#PugsNotDrugs

Ryan seems to think I’m not too bad at going up hills, so a hill climb is what I ended up doing. One of those old traditions of road cycling that rears its head through September and October every year.

Apart from going up a hill as fast as you can, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was familiar with the undulating climb out of Oswestry as it was the road I’d use to get to the downhill tracks at Moelfre. As mad as it sounds, I’d always wanted to ride it on a road bike. The surface was good and it was a fairly long climb. And now I was racing up it… Naturally, I wanted to ride down it too.

We went to warm up by heading up the 1.6 mile climb and down a little lane. I was thankful for this as my legs needed waking up a bit. It did almost feel counter productive with the descent back down to the bottom, but nevermind. Finding myself close to 40mph through no effort of my own was a surprise ha!

Promptly getting to the start line, Ryan was setting off ahead of me. Shortly before he set off we were both in hysterics after he blurted out ‘#pugsnotdrugs‘. It definitely calmed my pre-race nerves when the image of ‘Bella the Pug‘ popped back ito my head. 

I soon found myself heading through what was almost like a tunnel of trees before popping out into the open again. It wasn’t a straight forward climb, more of an undulating one. There was the first kicker, a dip in the middle and a steep shoot up just to finish your legs off with the sting of riding uphill having sunk in ages ago. My head completely went. I was trying to jump up the cassette to find an easier gear whilst still in the big ring. When I finally found the easiest gear, I was going up the last steep shoot towards the end. 

Trying not to get distracted by a cute dog watching on the side, I was definitely at max effort. I crossed the finish line and darted off down a side road where I could do nothing but rest my head on my handlebars. Only for a farmer to shout out,

“A bit tough up that bank?”

Just a bit…

Performance Enhancing Pugs

I was so close to curling up on the sofa and watching a film on Sunday. I didn’t feel 100% and wasn’t sure how that would pair with a hilly road ride. There’s nothing worse than being unwell on a road ride!

However, another scorching day dragged me out of the house. I tried not to think about the long climb ahead on the route Ryan had planned. I just kept turning the pedals hoping my burning legs would quieten down soon. 

The route went from trying not to fall put of a trackstand at traffic lights to ever rising and winding country lanes, one of which I was lagging behind Ryan a bit. Suddenly out pops a Pug from the hedge a the side of the road, hopelessly trying to catch up to Ryan.

I don’t think anyone will have ever seen a Pug runs so fast. 


When she (i.e. Bella the Pug) realised her short legs couldn’t quite keep up, she came running back down the hill to me. Only to the. go and do a little excitable wee on the floor, which was thankfully not all over me as I then picked her up to stop her getting in any more trouble!

So we were out on a road ride and now with a Pug in tow…

What on earth do we do with a Pug?

I didn’t even have my bum bag with me to squeeze it into and take it home…damn!

Ha, no. Ryan went further up the hill to see if Bella had got free from her lead. I tried to calm a rather excitable Pug down, which in all fairness was not that easy! I had no idea how full of energy they were!

Ryan had no success so we went down to the houses further down the hill. Wherever this Pug had come from, with all the excitement Bella certainly needed a drink. Hearing a voice in one of the gardens we went to ask for water for the Pug, for that garden to be where Bella had actually escaped from. 

So one Pug was safely returned and it put me in such a good mood for the rest of our loop in the Welsh Hills. Somehow Ryan coped with me going on and on about how cute Bella was. My aching legs disappeared and I sprinted up the next few hills.


I was so glad Ryan convinced me I’d feel better when I was out on the bike. The ride just got more and more surreal. The views looked different and I couldn’t help myself from stopping to take it all in. World’s End was like a corridor of purple heather and on the Panorama the views went on forever. 


We got back later than expected, but it was such a funny and picturesque ride we just ended up in hysterics every time we spoke about it. 


I hope everyone had a Bank Holiday Weekend as amazing as mine. I got to spend it with such lovely people, it put me in the best mood for the week ahead. 


