Improving Climbing Ability in Road Cycling

A cyclist and title 'Improving Climbing Ability in Road Cycling'

It’s something that is quite a common hurdle for newbie cyclists to get over in mountain biking and road cycling. When all I wanted to do was race down the mountain bike trails when I was younger, the hills in between them would certainly stop me in my tracks. So I thought I would highlight a few things that have helped me improve climbing up hills. Dare I say it, but I actually enjoy it now.


When ego’s are flying round on group rides you’ll tend to find the group stays together at fairly high speeds, but when it comes to hills the group falls apart. One thing that took me quite a long time to learn is pacing. That going steady and at your pace is the best thing you can do. Your body is ticking along at a steady pace all whilst making progress up the hill in question. You might have people speed past you and if they’re experienced cyclists you’ll probably not see them again on your ride. However, if they happen to be naive when it comes to climbing hills, you’ll probably find you’ll see them again some point up the hill hanging over their handle bars gasping for air.

The truth is if you go up a hill without stopping at your own pace, over time you’ll gradually get faster. Possibly without you even realising it. You’ve got to see the bigger picture, are you going to be much use if you burst out all of your energy on one climb on a ride, but then struggle to get home because you’re so tired? Hills take time and patience to get quicker at, so don’t stress about not being quick up them from the off-set.

Who You Ride With

That all lines me up fairly nicely for my next point, which is to look at who you’re riding with. Are they a lot stronger than you meaning you’re already tired by the time you get to those pesky hills? Having people to ride with at your own level means you can tackle those climbs together and spur each other on. It removes that stress of ‘oh they’re waiting ages for me to get to the top’.

A Positive Attitude

It sounds obvious, but it’s one thing you’re taught to pass on to any riders when you become a Breeze leader for British Cycling. Women are notorious for saying ‘sorry’ when they don’t feel good enough (sorry for any guys reading this). Don’t apologise for being what you feel is slow. You’re all out there keeping fit and getting your vitamin D, so what’s the stress?

You can fill your mind with ‘oh I don’t think I can do this’, or ‘just keep pedalling’. If you use the latter you’ll naturally see the difference it makes. I always find it’s often my mind that gives up before my body does.

Be Realistic

Having a positive mindset leads me onto the point of being realistic. Having a positive mind set alone going up a 35% climb probably isn’t really going to help. You have to be realistic with the climbs you want to tackle. Just take it steady and start off on hills with a steady gradient and gradually build it up to those steeper climbs.

When I was training for London Marathon (different sport I know) I kept my training really simple and broke it down to month by month. For example, I want to be able to run this distance by the end of the month. I did various races in the run up, such as a half-marathon, which acted as milestones in my journey to London. From a cycling perspective you can do something similar. Pick an event you’d like to do, for example a particularly hilly sportive and use that as your milestone. Pick an event you have enough time to train for and set a goal for each month in the run up to it. Some goal examples might be:

  • I want to ride X amount of hills in one ride
  • I want to ride a hill of X gradient by the end of July
  • I want to beat my time up X hill by the end of August

Setting goals that are easy to assess improvements against are the easiest goals to follow.

Bike Set Up

This goes for a lot of things in cycling really and something so many get wrong. You go to get your new bike and spend all your savings on it, but then can’t afford to get a decent bike fit. Bike shops might be able to get you the right size, but it’s important to find a bike shop or company which will help set it up correctly for you. A good bike fit can make sure you’re using all the correct muscles, be comfortable on the bike and in turn get up those hills!

After speaking to a Lead Bike Fitter at Boardman Performance, Bianca Broadbent, her slant on the subject of bike fits was to also add conditioning work/training in the cycling position into the equation. “Making sure the body (and machine) are strong is crucial to power up those climbs when you need to work at those lower cadences.” 

Under the umbrella of bike set-up also comes the concept of gearing. To put it simply:

  • More teeth at the back, less teeth on the front makes your gear ratio easier.
  • Less teeth on the back, more teeth on the front makes your gear ratio harder.

Generally bikes come with a compact chain set, which means you already have a lower climbing gear. However, some older bikes might not be set up this way. Your local bike shop should be able to help if you’re thinking about changing what gear ratio your bike has.


Prior to London Marathon I was notoriously bad for nutrition whilst out on my bike. I’d forget to drink or eat, then wonder why my body was resenting turning the pedals. It’s a fairly simple thing and one we all know, that for our bodies to work we need fuel. It’s not until you start to be mindful of nutrition when doing sport that you’ll start to see the difference. During London I was taking sips of water regularly, as well as other nutrition like Clif Shot Blocks and Clif Bars, but one of the biggest things was making sure I drink.

