve ever ridden in. It sits nicely in the shorts and hugs the body really well (in fact there is areas of the chamois that are left unstitched to the shorts to allow it to fit the contours of your body better) Comfy but not bulky, ASSOS have found the perfect happy medium. Even without using chamois cream (which I usually wouldn’t ride without) the shorts felt mega comfy and are just asking for you to do more miles!” – Ryan




The rest of the ride consisted of rapeseed fields, trying not to swallow flies and trying to out sprint each other. I lost count of how many times I had to stop after getting a fly in my eyes! 


I’m feeling a bit lost after my Triathlon since I don’t really have anything to train for. Yet, quiet rides on Saturday evenings when most are on the sofa are fun and relaxed to do. 

​Free next weekend?

Fancy trying out some ASSOS kit or fancy road bikes?
Why not come down to Alf Jones Cycles and join in the fun on their demo weekend!

Review: Speedo Tri-Suit

 

Speedo Tri-Suit Review, courtesy of Simply Swim

Going into my first Triathlon was a bit like going into the unknown. I had no clue how my body would react to it or if there was any special kit I needed. It was a sprint distance Tri in a swimming pool, so thankfully I didn’t need to splurge out on a wetsuit! However, I did need a Tri-Suit.

I was looking around on the Internet and trying to figure out what size and brand I should go for, then the opportunity arose to review one for swim shop, Simply Swim. Looking through their website it felt like I’d struck gold. A reasonably priced Tri-Suit by Speedo. It looked great online and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to the pink stripes on it! I knew I wanted a predominantly black suit, but I like to keep things a bit colourful too!


When it arrived I was surprised how well it fitted my athletic body shape. I’m forever struggling with sizing due to my broad shoulders and chunky cyclist quads. The only query I did have was how I would deal with the thin padding on the bike. The padding can’t obviously be as bulky as normal cycling shorts, or it would just fill with water!

On the morning of the Tri, I was eager to get into my Tri-Suit and race. Luckily I was one of the first off so I was soon in the pool. I’d only trained in the pool in a normal swimming costume, so I was surprised how comfy and non-restricting swimming in the Tri-Suit was. Due to the wide panel that goes between the shoulders, I thought this may restrict my shoulders. However, the more you look at it, the outer parts of that panel are mesh, meaning the main section sit right in between my shoulder. Hence, little restriction whilst swimming.


There is also another mesh section a bit further down the back and in the centre. I felt this also aided the swim, allowed me to get into my normal position on the bike, as well as accommodating the slight twisting of the upper body on the run.

Riding through the Glyn Ceiriog Valley and out on the run, I was expecting the legs of the Tri-Suit to rise a fair bit. I have this dilemma with my cycling shorts quite a bit! But I can genuinely say I had no issues with the Tri-Suit legs rising up, which is most likely thanks to the grips on the inside of the legs. With some women complaining about discomfort in their suits, I’d obviously chosen my Tri-Suit well!


All of the seaming is overlocked meant I had no issue with discomfort from the suit rubbing on my skin as I put all my effort into getting round. The thin padding I mentioned previously did its job particularly well too. Granted it was only around 14 miles on the bike, but the majority of that was sitting down.

For the £80 it was being sold for, you are definitely getting a lot for your money. It’s clearly designed around the task in hand as well as comfort for the athlete using it. I’m even considering getting a swim suit to train in, as I was much more comfortable swimming in my Tri-Suit than my normal swim suit.


For a newbie to Sprint Triathlon’s like me, this suit was perfect to get me round my first Triathlon, and most importantly make me want to do another one!

Find out how I got on during the Triathlon through the link below, as well as my first thoughts on the Tri-Suit when it arrived and its detailing…

Chirk Tri

First Thoughts on a Speedo Tri-Suit

Chirk Tri – Fuelled by Easter Eggs

It finally came around, the race that I’ve been gambling on about for months…

My first Triathlon.

And…drumroll… I completed it, which when I could barely swim 25m last October, was all I ever wanted to do.

Going into it I genuinely had no idea how it would turn out. I was doing a typical me and overthinking and over planning everything. In my head, I wanted to wear socks for the bike and run. I needed gloves and a jacket for the ride so I didn’t get cold. I was going to put a Buff on to stop my wet hair dripping down my back.

What happened in the transition from swim to bike?

I left transition with no socks, no jacket, no Buff and no gloves. I was venturing out into the valley to Glyn Ceiriog in a wet Tri-Suit. Nice one Lucy…nice one…ha!