Welsh Champs 2017: Llyn Brenig

Photo Credit: Welsh Cycling


For some bizarre reason I decided to enter a 20 mile Welsh Champs TT race. It was near Llyn Brenig, which is one of my favourite places thanks to Rally GB. It also involved some hills, which I apparently like going up at the minute.

On my recce ride last week it was blue skies, barely any wind, you could almost say it was a perfect day for Wales. Good enough for lots of photos! I fell in love with the route and couldn’t wait to race it.

From the photo-shoot with Ryan



The elation of surving a hard 20 miles!


Race day on the other hand had completely different circumstances. Rain. Wind. Just typical North Wales conditions really.

Brilliant. 

I got there before sign on was even suppose to open and I had no idea why. I couldn’t really warm up so there was nothing else I could do apart from wait for my start time. 

I thought I’d be fine in just a jersey, but decided to opt for a jacket instead last minute. Que rushed number swap from jersey to jacket…I may have pricked my fingers with the safety pins a few times!

I got to the start, then realised my Clif Energy blocks were still in the car.

Then to start I had a massive hill my legs just didn’t want to go up.

Becky, who rides for the Army, was so lovely! She went onto get 2nd so she had a mega ride!


It wasn’t exactly going as well as I’d planned. All of the other girls passed me not far off the start line and I felt like a bit of a numpty.

Why on earth did I think I’d be able to do this race?

My fitness was lower than it could be, certainly lower than it use to be. 

The further around I got, the more frustrated with myself I got.

Gosh I sound dramatic…ha!

Whilst I was trying to get use to tri bars, I had no idea if I was holding up any of the guys behind me. Before starting I joked the now National Champ would probably overtake me, and towards the end I was starting to think he would, despite starting half an hour after me. I tried to sprint up the final hill to the finish line, but my legs were having none of it. 

I crossed the finish line and my legs just burnt out.

I enjoyed pushing myself, but felt I could have given it more than I did. 

I loved being able to descend and lean into the corners dotted around the Evo Triangle, even if I was battling with the wind.

How cool are these for race numbers though?


Thanks to Welsh Cycling and everyone else who was involved in organising such a great event. Everyone was so lovely, racers and organisers, despite a complete rookie turning up…ha! Coming from downhill where I’d get moaned at a fair bit for holding guys up on the trail, it was good not to get it in TT’s too. 

Also a big thanks to my brother for driving me there. I don’t think I would have been in any fit state to drive home after it otherwise. Apparently I looked white as a ghost after finishing, so we headed to the Llyn Brenig cafe for breakfast before heading home. Racer’s diet all the way…

Does anyone else when they have an all day breakfast make a bacon toastie with the bacon and toast? Nope, probably just me…ha!

Now into hill climb season…yikes!

Why so slow Lucy? Why so slow?


Swimming with Fishes

Swimming outside in the likes of lakes and meres has always been something I’ve wanted to do. After my failed attempt around this time last year, I’ve been working on my swimming ever since to try and conquer it. That and getting my body accustomed to being a bit cold!

Towards the end of this week I decided I wanted to try out my new Hubb wetsuit, which I bought a few weeks ago. Although this meant an early start to get to Manley Mere, I was curious to see how I’d get on.

Once kitted up it was a bit warmer than I’d expected. My hesitant first toe dip into the water, I didn’t feel the chill through my body I was expecting. It was actually quite pleasant. It was a little different when water started going through the zip of my wetsuit however! 


Since my last attempt, I’ve been working on my swimming quite a lot. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but that’s something I want to change. Especially after getting the Triathlon bug and now wanting to try an outdoors one. 

So I’m a much stronger swimmer now, surely I’ll be ok?

Yea…swimming in open water is so much different to swimming in a pool! You’ve not got a wall to kick off every 25m…

But I gave it my best shot. My goal of trying to get at least the first buoy tarnished my weeds getting stuck around my ankle. And my body deciding it didn’t like the constant swimming. 

After my little dilemma and standing at the edge of the lake with every part of me wanting to get back in. A lady who’d already been around the lake once offered to show me the ropes of outdoor swimming. Up until this point I’d only managed breast stroke, which is quite ironic as it has always been my weakest stroke. She pointed out front crawl was much easier to do than breast stroke in a wetsuit. 