Since going back to cycling post-London Marathon it’s eye-opening now I’ve got improved nutrition habits. It also comes down to when you take that nutrition in as well. Eating half or all of a Clif bar right at the bottom of a climb is completely pointless as it won’t help you get up the hill at all. On a ride back at the start of the year when I knew a long (10 minute +) climb was coming I ate a Clif bar around 10 to 15 minutes before we got to it. That way, the bar was already being processes by my body by the time I got to the climb.

I’m not a nutritionist obvious, but I’m currently reading Training Food by Renee McGregor to improve my nutrition on and off the bike.

I hope these pointers help you on your mission to tackle those climbs that make a habit of popping up when we’re out cycling. We don’t need to worry about tackling them as fast as the pro’s just yet!


Cycling To Work: What’s In My Bag?

Picture of a saddle bag and title CYCLING TO WORK: What's in my bag?

Something encouraged by the Government at the moment, I thought I’d share some tips on cycling to work. It’s something I’ve done quite a bit of over the years, right back to when it was my only form of transport for jobs I had as a teenager. With the pandemic, cycling to work hasn’t been something I’ve done enough of. Work’s been a rollercoaster and when I return in a few weeks I actually can’t cycle to work, but that’s another story.

What’s in my bag?

Picture of Garmin, inner tube, bicycle pump, cycling lights, cycling lock and multi tool

Taking the right things on your commute can make all the difference in giving you peace of mind as you enjoy the fresh air on your way to work.

  • Lock

I can cycle to work with some sort of piece of mind when where I work isn’t open to the general public, but that doesn’t stop me having a good quality lock in my bag. To make things easier I loop it so it hangs off the outside of my bag. That way, I don’t have to take everything out of my bag when I get to work to find it.

  • Saddle bag

This is something I have on my bike regardless of if I’m cycling to work, or just in general. I tend to use my saddlebag for all my bike repair ‘bits n bobs’ because then I know exactly where they are. Like with how I attach my lock to the outside of my bag, it makes everything easy to access if something goes wrong with my bike. What I tend to keep in here is my multi-tool, tyre levers and an inner tube.

  • Multi-Tool

These can be useful for a multitude of things, but it depends how much you know about fixing your bike. Simply, you can have it on-hand in case you want to change your seat post height. For the more adventurous, you can adjust the gears if they start clicking away and just generally not working as they should.

  • Spare Inner Tube,

Punctures are sometimes just unavoidable, but it shouldn’t put you off cycling to work. Some people like to repair the inner tube, but for speed I put a new inner tube in instead and put the punctured one back in my bag/pocket.

Now, choosing the right inner tube isn’t always as easy as it seems. So there’s a few questions you might find useful:

Do you have a road bike or a mountain bike? Depending on which, type *bike type* inner tube into the internet.

What wheel size do you have? With something like a mountain bike this is pretty straight forward, eg. 27.5″ or 29″. With a road bike it might seem a little less obvious, but whatever the bike it will say on the side of the tyre what wheel size and inner tube size is required. On my road bike it says 700x25c on the tyre wall, which translates into needing an inner tube of that name.

You can try the Internet for these, but your local bike shop will be able to help you choose the right inner tube too. It’s also worth looking to puncture resistant tyre. No tyre is completely puncture proof, but it’s sometimes worth spending a little more on a high quality tyre to get you to work on time.

  • Tyre Levers & Pump

Some die-hard cyclists will be like “I don’t need tyre levers”, but sometimes they’re just useful. I might do a post on inner tube repairs, but there’s probably lots on YouTube already! Tyre levers and a pump obviously go hand in hand when it comes to getting your tyre back to the correct pressure and you cycling again.

  • Pre-Planned Route

Possibly more something on my handlebars than in any bag, but definitely a must. My route to work is fairly straight forward, but involves country lanes with lots of junctions. So when I’m tired after a shift at work, it’s nice to know I can rely on my Garmin to get me home…ha!

  • Light

A light on the front and back of your bike can help no end when it comes to being seen by other road users. My rule of thumb is to always have a red light on the back of my bike, then when it’s dark outside I’ll pop a light on the front of my bike too. I also tend to avoid buying black or dark coloured cycling kit.

The light shown is from Exposure. I find it perfect for riding to work as it isn’t too bulky, but then packs enough power to clearly light the road in front of me.