Off out on the bike there was a long drag uphill to the half way point. A climb which looks less steep than it actually is, so it’s easy for it to play with your mind. You feel like you’re struggling a lot more than you should be. I felt a lot stronger than I thought I would be and on the descent I would only feel stronger as the climb was now a descent. It was such a great road to race on. There was a final kick up a hill heading back up to Chirk, where I was expecting my legs to hurt a fair bit, but I somehow just breezed up it. I think I was on such a high after the swim my legs just kept going!


The swim isn’t actually something I’ve spoken about first, despite it coming first in the Tri! So how did that go?

Interesting to say the least.


I may have misheard, but I’m sure someone said the pool was shallow at both ends, but it wasn’t. I push off for my first length and get to the other side of hot pool. It reach for a bar and go to put my feet on the bottom of the pool. The floor was nowhere to be seen along with the bar. Well done Lucy, you’ve nearly drowned and you’ve done one length. Ha! Thankfully I managed to grab onto the side and carry on!

But after a few lengths another swimmer past me and as I went to breath, rather a lot of water went into my mouth. Thankfully I was still in a shallow part of the pool when that happened, or god knows how that would have ended. After that point, all the swimming techniques went out the window and I just wanted to get out on my bike. Next minute, a sign with the lovely number 2 on meant I had two lengths left. I quickly sped up and was soon out of the pool!

The biggest hurdle of the Triathlon for me was done. After what was always going to be the strongest parts for me, the bike, it was back into transition for the run. It did involve me stopping dead at the dismount line though after forgetting about it!

Transition from bike to run was interesting. Despite me feeling strong on the bike, I was freezing cold! The downhills on the way back meant in transition I could barely feel my hands or feet. Have you ever tried to put running shoes onto your wet feet that you no longer have any feeling in? Don’t. It’s near damn impossible. I apologise to anyone who was around me at that point in transition…ha!

Being as cold as I was, I picked up my cycling jacket (to run…I know I’m mad), my gloves and a Buff. The first part of the run felt rather odd because it felt like all of the blood was rushing back to my legs. I still couldn’t warm myself up though.


At this point I put on my Buff as a headband. From my training runs I normally put a Buff on now to stop my hair going in my face, but I also found it raised my body temperature quite a bit  if I put it over my ears. So my Buff became invaluable during the run on my Tri. My body temperature quickly warmed up and I could get round the 2.6 mile run to the finish.

Running took a back seat in training vernthe past few weeks. My swimming was important and I’d spent a lot of time at Crit races and a TT. The time had past and it dawned on me how little I’d been out running. Yet, when my Garmin bleeped showing my first mile was a 8:22 my pace wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.

Similarly to a Duathlon I did last October, when I realised I could possibly get a sub hour and a half time, I made sure I picked up the back on the last downward stretch to the finish. I was in nowhere near of a state as I was for the Duathlon at the finish either. I was just on a massive high from the whole thing. Something that had been on my Bucket List for so long was now ticked off. And I think I may even do another one…

My family have been amazing since I booked onto the Tri. Thinking I’m mad when I’ve come back from a long run or a tough swim session. I’m just glad I managed to finish it to make all of the training worthwhile. I may have splashed and struggled at times, but I kept my race face mentality with the only thing on my mind being the finish. Ryan’s been the biggest support and I definitely couldn’t have done it without him. Not letting me have too many lazy days and taking me on long days out on the bike.

Everyone at Chirk Tri did amazingly today from the competitors to those involved in running the event. We can’t forget the Marshals either! Their smiling faces were a big encouragement on the way round.

I was so nervous at the start, but the women who were swimming at the same time as me were full of encouragement. It definitely helped when the whistle went to start swimming.

The way I’ve rambled on, anyone would think I’d done a marathon! To everyone doing the London Marathon or anything active, whatever your reason behind doing it, keep it up & well done!

Finishing in 1 hour 26 minutes? I’m happy with that.

I just need to find something else to train for now…but look out for future blog posts where I review the kit that got me through my first Triathlon:

Striving over the Seven Gates

The Bank Holiday came around and we were off to Dolgellau again. Even with plenty of rain forecast, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Welsh mountains. That’s the thing I suppose when you go west in Wales, you go from hills to mountains. Jagged skylines and the weather making its way across to you by rolling over the peaks. Sunshine one moment and grey skies the next. Even in shorts you need to make sure you’re carrying a waterproof jacket!