I just struggled breathing out under water when I was swimming outside for some reason. So she got me doing breast stroke, but this time put my head under a few times to get used to it. 

And it worked! 

All of a sudden I was doing front crawl. Granted, not very far, but still, we had progress. I’d not come away from there a complete failure.

On first arriving, I couldn’t have felt more of a newbie with the amount of Iron Man tattoos around. But thanks to the lady who showed me the ropes, I couldn’t wait to go back. 

I wanted to swim for longer, but thought it was best to end on a high and go back again soon. Especially now I have more of an idea what I’m doing. The morning’s antics had completely tired me out, so I was glad Ryan was there to get me home! 

South Wales Valleys


Despite being a week off, this week has been a whirlwind of being busy! There was always something that needed doing. With that being said, it felt good to switch off for an hour and get out on my MTB. Something I’m not doing a great deal of lately.
I even got to tick off somewhere I’ve wanted to ride for so long…Bike Park Wales. It’s just somewhere I’ve not managed to get to. I wasnMt up for doing anything gnarly. I just wanted to pedal. To be outside and just think of what lay ahead of me. 
However, their network of trails is possibly one of the most complicated I’ve seen. I looked at their map and thought…yeah I’ll just see where the blue signs take me. So I’m not actually sure how I got to the top!

I must admit I was expecting it to be more like Llandegla with lots of XC loops, as well as some downhill tracks thrown into the mix. But it is very much more downhill focused, from my experience anyway. 


The ride up was lengthy and before I knew it after getting to the top, I was at the bottom. Perfect descents for an uplift I guess!

But as I’ve already said, I did want to just go for a pedal. With a Welsh National Time Trial I’ve decided to enter in a few weeks, I need to fit in as much pedalling as I can!

The climb up was good. I’m so used to the gravel tracks at Llandegla, it was nice to ride up some forest ascents for a change. After it was recommended to me by some lovely female mountain bikers, I decided to ride down Terry’s Belly. It was also the longest descent. 

It was a good choice.

It’s far from what I use to ride, but it was just berm after berm after berm. It was a good route to do with:

A) Being on my hardtail

B) Riding alone

Some guys did catch up to me on the way down however, so it was reassuring to not be completely on my own on the descent!

It felt so quiet at Bike Park Wales, I almost forgot it was a Saturday. I’m guessing the uplift was busier!


Despite the confusion on what trail I needed to follow to get to the top (and make sure I stayed on the Blue!), I got to the bottom with a smile on my face. I felt strong on the climbs now I was back on my hardtail. I bet the Juliana Strega I tried a few weeks back through Alf Jones Cycles would have been amazing! 

The British Way of Thinking

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Being typically British…we moan…a lot! Conversations will contain something negative and we’ll soon find ourselves absorbed into a negative way of thinking.

“This isn’t going the way I want”,

or

“I deserve this”.

Life generally isn’t going the way we planned.

But whilst lost in this bitter way of thinking, life is passing us by.

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We turn on the TV in the morning, instantly fed negative news stories where reporters find the most minute of things that are wrong with this world.

Yet all the great things go unpublished.

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Social media feeding our minds with ideal lives we haven’t got.

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But what have we got?

Exactly that.

Life.

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We can wake up each morning, whether that be to rain or sunshine, to live another day.

We may not all be travelling around the world.

We may not all be able to afford a CHANEL wardrobe.

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We may not feel we possess the ideal looks everyone admires to have.

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But what does everyone reading this have?

We have a life to fulfil. 

Fill full of laughing until you can’t breathe.

Fill full of laying around when the sky turns from a sunset to become full of stars.

Fill full of doing rather than overthinking the ‘what ifs’ first.

Change “What can I do today” to “what can I do for someone else today?”.

Not being so quick to pass judgement when you don’t know the full story. It never truly boosts your self-confidence does it?

Sticking to what you love and not changing to conform to the majority, so wear last season’s clothes because they make you feel good about yourself.

Wear the outfit that’s a little bit ‘out-there’, which has been sitting on your private Pinterest board for months.