A bicycle and a Sprocker puppy

I’m aware not everyone will be lucky enough to have country lanes to get them to work, but Bethan from suggests using City Mapper. She says “it can help you find quiet ways you might not have thought of before”.

If you tend to use your phone for route mapping, then fitness blogger Elle Linton suggests investing in a Quadlock. This is a handlebar mount and phone case duo, that help make fixing your phone to your handlebars a lot easier. She says “she spent months trying to hold my phone in my hand whilst riding!”.

Helen from 1vision2girls says to “pack your bag the night before” to eliminate ate the risk of forgetting anything! Helen also leaves an extra 15 minutes on her commute time to allow for any dramas like roadworks or traffic lights on route.

The Fit Londoner leaves a wash bag and work clothes at work if she can, so she’s carrying as little as possible. She suggests to “do a recce of your route on a weekend, especially if you’re not used to cycling on roads or following a GPS”.

Lisa Thake, from Fat Girl Fit, always double-checks her lights are charged for her commute to work as well as the commute home. Most importantly, she says to “be safe and be seen”.


Surviving my First Training Camp

Cycling, Mallorca

You should all know by now that I like throwing myself in at the deep end. Like entering a triathlon without actually being able to swim. Not a runner, but enter London Marathon on a whim. Well this time it was joining a RAF Cycling training camp in Mallorca with next to no training all over winter. A civilian thrown into the military way of doing things. This should be interesting…

On arriving at the hotel there was no kicking back and relaxing, but a flurry of bike building followed by a familiarisation ride. It was only 12 miles, but my head still turned to mush when I was suddenly riding in a group of 20 riders. I didn’t realise how much I’d got used to riding on my own, or in a small group.

When Tuesday came, in true Ryan Morley Coaching style, things were kicked off with an FTP test. This was fine for most, except I’d ridden at way above my FTP on the way there…too busy chatting when I was meant to be riding easy. Note to self: You’re meant to be on a training camp, Lucy, wise up.

Cycling, Mallorca

By the time I got to the Col de Femenia everyone had gone off at their own pace and I had no idea where I was meant to start, so just ended up riding hard(ish) for 20 minutes. The ‘focus’ I normally have at races just wasn’t up for turning up that day, so I just gritted through it for 20 minutes. I must have tried relatively hard though, because apparently I rode past Coryn Rivera on the way down but didn’t even notice. You know, the professional cyclist who is the reason I bought a Liv bike in the first place…

Legs snookered already we made our way over to Gran Cafe 1919 in Pollenca, which is a firm favourite of Ryan’s. Last time I was there, Ryan got me to try one of their famous hot chocolates. Unfortunately there was no hot chocolate for me this time, but an amazing club sandwich instead. With a metabolism like mine, I needed to basically eat like a Tour de France rider all week if I was going to survive it. It was at the cafe I found out about the chain gang we’d be doing on the way back to the hotel. Chain gangs were not something I was familiar with…yikes!

Cycling, Mallorca

On what everyone knew as the Marshes road things quickly sped up. Suddenly I was trying to find some extra capacity in my lungs and power in my legs in order to not get dropped as we were steaming along at 25mph. Everything got very quick very…well…quickly. One minute I was pushing hard on the front, next thing I was desperately trying to hang onto the back. A continuous rotation of hell. I had no clue how far we had left on this never-ending road. It was only for one of the girls shouting out, “nearly there!”, that I found one last burst of energy. Then just like that, everyone sat up. Thank god I thought as my body tried to recover in some roundabout way. It was almost like when you wake up from a rather bizarre dream and wonder what the hell just happened. That was a day when I hung my bike up on the rack and ran…ha.

Wednesday was the day I was looking forward to most and I tried to keep my chimp, Matilda, at bay. Which reminds me, I really need to read the Chimp Paradox again at some point. Wednesday was Sa Calobra day, which was a climb that was a massive achievement for me back in 2018. Back then it was difficult to turn the pedals as the 5.8 mile climb got steeper. It was when Ryan stomped the pedals and went off ahead whilst I just chugged along stubborn enough to just get to the top without stopping.

Cycling, Mallorca

This time I was with one of the other RAF Cycling girls as we started off together, but it quickly became clear it was a climb that required your own headspace. Despite having my legs battered the day before I seemed to find my rhythm.

Mallorca Cycling Training Camp

So far it had been a rather eye-opening trip just purely down to the fact my anxiety seemed to ease. My bike went off on the conveyor belt at the airport and I just dropped it off and went to security no bother. I was fairly chill during the flight and the landing wasn’t an issue. I wasn’t use to my brain not kicking off at just about anything. I just took it all in my stride.

