#GirlsAtLlandegla

Girls at Llandegla Poster final promo

This idea has been circulating around my head for a while. The more I come across #GirlsAtMoelfre photos by chance on my phone, the more I want to organise another event…so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I wanted to get everything in place before I announced it, but then #GirlsAtMoelfre developed more as an event the closer it got to the big weekend. I wanted to be 100% sure on what I wanted the event to be about. Obviously girls having fun riding their bikes, but I wanted it to have a bit more about it too.

After this video popped up in my timeline this weekend, I guess I could say it just clicked. (Excuse the language in the video mind if little eyes are reading this!)

I want it to be an event for all ages. Where we can all encourage each other to ride bikes in a relaxed environment.

We’ll split into groups and go and ride the trails at Llandegla. No set pace, just choose whatever trail you’re comfortable riding. If your a beginner you can come and have a go. Even if you’re a seasoned racer, why not come and just enjoy a laid back day on your bike? With it being on the 31st March, hopefully it’s before your season has kicked off!

Take advice from another Russel Howard video…and make memories. Maybe grab a few photos, but most importantly just enjoy it.

I had no idea Russell Howard was making this new TV programme, but right now I can’t respect him more!

So what happens after we ride bikes? We’ll go and have a good chinwag in the cafe at Llandegla (in the ‘Classroom’ if you’re wanting to be specific!). We’ll have a panel of female cyclists leading the discussion. Like Loose Women but for cycling…ha!

Since we’re all just riding around the trails, if you want to just come for a ride around the trails, then this will be completely free (after paying for parking at Llandegla that is!). As I’m hoping to get some big names to the talk, I’ll be selling tickets for it closer to the time once I get an idea for numbers. I expect tickets will be roughly £10 and all of that money will go to Help for Heroes. I’ll re-release the #GirlsAtLlandegla with the Help For Heroes Logo on it…I’m just waiting on the registration of the the event with them to go through!

Fancy coming along? Register for your free ticket by following this link -> #GirlsAtLlandegla

 

 

Clocking up the Miles to Pass the Time

When Lucy said she was doing a Breeze course in Bangor, I thought that sounded like a great idea to go with her and enjoy a nice ride in Snowdonia as I waited for her.After it was planned I then found out that the course was running 9.00-17.00.

I now had a lot of time to fill, so I foolishly decided to go and ride 100 miles.
Lucy had started her course and I was left to faff about and get ready to ride. Heavy rain didn’t make me hugely enthusiastic about the idea though. Eventually the rain stopped and I thought this was my window. I headed out to Llanberis, which was the first major climb of the day, the Pen-y-Pass. Spray off the road made it impossible to stay dry.


The Pen-y-Pass is a fairly enjoyable climb. It reels you in with a nice gentle gradient at first before properly kicking up towards the summit. At the foot of the climb the weather looked to be improving, so I had removed my waterproof and gloves, only to layer back up for the cold and foggy descent. I shot down the other side through the fog and intermittent rain showers into Betws-y-Coed and then onto the next, and hardest, climb of the day.


The small village of Trefriw isn’t known for much, but it’s where the climb of the Old Cowlyd starts. This bit of road is insane, its been described as the hardest climb in the UK. While the Pen-y-Pass starts gently, the Cowlyd delivers a sucker punch from the outset. 

Have you ever climbed something so steep your feet hurt? 

Well that’s what the Cowlyd has in store. The almost relentless gradient eases off slightly about halfway (but not enough to leave your easiest gear) and then you hit the hairpins. All 8 of them back to back and incredibly steep. Never have I wanted a climb to end so badly. 

20 minutes of pain and suffering later I finally made it to the top.

Now it was the short ride back to Betws and onto the Crimea Pass, which would take me to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Crimea is one of the few wide roads in the area and again starts out fairly steady with a few kicks, until you get to the last mile which really hurts. About half way up the heavy rain returned. Rain heavy enough to cause a car to loose traction and almost spin a full 360 degrees right in front of me. This ride was turning out to be quite eventful to say the least.