Try everything out of your comfort zone, because what have you really got to lose? You might decide to put it on the “Not a Fan’ list or find your newest obsession.

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Whatever life we have been give, it’s important to make the most of it. Cliche, but it’s true.

Review: Juliana Strega


It was certainly odd jumping onto the Strega. You know the familiarity you get from jumping onto your own bike – how it will respond and where to put your weight. Despite having never ridden the Strega before, or any Juliana bike for that matter, I felt comfortable and confident on it.


The Rockshox Lyrik fork & Super Deluxe shock were set up for my weight, so it felt good to not be battling with a coil over various terrain. Air suspension is definitely one of my favourite developments in mountain bikes as I’ve never been able to put the weight behind coil suspension and use it to it fullest.


The SRAM Eagle drivetrain was something to get use to. I’m so use to being able to change up and down the cassette quickly, that I needed to remember I only had a single chain ring on the front and a big cassette to go through on the rear. The Eagle did however help get up the long climb Lundy took us up on our demo ride. 



The Rockshox Reverb dropper post was another thing to get use to, since I’ve not got one on my own mountain bike. I’d be going down descents with the seat still up, but the bike was still easy to handle. Granted, it was much easier to handle when the seat was down. There was enough space to move my weight around and the geometry only made this easier. It made the bike playful and this will have helped with its confidence boosting handling of the terrain. I did find the bike hard to get back onto on that long climb though if the seat was still up! (Short leg problems…)

After having a few dramas with SRAM brakes in the past (being a nightmare to maintain) I wasn’t sure how I would get on with them. I’ll admit, since changing to Shimano XT’s on my downhill bike I’ve been able to one finger brake. With my old Avid’s I couldn’t, and with the SRAM Code brakes on the Juliana I had the same issue. I just don’t seem to get on with the big levers on the SRAM brakes. Saying that, they were extremely powerful brakes. It was just the levers I couldn’t get on with.



As I said in my previous blog post, part of the ride was on terrain that was almost like a patchwork of slippy and grippy conditions. If by chance the bike was close to sliding out, it would soon bounce back onto the line you had chosen. It put the same smile on my face as my downhill bike does. The only difference was, this was a bike that would feel comfortable in a bike park as much as on a trail. With a bike this light, either was possible. 

I just wanted to keep riding it. 

The Strega just felt right. I’ve never previously got onto a bike that just seems to fit straight away. Even the handlebar width was spot on. The Strega I rode was at 770mm. I’ve always had to mess around with my bikes to get them to fit. I did a lot one Winter to my downhill bike to set it up right. I don’t think I’d need to change anything on the Strega.

Juliana Demo Day with Alf Jones Cycles

I’ve rarely heard of women-only demo days, but this is the approach Alf Jones Cycles have taken to allow their customers to try the vibrant Juliana range. With the new Strega on the list of bikes to demo, it was going to be one of the first chances to try out their 170mm travel bike. Yoga, food and coaching was also on the cards so it was definitely going to be a jam-packed day.

With the day based at One Giant Leap Llangollen, all of the bikes were racked at the top of the finish field on what was a gloomy start to the day. All of the women got set up with the bike they wished to demo and the day kicked off with some coaching off Ally from Campbell Coaching. 


I was lucky enough to get one of two small Strega’s, which was launched recently. However, having spent a lot more time on the road bike than mountain bike, I was unsure how I’d get on through the day. I was definitely happy to not be riding my hardtail with everyone on full suspension bikes. 


The Strega however became a real confidence booster. 

At half ten we made our way over to the skills area, which is hidden away in the woods at One Giant Leap, Llangollen. Ally started from the bottom up by making sure everyone’s feet were level when descending on trail with a slight gradient. She highlighted where to put your weight in different situations as well as going off small drops with ease. Her main focus was ensuring everyone was in control of the bike they were riding and not the bike being in control of them. 


Everyone was making their way down the trail multiple times to try and get better each time, so much so we were nearly late for the uplift. 

Now hands up who is the worst for faffing? I most certainly am guilty for that and that there was plenty going on before our ride out on the Juliana’s. I had to pick up a bag as I didn’t put a bottle cage onto the Juliana. Making sure I had enough bug spray on. Checking a million times my bag was shut. Ha!