Despite all of the things that had been filling my head for the past weeks and months, I was taking the beauty of the scenery in. It had been a long time since I just lived in the moment. My attitude at the time was that what happens, happens. But this right now, climbing up Sa Calobra in the sun, was what life was about.

I remember the point where Ryan had ridden back to me 2 years ago, but I knew he was just a bit further up the climb taking photos on the Corkscrew part of the climb. It was fortunate he was there really, because I had no clue where the official peak of the climb was. Passing the top of the climb where the scenery opened up onto more mountainous views, I was slightly tired but getting up the climb had given me a massive boost. I didn’t even need to check Strava to know that I’d gone up it quicker than 2018, but if I’m honest that wasn’t something I was too bothered about. I got a bit emotional back at the Orange Seller, but thankfully the mirrored lens on my glasses hid that.

After a hug off Ryan, we made our way back to the ‘Petrol Station’ for food. If you’ve only ever ridden in the UK, you’d probably think we were mad going to a petrol station for food, but it’s a petrol station come cafe. Your just sat there at the top of some pretty amazing climbs eating a baguette like there’s not a problem in the world. You get carried away chatting before you realise you’ve sat still in the sun for a little too long. From here we followed a winding decent to Selva, which made me realise my descending on a road bike is rather awful right now. Something I need to work on I guess.

71 miles later, that was the longest ride I’d done since the last time I was in Mallorca. That time I thought it was a good idea to do Sa Calobra and Puig Major in one ride. I was obviously feeling it, but it was such a huge achievement for me. The RAF Cycling group I was riding with were incredibly patient. I hope I didn’t hold them up too much.

Mallorca Cycling Training Camp

How I was meant to get on my bike the next day I don’t know. I was expecting my body to be a bit worse for wear already, but I’d found some endurance from somewhere. And well…there was cake half way round Thursday’s ride, so I was naturally not going to miss that ride was I. Saying that, maybe it was more FOMO than endurance…ha.

This ride was different to what I had experienced so far in Mallorca. Mallorca to me so far had been a lot of ‘up’. This ride was more comparable to the Cheshire lanes I was familiar with. Granted I was still surrounded by views of the mountains, 30 degree heat and blue skies, but hopefully you get my drift. It was rolling with a sharp climb in the middle somewhere on the way there. Then we rolled into a traditional Spanish village for the most amazing cake and surprisingly Fanta rather than coffee. I felt like I was going against everything linked to being a cyclist, but the speedy pace of riding made this girl thirsty. And let’s face it, Fanta always tastes better abroad.

Mallorca Cycling Training Camp

With now around 150 miles in my legs, I was waiting for my body to turn round and just be like nope, no more. Luckily Friday was the Recovery Ride day that meant I could actually ride easy. Until I deciding to get a bit too keen and drop 600 watts to do my turn on the front, which was fab when I was the one saying I might do my recovery ride on my own so I could ride at my own ‘slow’ pace. Nice one, Lucy.

Not one to sit by the pool for too long, come the afternoon and back at the hotel after our recovery ride, we were playing a very competitive game of mini-golf. 9 holes made of concrete, there were golf balls flying everywhere. I somehow scored a hole in one on the most difficult hole, so I was slightly smug about that.

Mallorca Cycling Training Camp

Saturday had been at the back of my mind all week. I knew this was the day one group would do a 100 mile ride ascending three Monastery climbs. A ride I’d secretly wanted to do whilst in Mallorca, even if it was the only one I did. Not feeling as confident as I did in Belgium to ride on my own, it’s a ride that’s still on my Cycling Bucket List. With no racing going on, I’m hoping I can still tackle a 100 mile ride at home though.

Despite not going on the Monasteries ride, we still did a pretty epic ride to the top of Randa. The views were uninterrupted and I got a bit excited for all of the Instagram photos I could take. It was just something you wouldn’t get anywhere else. A cafe set in the most amazing Spanish architecture. Fashion magazines must have done photoshoots there at some point, and if they haven’t they should.

Randa, Mallorca

It was this point I was starting to feel it in my legs. My Clif bars and shot blocks were slowly starting to become something I relied on to keep my legs turning. It was a long ride back for me. My legs were starting to hurt, but I’ve come to realise once I let myself think I’m tired that’s when it all falls apart. That’s when my body gives up. I didn’t want to be the rider that made everyone stop.