If climbing the Crimea was bad the decent was even worse. It was cold and wet with the rain drops like tiny bullets hitting my face.

Yet I was stubborn enough to have the Stwlan Dam as the next thing to tackle.

This dead end service road is closed to traffic and takes you up to the Dam at the top. The road snaked up the mountain with hairpins thrown in for good measure.


It was such a relief to find there was a cafe near the bottom. The kind ladies in there took pity on the drenched cyclist and made me an extra strong coffee and served up my order of egg and beans on toast in no time at all. I threw the food down my throat and then tried to warm up and dry out some of my kit.


After warming up a bit and plucking up the courage to continue, I set off but only to find myself cold again!

Now on the lumpy road to Beddgelert, the further I went the nicer the weather got. However, from Beddgelert I was riding on the long drag up to Rhyd-Ddu, which isn’t the steepest of roads really.


With fresh legs it’s hardly anything. But with legs battered by 2000m of climbing over the 77 miles I’d ridden? It hurt and went on forever.

After that it was over to Caernarfon and along the coastal cycle path back to Bangor. I was glad for a bit of flat riding as every little hill struck pain into my legs.


I got to Bangor with 96 miles on my Garmin, and although I was very tired, I couldn’t stop that close to the full 100. So after a couple of laps around some random streets I finished up at the university to find Lucy sat in the car having just finished her course. Not bad timing really.

Where to Cycle when it gets Cold…

Now into October, we’ve definitely all felt the temperatures drop. Not only is getting out of your nice warm bed for work a bit more difficult, but so is getting up to go and ride your bike. So, where’s best to cycle when the weather gets cold?

1.Your local trail centre

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Now I know many mountain bikers who avoid trail centres now just out of principle. It’s not ‘real’ mountain biking apparently. BUT these trails do have a cafe (more often than not) at the start and the end of your loop. So, surely a trail centre is a no brainer in the middle of winter right? And with the trails being accessible to the masses, the kids can come along too!

2. Pump Track

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Many use the ‘off-season’ whether they’re pro or not to work on their skills for next year, so pump tracks can be a god-send. Pump tracks can help improve your cornering, jumping skills and how you maintain your speed on the trails. If your local pump track isn’t too water logged, why not give it a go?

3. Velodrome Taster Session

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You might be a die-hard roadie or mountain biker, but never both right? Well I’m both and open for trying new things. I did exactly that last Summer when I tried my hand at riding round the Velodrome in Manchester. It’s inside…it’s warm…and we could explore Manchester after. Just one pointer, if you’re finding somewhere to park and you pull into a car park full of Audi R8’s and Ferrari’s…the ticket will be quite expensive ha!

Every bike ride doesn’t have to be a big expedition into the hills, on road bike or mountain bike, it can simply be along a canal or on fire roads through a forest. It makes snuggling up with a hot chocolate afterwards all that more satisfying.

Need ideas? Look no further

Have any more genius ideas for riding in colder weather? Feel free to comment below or on my social media posts!

I’m sure it will be a breeze…

Since becoming part of the steering group with Welsh Cycling to make cycling more popular amongst young people, I thought a good place to start would be to become a Breeze ride leader.

But what does this mean?

Saturday morning came and I dragged Ryan out of bed way too early and we made the trip along the North Wales coast to Bangor University. We could have had worse road trips to make I guess! Look out for Ryan’s post soon on the 100 miles he covered whilst I was on the course. Not forgiving miles either, miles on the roads of Snowdonia.

Working my way around the maze that is Bangor University, I finally found the room full of the other women on the course. I signed in and met our course tutor, Zoe, and got to know the other women.

The group had a wide variety of cyclists, from those who race, those who cycle socially, to those who cycle for fitness. We spoke about what we think makes up a good Breeze Champion, which is someone who is approachable and encouraging. Someone who is positive and will give those maybe trying cycling for the first time, good memories that will keep them cycling in the future.