With a fairly late start (after a much needed lie in!) we were heading off on our bikes. We being me, Ryan, Cheri & Neil. I knew of certain climbs and roads we’d be doing, but only names. No real idea of what lay ahead, apart from a fairly big day out on the road bikes. Although I certainly didn’t expect it to be the furthest I’d been on a road bike to date…


After a fair bit of main road, with a few country lanes to begin with, we were heading towards a road named the ‘Seven Gates’. Aptly named due to the 7 gates along it…however there may only now be 5. The further we went the more feet of climbing we’d gain under our belts with the views across the Rhinog mountains revealing themselves. Little lambs dancing around the fields with little bleats as their mothers went out of their sight.

I was a bit of a nightmare to ride with to be honest due to my body temperature constantly changing. Going up the climbs I just could not keep my core temperature down. Forever trying to figure out the best combination of clothes so I could actually just keep riding!

As the Rhinog mountains dominated the skyline, I couldn’t help but think they remind of a scene from the Pixar film Cars…


With a stone-brick bridge arching over a running stream heading back down the hill we had just climbed, there was a cyclist with a rather less than ideal situation. A snapped rear mech cable. What made it really awkward was it had snapped near the shifter, so it was definitely deemed useless…but when 3 cyclists turned up with a fair bit of experience of making a bike useable to at least get somewhere to fix it properly…the lady was in luck! The 3 cyclists being everyone but me…ha!

A cable tied mech later, she was a least able to make her way back to Bala and pay a visit to their bike shop who would later change her gear cable.


Bike mechanics finished with, it was time to head towards the top of the Seven Gates and begin the descent. By far the longest road bike descent I have ever done, but I somehow got down it. It was the type of road where if you weren’t in your drops to begin with, it was very hard to move to that position. And when the descent increases to 17% whilst dealing with everything else, it was definitely a nerve wracking descent! Says the girl who use to race downhill mountain bikes…yikes what’s happened to me!


Through the multiple gates, we then made our way to Bala round the back of the lake. My legs seemed to wake up at this point after being somewhat less than cooperative to this point, my legs just wanted to dart up the short but sweet climbs. I tend to do that…have random spurts of energy when out riding, or maybe it was the promise of food in Bala that kicked my legs into shape…


Pulling into a cafe in Bala, the rest was much appreciated. However, I may have gone a little over board with food. After coffee, a baguette and cake…the ride back to Dolgellau was interesting to say the least. Ryan seems to think it was the fact I’d ridden 48 miles. Not 48 Cheshire plains miles, but 48 miles in the middle of Wales. But I guess we’ll have to see how I fair on my next long road ride to find out!

Ryan’s photos filling this blog post. Make sure to check back soon to read about our trip up the Rhinog Mountains!

No Place Better…

I tend to have those place that, despite not being all that technical, I still want to go and ride my mountain bike there. After visiting Llyn Brenig and the Alwen reservoirs multiple times for Wales Rally GB, they have been on my list for a rather long time. Arriving without a yellow helicopter dodging trees and rally cars doing the same, it felt rather quiet! Granted there were still plenty of people around, just not as many as when the WRC spectators pay the reservoir a visit.

I wasn’t expecting the routes to be anything near what I’ve ridden in the past. I was only expecting fire roads really, but I just wanted to see more of the place after only being able to see minimal parts of it at the rally. We started off on the fire road that goes around Llyn Brenig. I was happy just being in the Welsh countryside on my mountain bike. No pressure to go a certain speed or ride a certain way, just being out in the sunshine.

Opening and closing the multiple gates, we found ourselves at a junction of trails. Back to the Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre or to the Alwen Reservoir. After a climb that was a lot tougher that it looked, I was so close to saying let’s just head back, but with the sun out what better place is there to be? We’d only get home sooner to do well….not a lot! Me and my brother don’t get out on the bikes together much, so we may as well make the most of the rare occasion of us both having free weekends to ride our bikes.


Going round Alwen was something I didn’t regret either, as it was definitely closer to single track than Llyn Brenig. We were riding in and out of the forest too, which gave us a break from having the sun warming our backs. The trails were so quiet apart from a few walkers and young families out riding bikes. We couldn’t go particularly fast because of this, but it meant we could fully take in all of the amazing views around us. Those amazing views also meant taking lots of photos, which my brother wasn’t too pleased about ha!

In some sections the trees were that big we could have mistaken ourselves for being in Canada or somewhere in the Alps.

 
“As amazing as the Alps in the snow are, nothing quite beats Wales in the Spring”

 
Riding across the bridge over the pitch black Alwen, I somehow had to put all my faith in a bridge that was no doubt quite old…

Riding over the moorlands and coming to realise just how big the reservoirs were.

It was refreshing to see somewhere new and make the most of this sunny weekend.

#WorkoutWednesday: 5th April 2017


Swiping to the right on my phone to see the countdown to my first triathlon ticking away, it hit me. We’re now in the month of April and it’s less than 20 days until it all kicks off. 