Another Mallorca climb achieved, it was clear their climbs were on another level, but then I guess that ride back in Wales was a beast too…

Randa, Mallorca

I didn’t know it at the time, but Randa ended up being my last proper ride in Mallorca and I’d somehow clocked 318 miles. My biggest weekly mileage on my bike had previously been 150 miles, so it’s safe to say it was quite a big jump up from what I was use to. I’ve said it so many times that the marathon changed my perception on how long I  can sustain exercising for, but Mallorca proved to me that I can ride a lot further than I thought. Even at high-speeds. Yes, it helped being out in the heat and riding my racing bike, but I can’t wait to get back to riding in the UK now my approach to riding might be slightly different. It doesn’t have to be one cafe stop. I can even look for little village shops to stop at. All of the places I’ve wanted to ride to for ages now seem a little bit more achievable.

As a civilian in a group of military personnel, I certainly felt out of my depth at times. I hadn’t trained all winter. Probably rode 30 miles at the most in the run up. Never ridden in a chain gang.

RAF Cycling don’t mess around. I’m just glad they let me tag along.

Whatever happens, I’ll be happy if I can just ride my bike.

Want to read a bit more?

RAF Cycling and the CiCLE Classic

Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca Cycling Holiday

Lighthouse of Cap de Formentor


Getting To Know: Chris Mann

Cycling Interview

Carrying the title of National Junior Hill Climb Champion, you wouldn’t think Chris Mann started cycling as a way to get fit after breaking his knees. Writing this I can’t quite believe it myself with how much success the North Wales rider has achieved. With inspiration also coming from his Dad and brother, Chris went along to a Go-Ride session run by British Cycling and now teammate Dave Williams. With the sessions triggering Chris’ competitive side, he first started racing at the age of 15. Rising through the youth ranks you’d find Chris attending Wrexham Road Club Time Trials, regional Time Trials as well as criterium races. Chris commented on his Junior career, “my Junior career has been mixed, some really good time trials and road races, but much of the time struggling with illness and injury, but I did have a strong end to the 2019 season.”.

Looking back to the start of the 2019 season, Chris was balancing training with A-Level revision. “I was balancing it with A-Level revision, so training wasn’t great. I managed some good rides in the CTT Classic Series by winning two rounds, but also getting 2nd place at the Welsh National TT Champs.”

Towards the latter part of the season Chris turned his focus to hill climbs. “I had good support with starting at Bangor University and training for the hill climbs. I retained my Welsh Junior Hill Climb Champion title and took the National Junior title down in Devon. That was the highlight of the year for me.”

When asked how he approached the National Hill Climb, “it was just a matter of getting the prep for the race spot on. I needed to know how to pace the climb and where to push hard. The 13/14 minute climb really suited me! The Nationals is always such a good event and a prestigious award to win, so to have my name up there with some of the best in the country feels amazing.”.

A few months into studying Sports Science at Bangor University, Chris is certainly settled into balancing training and studying now. “It’s actually a really good environment to train at Uni, especially studying Sports Science. It is almost expected for you to do a sport. Having the Sports Science department behind me really helps with training. It’s just a good place to be for training and becoming as fit as I can be.”

Chris Mann 2019

With Bangor being located in north-west Wales, Chris has the Snowdonia National Park and Anglesey as his training grounds. “Bangor is such a good location for cycling. The terrain is so versatile. Snowdonia mountains to the south and across the Menai Bridge for some flat roads.” The roads around Bangor certainly played a part in Chris’ decision to study at Bangor University, but he was influenced by some other things too. “Talking to the lecturers and the staff at Bangor just cemented my decision as they are all really understanding with training commitment. Being lectured by those who are amongst the top academically in their fields is also an added bonus.”

Chris spent the first few months of Winter training simply settling into training and studying, but come the start of 2019 he began looking for a coach. Deciding on Ryan Morley Coaching, Chris is excited to see what happens this season. “Having a coach has basically brought my fitness up to way above what it has ever been before. I was smashing my power PB’s in February only 6 weeks into being coached, which is very promising. Ryan has been really good with the approach to the start of this season. With how my training is currently going, I should be smashing the races I’ve got planned. It has been a lot of time spent on the turbo and Wattbike, but when I can get out for an endurance ride it is a great opportunity to see how I’m going up the climbs and really testing the legs. I’m just itching to get racing!.”

Flying the flag for Velotik Racing Team in 2020, Chris is excited to be road racing and time trialling throughout the season now he’s moving up into the U23 category. “I’m really looking forward to doing some Team Time Trials again in 2020, and hopefully smashing some National Time Trials. I’ll hopefully be doing some hard National B road races and just trying to get as good as I can as a first year Under-23.”