The ride I’m talking about is a guided route from Andy Lund alongside Ally Campbell on the bridelways near the Llangollen downhill tracks. I couldn’t tell you exactly where we went, purely due to the fact of me not knowing, but I can tell you there were some descents that came as a surprise. You would turn off country lanes and all of a sudden find yourself on crazy descents that you could possibly find at Revolution Bike Park (just slightly less gnarly). I just seemed to get on with it on board the Strega. No second guessing something. I focussed on a line and the Strega stuck to it. Every time I thought it was going to spin out, the Strega would bounce back straight to keep me on my line. 


The Strega was a confidence booster and made it feel like I’d been regularly riding mountain bikes for weeks, which I’d definitely not been doing.

The route popped out into various villages, even on part of the Chirk Triathlon route, then swerve off onto dirt tracks that would soon become almost singletrack. Small rock slabs turning the trail into a patchwork of slippy and grippy conditions. You had to play poker in terms of where you put your tyres. 

Then there was a rather large climb.


And I mean large.

The Strega had been getting up previous climbs fine, especially as I had the use of a dropper post. A dropper post I kept forgetting to drop mind thanks to not having one on my mountain bike. It’s just something I’ve never had to think about! I still managed to get down the odd descent ok with the seat still up. 

The long climb was like a rain damaged fire road up onto some moors, with baby pheasants running round everywhere. I never really thought there was a difference between mountain bike fitness and road bike fitness. There’s definitely a difference. So the rather long climb and my struggles to conquer it were more down to my lack of mountain bike fitness.

So I survived and managed to get to the top of the hill. Lundy informed me the Strega is more of a bike you have to just power up to the top on. Short climbs it still felt incredibly efficient, but I was struggling up that extremely long climb! I suppose using it to go up familiar climbs, I would maybe see the difference.  

Thankfully the long climb made way for a long descent. I got arm pump on the descent, but I didn’t feel like I was battling with the bike at all. The benefits of air suspension I guess! And a carbon bike. And an up to date bike…ha!


We made our way back to the finish field of the downhill tracks with stomach’s rumbling due to it being past 3 o’clock, so food was first on the cards before anything else. Very good food at that. No BBQ in site, but lots of pasta and wraps containing food all colours of the rainbow. I ate way too much, but I was just so hungry!



There was a chance to go up the hill on the uplift, but I was way to tired to try out the Strega on the downhill tracks. Some of the girls tried the final drops, but I knew I needed to stop riding. 

There was still yoga off Bodhi Movements to finish off the day. Doing which, I realised I needed to do yoga more often.


Thankfully the day turned from a gloomy start to a sunny Sunday evening where yoga on mats in a field just felt good to do. 


I was so tired at the end of the day, but had finally got the chance to see what the Juliana hype was all about. Thank you to everyone who was helping out on the day! I’d recommend any future demo days by Alf Jones Cycles in the future!

Why not drop them a vote in the Cycling Weekly ‘Britain’s Best Bike Shop‘ poll?

British National TT Championships, Isle of Man

It’s sometimes the shorter the trip is, the more you remember. You still try to squeeze as much in, but you’re still determined to go back.

No sooner was I being thrown back into my seat at the start of the runway at Liverpool Airport, I was landing in the Isle of Man. That little island in the middle of the Irish Sea. The sea water as blue as anything, and country lanes winding through the rolling fields. It takes us 20 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. Specifically to … where the British National TT Championships were being held. Ryan was racing and I was just there to wander around with my camera.

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Waiting for his race slot was tense. He was helping the now National TT Champion, Claire Rose, by going in her team car at midday. But he still had the rest of the day to try and occupy himself because it wasn’t like he could even go and ride his bike.

I was stupidly in the Isle of Man without my bike, which is the worst mistake anyone could make by the way! The U23 girls were set up on Turbo-Trainers to warm-up. The women were sorting their race kit. It took me back to when I raced downhill. It made me miss racing…a lot. Maybe I’ll find some Time-Trials that aren’t on Dual Carriageways to try…

The day passed with the results racking up:

Women’s National Champion: Claire Rose

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U23 Women’s National Champion: Anna Christian

U23 Men’s National Champion: Scott Davies

There was only the men’s race left now.