Yikes!

I’ve had plenty of training to do and thankfully got the 400m mark in the pool, which is what I need to do come race day. It was an odd session really, definitely mind over matter. 

Getting into the pool I was tense and unsure of if I could hit the 400m mark. With obviously not long left to get there, I was naturally a bit worried! Worrying played havoc with my breathing, but all of a sudden I found my self just going back and to in the pool. Racking those all important lengths up. 

Granted, once those 400m were done I had to sit in the jacuzzi pool for a bit to get my breath back…but I still reached my 400m milestone!

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in getting a personal trainer or following a strict diet, but sometimes setting yourself some realistic goals each month can make a huge difference! I’ve built up my ability in the 100m at a time.

What do you find helps with training? Do you prefer to train alone, or get someone to sort all your sessions out for you? Leave it in the comments below, whether you’re a training champion or just do it to keep healthy/enjoy it. 

Why Cool-Down Laps are a Necessity 


Since entering the world of road racing I’ve had to learn fast. Apart from the races I’ve done, the most I’ve been out on the road with is me & Ryan. 

Apparently if you initiate the breakaway, it’s ‘your’ breakaway, so you’re in charge.

If you get given the number 13, you put on of your numbers on upside down. (With road racing you have two numbers on your back.)

This weekend we went up to Tameside for some Cat 3/4 races, where there was a women’s race as well as a men’s race. I’d done two races previously at Rhyl, but both meant I was racing against the men. So I was just riding on my own really! This was the first race I could potentially be able to race, although I was worried I’d get dropped early on in the race.

We started off and I had no clue what was going on. The pace was fairly slow and we were all bunched up on a fairly narrow track. I wasn’t entirely confident going into an upcoming tight corner in the middle of a big bunch, so I decided to head off ahead of the bunch…


It didn’t last long, but I somehow hadn’t been dropped by the other women racing. Through the 30 laps positions were constantly changing and I was at max effort for the hour we were riding. Sprints out of corners and generally working hard to hopefully keep a top ten position. 

Crossing the finish line I was done and completely bailed on a cool-down lap. My body and brain had taken a beating throughout the race and I needed to get some fluid back into me. On such a tight track and fast-paced racing, getting a drink would basically be like me pausing and trying to enter the race again.


I quickly got changed, but my quads cramped and the adrenaline from competing again had kicked in. Trying to hold any form of conversation was a challenge!

So…er…next race I do I’ll make sure I fit in a cool-down lap. Feeling rough after that race wasn’t fun, but was there really any surprise when my Garmin told me my training effort through the race was 5 out of 5. I was overreaching basically…oops!

Being the aircraft nerd I am, we also ended up at the cafe at Manchester Airport. 

Avoiding Pine Cones & Hill Climbs


When I first started doing more cycling on the road, you’d normally find me in the hills. They were the roads I knew most and at the time were what I thought to be the most accessible. When the longer miles were a lot tougher for me, the promise of a good view would always keep me pedalling!
This weekend we returned to the hills on, not a route I’d previously ridden, but through some areas I knew fairly well.

Apparently up the ‘easy’ side of the hill we were climbing…it was a long way up! From what I can remember, there was one small section you could briefly recover before it turned into a long slog up again. I could tell I’d not ridden steep hills for a while!


Following Ryan’s rear wheel, I was actually enjoying the route. It was just good to be out under the blue skies amongst everyone else enjoying the sunshine too. I kind of feel like Mother Nature knew the UK needed a weekend of good weather with everything that’s been going on lately.

Coming up to a junction in he completely wrong gear, riding up the hill around the corner was interesting to say the least. It was an ‘out of the saddle’ sprint just to get up it without having to stop…and I somehow managed it!

What goes up must come down, and approaching a descent Ryan told me I wouldn’t need my brakes, I was desperately trying not to reach for the brakes. Despite doing Downhill MtB for a few years, descending isn’t exactly a skill of mine yet. On closed roads free of potholes I’d probably be a little more confident, but the reality is obviously the opposite!

All the way down, all sorts was going through my head:

‘Don’t touch the brakes, just don’t touch the brakes’

‘Gah you just had to touch the brakes didn’t you’

‘Pine cones….yep definitely need to avoid those!’

I was glad to get off that road….

The ride was quite eventful in some ways to be honest. Riding along a country lane and a bird hunting for food swoops down from a tree above me. It was one of those surreal moments because it so rarely happens.

The time passed fairly swiftly just like the miles. I wasn’t expected the 24 miles my Garmin showed after I pressed the stop button!