With studying at University, the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) events now come into play on Chris’ racing calendar. Through March and April will see the young rider take part in TTT events, as well as 10 and 20 mile Time Trials. Criterium and road races will start to pop up in April and obviously finishing the season with some hill climbs. Talking about the BUCS events coming up, “I’ll be competing against other Universities in the UK, so that should show for some pretty exciting racing.”

On a final comment, Chris mentions how he feels now the race season is approaching, “The move to Senior will be a big jump, but after this strong Winter I feel ready for racing now.”

Keep up to date with Chris’ season by following him over on Instagram, or give the Velotik Facebook page a like. 

Want to share your cycling achievements and goals? Feel free to drop me a message and we’ll get an interview sorted!

Find me over on Instagram and Facebook.

My Latest Cafe Stop: Durham Heifer Cafe

My Latest Cafe Stop

Well it’s a stark difference to last weekend isn’t it?

When the little sun icon popped up on the weather app on my phone, I was hopeful the sunshine would actually materialise. Quite hypocritical after my blog post from last weekend, but you can’t ignore a chance to ride outside can you?

With a new cafe on my radar and cycling routes limited due to flooding, I decided to head out towards Cheshire with the Durham Heifer being the cafe stop. Ryan was going to walk the dog nearby and we’d meet for lunch.

Sandstone Trail

My enthusiasm to head out on my bike was much stronger than last week. Ryan had given my Liv Envie an overhaul, so it was ready for the summer. With the weather it was the perfect opportunity to head out on it to stretch the gear cable and make sure everything was working as it should. Within the first pedal stroke I had a smile on my face with out powerful my legs suddenly felt. My Liv just has ‘it’ when it comes to bikes. It can be aggressive and is obviously a lot more responsive than my winter bike. My winter bike does the job, but my Liv just makes me want to get out and ride.

Making my way through the country lanes I started on my route to Old Ma’s Cafe near Tattenhall, but took a turning to Bolesworth instead of heading back home. This lead to some rather juicy climbs I wasn’t expecting. Before heading out Ryan said “now don’t get excited and ride along a 25mph”, but you’ll have probably already guessed that was exactly what I had done. Meaning those hills were quite a shock when I wasn’t expecting them…ooops. I got up them, but it took a little digging to get to the top.

Cheshire Cafe

I wasn’t the only cyclist making the most of the weather as the roads were full of them. I’d try and make sure I’d say hello if I wasn’t holding onto the handlebars for dear life every time I went past a hole in a hedge meaning the wind would blow me sideways. Eventually I popped out on the road near my cafe, which wasn’t far from Broxton Roundabout.

Durham Heifer, Cheshire

Pulling up to the Durham Heifer was a little nostalgic as when it was a pub I’d ask to go there for my birthday every year. I have no clue as to why, but I’d go there for sausage and mash every birthday. I’ve always been a creature of habit I guess. Back in November it got turned into a cafe and is a welcome addition to cafe’s in the area. Being dog-friendly as well as cyclist friendly, I feel it’s going to be another firm favourite of mine. I imagine come the Summer it will be full of Sandstone Trail walkers and cyclists.

Durham Heifer Cafe

Hearing about what chaos Elfyn had been causing over some lovely food and coffee, it was certainly a relaxed way to spend a Sunday. As much as it was tempting to get a lift home with Ryan, I really did want to ride my Liv that little bit more. With a fairly simple route home, it felt odd not having to rely on the Navigation setting on my Garmin. I was just riding and seeing how my legs felt with each junction. With my rather speed demon approach on the way out, I made sure to take a more relaxed approach on my way home. Especially with cafe legs that felt like concrete.

So despite only making the plan this morning, it turned out to be a pretty good Sunday. I finally felt like I had a good road ride in my legs, rather than just the Wattbike. Hang in there, Spring isn’t too far away!

To all my Welsh readers, Happy Saint David’s Day too!

To Train Inside or Outside?

Writing snuggled up under a fluffy blanket with puppy in full sleep-mode with legs sprawling in the air acting as my hot water bottle, I’m still trying to get my head around what made me think heading out on my bike this morning was a good idea. I felt like I had a long ride in my legs and I was just getting far too restless to not spend my Sunday out on my bike. Indoor training sessions can help keep your fitness topped up, but they just can’t match pedalling outside can they?