With part of the course going along the coast, that’s where I decided to head. I couldn’t really do much at race HQ so I thought I may as well go and take some photos when Ryan is racing. There was the small task of the 4 mile walk there though. I suppose I could have ran it but without running trainers and a camera in my bag…that wouldn’t have been the best idea!

I’d walked quite away when I asked one of the marshals which was the quickest way to the coast road. They pointed me in the right direction, but then offered to drive me there. Lifesavers! So at the coast much quicker than anticipated, I just needed to find a decent spot to photograph the riders. A tip to myself for next time I’m doing this? Wear more appropriate shoes/clothes. Shorts weren’t the best idea for walking through long grass…

I may also end up on TV in my bright yellow Timberland jacket…o dear!

I managed to find a good spot on a bend called ‘Devil’s Elbow’ and was waiting for Ryan to come past. For some random reason I’d got it in my head his start time was 19.07. It was actually 18.54, so you can imagine me trying to rush to press the shutter when he came past earlier than I’d expected! Thankfully I still managed to get some photos.

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The hour he was racing was possibly the most tense I had been for a while. The two times he came past (they were doing two laps of the one lap course the women did) I couldn’t figure out whether he felt good on the bike or was struggling.

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It was a good while before I knew how he’d got on as well with the signal being touch and go on the island. Once he’d come past the second time, I made my way back to the race HQ, which I had to walk this time. It was a pretty long walk with a camera in my bag, but surprisingly I didn’t get lost. My memory of certain roads must be getting better!

When I finally got back to the race HQ I found he’d finished the course in 1 hour 4 minutes, which was exactly the time he wanted to achieve. What a relief! Steve Cummings became the National Champion with a time of 57 minutes and 18 seconds.

We then had the task of finding food at 9 o’clock at night, which isn’t as easy as it sounds! Even the chip shops were shut, but thankfully a Chinese was still open. We clearly have strong athlete diets…ha!

Look out for my next blog post where we explored Peel before having to head back on the ferry (boo!).

Where did all of the trees go?

So those bikes with spongy forks and knobbly tyres do still exist. Those things called mountain bikes! With my exams out the way I can finally have my life back. 


Saturday morning was the first time I’d got out of a car at Llandegla to be hit by hot and not cold temperatures, and there was a fairly big group of us to get to the top!

A steady climb to the top was followed by a few surprised faces. The trees had gone! No longer is there a tree lined start to the descent, but instead open hillside scattered with tree stumps. With it being such a clear day, it opened up a new view from the top that was pretty special. It did mess with my head though…I couldn’t figure out which part of the trail I was on .


It was such a relaxed ride where I could catch up with everyone. There were new faces on the ride and familiar faces I had a lot of catching up to do with! I always feel guilty for not seeing them more, but nothing ever changes when I do see them! Apart from the fact one has a super cute baby, who I hope is enjoying their first Father’s Day. And the loveliest couple ever having lots of holidays planned. With one of those holidays being Whistler…I’m a little jealous!

We would sometimes spilt up to do different sections of trail, but meeting up at the cafe to have burgers meant we could re-group again. For £6.95, the BBQ is a bargain as not only is there quality meat (I’m sure there’s veggie options too!) you can pile your plate with salad. On busy weekend days, there’s less waiting for your food too. It’s a no brainer really. 


This is only a short post, but how can you not write about such a beautiful day? I could catch up with friends and my brother. It was just overall a good day and what mountain biking should be. Friends and fun times. However, Ryan’s morning ride wasn’t so stress free after breaking a spoke. Luckily it happened in Llandegla village, so I could give home a lift home!


I hope you all had a lovely weekend and didn’t get some rather dodgy tan lines like me! Including some elbow pads tan lines and a white X on my back. For the places I did remember to put sun cream on though, the Nivea Protect and Refresh sun spray worked really well. And it was only Factor 20!