Battling the West Pennines

Going into this weekend I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but then nobody can predict racing can they!

A 14 mile Time Trial was the challenge. I’d been riding between 25 and 30 miles regularly, so 14 shouldn’t be a problem right? Those rides weren’t that slow, but I certainly wasn’t going full effort for an hour like I would be for the TT. The only time I’d pushed myself for an hour and above was a Duathlon last October and I remember that that hurt a lot!

Rocking up to the West Penine Road Club’s TT the skies were grey and rain was falling down. On a drive around the 14 mile loop, the roads were riddles with puddles and water running off the fields. 

How on earth was I going to get around this? On a bike we’d built the night before. I say we because I ended up requiring help off Ryan when I decided to have a complete mind blank on how to build a bike. I’d not done it as a job for a year or anything…

The rain kept falling and I was trying to figure out how I could pin a number to an expensive waterproof jacket without putting holes in it. Luckily I’d chucked in a £10 Endura jacket that was going cheap online. I like to support my local bike shop as much as I can, but that £10 jacket has now become the jacket I’ll use for TT’s where rain is causing chaos. I’d also put my Mavic gloves last minute, which I’m now incredibly glad I did!

TT tip number one? Packed for all kinds of weather as you never know what you’ll end up dealing with even if the Weather app on your phone tells you you’re going to dodge the rain….

One thing I noticed fairly soon after arriving was how nice everyone was. I told all the other girls I met good luck and then it was time for me to get changed. And get a certain bike to fit me! Seat and bar adjustments needed to be made…all minutes before a race but hey ho…ha!

I’d heard about the TT after Joanna Rowsell had posted it on Twitter encouraging more girls to enter. The part that shocked me the most was that she was the one to ensure there was equal prize money for both men and women, even if she had to put some money in herself. With the large start list with plenty of girls in the mix, there wasn’t actually a problem funding the equal prize money.


Since meeting Ryan, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying a TT. Road cycling had become a much bigger part of my life whilst I tried to find job and build a career. It was easy to get out on the road bike straight out of my back door, where as mountain biking would rarely end up materialising. I just wanted to go out and pedal, and road cycling offered that even if it was on my brother’s bike which was two sizes too big!

When a message popped up on my phone off Ryan asking if I’d checked the start list, I was getting worried! I was expecting a jam packed field of pro’s I’d be at the back of, however the surprise was much more pleasant than that. Ryan’s start time was a minute behind my start time meaning we could start together pretty much. It also meant he could brief me on what on earth was going on!

Clipped in and held upright until it was time for me to go, I was given a bit of a push to get going and off I went to experience my first ever Time Trial. 

The first part was a bit of a mess for me if I’m honest, I’d find myself in the completely wrong gear going up 10% gradients or not knowing how my bike would hold its line on the descents. The roads were like rivers and roads I didn’t know either with the TT being up in Clitheroe near Preston. However, passing a speed checkers that brought up 20mph I started to feel a little bit more confident on the bike. I was expecting to be going much slower!

When they called it a hilly time trial they weren’t kidding! From the TT’s I’d been to watch Ryan compete in they were dual-carriageways or flat roads. This TT was the opposite, especially with it finishing with a 10% uphill gradient toward the finish! Wind and rain battering me through every pedal stroke I somehow found myself caught unawares at the finish. So TT tip No. two? Find a few landmarks you can use to gauge how far you’ve got to go! Or a fancy Garmin to sit on your bars, but I’ll stick to the less expensive landmarks option for now!

Ryan with his 4th place!!!


Rolling back to the race HQ after attempting to shout my number to the guy on the finish line, I was soaked! My Mavic gloves were dripping wet, yet I had the biggest smile on my face. My first Time Trial had given me such a buzz. To some the thought of hurting yourself for an hour sounds like hell, but for me it was pushing past limits I’d not stretched before. Putting my everything into every pedal stroke. Beating my target of a sub-hour time by 7 minutes. So many good things came from doing that race in the pouring rain. I was so close to not doing it because of the weather, but sometimes switching off your brain to do something outside of your comfort zone can be the most uplifting thing you’ll ever do.

Let’s not forget we got to meet one of Britain’s most successful female cyclists, Joanna Rowsell, who’s recently announced her retirement and is going on to study at University. I still can’t get over how down-to-earth and genuine she was. She didn’t just put her name against the event, she stood outside in the pouring rain to marshal and helped organise tand alongside her husband, Daniel Shand.

A big thank you to them both and of course the West Penine’s Cycling Club. Everyone involved in the event can’t be thanked enough! I’ll look forward to seeing everyone somewhere on the TT circuit in the future!