People not quite so outdoorsy must think I’m mad. It’s a weird feeling heading out in the wind and rain. With every car that went past, I must have looked like I wasn’t moving much at all, but like in Belgium, deep down I think I was enjoying it to some extent. The headwind was relentless at times, but bearable once back on country lanes and off the main roads. The rain was making it hard to read my Garmin. Roads were flooded and sometimes like rivers. Yet I was still oddly content with being outside in my own headspace.

Country lanes are fab most of the time as a cyclist, but you can end up in the middle of nowhere rather quickly. By this point in the ride you could I wasn’t exactly thinking straight. My kit was soaked through, so the cold wind was starting to take its toll. My only focus was the cafe I was trying to get to, Caffi Florence in Loggerheads near Moel Famau. I was so close, but had a swirling river I was simply on the wrong side of.

Having just descended a rather steep hill I didn’t particularly want to head back up, there was no option but to fall back on my mountain biking skills to get me to the cafe. Luckily, the unsuccessful crossing of the river happened to be right by a footpath I knew ended up right at the cafe I was desperately trying to get to. With some funny looks of Sunday dog walkers as I rode past on muddy trails on my road bike, I finally pulled up outside Caffi Florence.

My Garmin wasn’t a huge fan of the stormy weather, so I think that had given up a long time ago. By this point, with my hands stinging from the cold, I thought it might be wise to try and get picked up. I’d love to say I was hardcore and rode home, but not being able to change gear due to cold hands made that rather difficult. No phone signal made ringing anyone difficult, so I frantically went in search of hot chocolate in the cafe.

Looking probably quite delirious stood in the middle of the cafe freezing cold thanks to wet kit, the other customers must have thought I was completely bonkers. The guy behind the counter must have felt sorry for me as he popped my hot chocolate on the table with extra marshmallows. I don’t think I’ve ever drank a hot chocolate so fast, it must have looked like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. Honestly, writing this it makes me feel like I’ve been on some massive epic, but I’d only ridden 17 miles by this point!

Catching the attention of a little boy who found my cycling helmet rather interesting, I was slowly starting to feel more human as I thawed off. With no phone signal, the only option I had was to start riding and see where it got me. The original route home abandoned having lost all faith in my Garmin, I was just heading home on roads I knew.

Finally getting some phone signal and my inability to change gear thanks to numb fingers, Ryan and Elfyn met me on the way. Elfyn being a permanent fluffy hot water bottle, his cuddles were very much needed.

So I hope this post hasn’t been too depressing to read. I hope you could have a little giggle at my misfortune after thinking I could tackle riding my bike outside today. I’m not even going to start on how the sun came out after being rescued.

I guess all I have left to say is to those who feel guilty for opting for the turbo at the moment. Don’t. Trust me, you’re not missing much outside. Head out for a walk to get your fresh air fix instead. We’ll be back riding the country lanes in no time.

The January Slump

At the start of ‘off-season’ I was raring to go after not really accomplishing much on the bike last year. After the London Marathon, everything else seemed a little mediocre. It didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of London. Come off-season I was ready to wipe the slate clean and give 2020 a good go. Now with a Wattbike Atom to train on I really have no excuse, but with a Winter plagued by every bug under the sun that perfect off-season hasn’t really gone to plan. Neither has the blog writing…


Here I am writing again, so that’s got to be a good sign right?

I thought I’d kick things off with a bit of a motivation themed post, as I can imagine I’m not the only one struggling with those New Year’s Resolutions. So I’ve been trawling through the depths of Youtube to find some inspiring videos to get you (and me) back into the swing of things.

  1. Making It Work: The Lizzie Deignan Story

Years spent at the top of the sport on the track and on the road, this video shows Lizzie’s return to the sport after having her gorgeous little daughter, Orla.


2. WHAT IT TAKES: One of the boys

Annemiek van Vleuten is a force to be reckoned with to say the least. After a big crash during the Olympic Road Race in 2016 it was questionable whether she would be able to return to the sport. With lumbar spinal fractures (yes multiple fractures) she was back on the podium a month later taking 1st on a stage in the Lotto Belgium Women’s Tour. In this video she joins the boys of Mitchelton Scott on their training camp.


3. Rising: No Train No Gain w/ Kate Courtney

A bit of gym inspiration off XC rider Kate Courtney, who is another Scott rider. This video follows her at a gym session at Red Bull HQ.


4. Lucy Charles – Road to Kona

Regularly popping up on my Instagram, Lucy Charles-Barclay is one of the biggest names in Ironman. Her laid back persona doesn’t stop her putting her all into training and racing. This video follows her quest to get on the top step at Ironman’s biggest race in Kona, Hawaii.