From organising Girls at Moelfre, I’ve already seen the benefits cycling can have on people’s lives. How memories stick and are fondly looked back upon. I might not be riding mountain bikes all that much at the minute, but I’ve come to realise it doesn’t matter what bike I’m riding. It’s the fact I’m out and appreciating the great outdoors all the while. I’m also planning on doing my Level 2, so I can lead mountain bike rides too though!

We had a bit of theory to cover, such as organising a group of women on the road to keep them safe, but we were soon out on our bikes doing the practical side of the course. This was to show that we could safely manage a group of women on a Breeze ride. With the hilly roads that surrounded us everywhere in Bangor, this was particularly interesting trying to pull out of a junction whilst clipping into my pedals!

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Making our way back into the classroom, we were thankfully not too wet from the rain that fell outside. It was more of a drizzle than a downpour. We covered risk assessments of rides and how to go about planning a ride. We spoke about what made

our cycling routes enjoyable with Zoe highlighting that it’s not just the mileage you need to consider, but how to create a route that is enjoyable.

Despite my nerves before going into the course, it’s something I will always be glad I took the time to do. I’ve been cycling for a while and started this blog to hopefully portray cycling as the amazing sport it is. Now I can be a bit more pro-active in encouraging people into the sport and all the benefits it brings.

If a Breeze ride sounds interesting to you, or you know a lady who might consider it, make sure you keep checking back here for my first Breeze ride. As soon as I get a First Aid Certificate, I’ll get my Breeze rides up and running which will be completely free to come along to.

Welsh Crit Champs 2017

What does it look like from distance? 

A group of people riding round a circuit in a set time plus 5 laps. The first person to cross the line after those 5 laps wins….

Ok, so I’m not selling that one very well. Hopefully I can do better if you read on.

Welsh Crit Champs wasn’t my first ever Crit race, but I’m certainly not an expert at it. I’d done a few ‘races’ where I actually just ended up being in the men’s race and consequently riding round on my own. There was one women’s race, but the circuit felt way too small for the amount of riders on it, but Welsh Crit Champs was most certainly different to all of those.

It was a circuit around the showground in Builth Wells (so a great size for racing!) and they had a women’s race with 11 competitors. I actually had someone to race against…winner.

Granted, those competitors were much stronger than an amateur like me, but still…the best I could do was try right?

If it’s not already obvious, Welsh Crit Champs was another spur of the moment entry. It sounded good at the time and I threw an entry in before they closed. 

Turning up, Welsh Cycling branding was everywhere (as would probably be expected) and lots of ‘team’ kits. I felt a bit out of place without team kit, but I am rather fond of my ASSOS shorts and Threo jersey combo right now…

Fashion choices aside…I needed to decide whether I’d actually sign on. It really felt like I was coming down with some sort of bug. A bug that actually turned out to be nerves.

I cast aside feeling unwell and decided to just get on with it. I had dragged Ryan all this way afterall…

With a few laps round the track to warm up, I soon found myself trying to keep up with the girls in my race. I quickly decided I was out of my depth. 


But…then I did actually manage to keep up with a small group of girls. We were sort of working as a team to get round, but with my lack of road knowledge, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. Basically, everyone is suppose to take a turn on the front to ride into the wind, whilst the others sit on your tail. Taking turns is suppose to be quicker and less exhausting than riding alone.

40 minutes of trying to figure out what everyone else’s tactics were, my head had turned to mush. Yet, I still had the 5 extra laps to go before the finish!

A bad move by me which meant I finished the race leading the group around for two laps also meant I didn’t finish where I wanted to. Yet I still had great fun out there. It felt good to have girls to race against and push past mental barriers I’ve not been able to push past before. 

With all of the negative press cycling seems to be getting at the minute, it was great to see so many girls enjoying the sport still. Hopefully only more will come to enjoy it as much as I do.

#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!