5. Beyond the Bike – Casey Brown

Now this video is from the archives way back when I was racing downhill. This was a video I watched multiple times the Saturday night before a race. It would be this or mountain bike film ‘Life Cycles‘. This video is a bit different from the ones above, but it’s definitely one to watch to give you a nudge to follow your dreams.


So I hope you’ll be leaving  this blog post with the fire in your belly again. I’ve lost it a little this off-season. I’ve even questioned if I want to race anymore, but looking through Youtube’s many pages has helped me get that focus back.

Falling off the wagon is ok, it’s just if you’re going to stay on the ground or brush yourself off and get back on. Even if you fall off again, it’s just important you get back on.

Velotik Racing: TEAM STATS

TEAM STATS 2019.jpgThree years in, Velotik is coming to the end of another strong season. The North Wales/North West based cycling team is retaining its handful of riders, as well as taking on two new recruits going into 2020. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, lets look at what 2019 brought to the table.

Velotik Racing Team Riders:

David Williams

David Crawley

Toby Williams

Chris Mann

Gareth Sanger

Jack Roberts

Lucy Bulkeley


Racing spanning from February to October, Velotik picked up a long list of stats with some of the highlights below:

David Williams

Chris Mann 2019Toby Williams 2019

So with a Welsh Champion and National Hill Climb under their belt, Velotik have already looked ahead to 2020 by recruiting two new riders:

Adam Darby

Darren Maironis

Adam Darby 2019Darren Maironis 2019

Darren previously rode for Velotik in 2017 & 2018, but moved to Transition Race Team for the 2019 season. 2020 sees Darren return to Velotik and is another strong TT rider for the team.

Adam is also coming from Transition Race Team securing great results over the longer distance TT’s. Adam will look to retain his Manchester 100 Mile crown for the third year running.

As Velotik’s only female rider, I’m returning my focus to cycling after a year focussing on the London Marathon and raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young. Not to forget my involvement with the DSI Skoda Academy that saw me go down to Lee Valley Velodrome for some intense fitness tests off Dame Sarah Storey. That being said, it is also worth highlighting Velotik’s further attempts at raising money for the heart charity, CRY, by organising Crit for CRY.

Velotik would like to send out a big thank you to everyone who has supported the team this year. We hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the new race season in 2020.

Moving into 2020 Velotik will be carrying the sponsor logo’s of:

Potter Rees Dolan – Serious Injury Solicitors

D.C. Legal – Cycling Solicitor

R.W. Hough & Sons Ltd – Platering Contractors

Ryan Morley Coaching – Cycling Coach

If you’re not already, you can follow the team’s progress over on our Facebook page by following the link below:

Velotik Racing Team

Welsh Climbs in Winter

Cycling in Wales

On my drive across Wales the radio presenter was suggesting anyone planning any sort of outdoor activity today to turn around, and having just defrosted my car I can see where he was coming from. The sun was rising over the Welsh coast with the sea eerily still as I made my way to Llanberis. With a 40 mile route planned, I was joining RAF Cycling as they come to the end of their training camp. I’d never previously been on a group training ride before, so didnt really know what to expect, just that tactical layers suitable for climbing and descending were necessary.

Going out in sub-zero temperature with Raynaud’s Syndrome playing up is always going to be emotional, but I knew once we got to some Welsh climbs my body would soon start generating some heat. Pen-Y-Pass more than delivered on that front and was a climb I weirdly enjoyed. I suppose its easier to climb when theres so much scenery to look at. I’d love to say I got photos to show you, but with it being a training ride I thought it was best to leave my camera at home…ha.

The climb meant a long descent to follow, which I was rubbish at. I felt like a snail. I just couldn’t pick up speed at all, but I was still on a high from the climb.

I can’t actually remember much of the route in between the two climbs. I was in my own little world for most of it I think. The last time I did a ride non-stop like this was Belgium and we all know how that went. So I guess I was wondering how my body was going to react and if my energy levels would drop.

A topic that kept cropping up in conversation was the last climb of the ride. It sounded interesting, but it just depended whether my legs were dead by that point. Once the climbing started I knew it would end up being a case of mind over matter. Once I let my mind give in that would be it.

Was I going the right way? Just keep pedalling.

Would I be able to descend, or was it too icy? Just keep pedalling.

‘Garmin going into power saving mode.’ Please don’t do this to me now.

It’s funny how precious you get about your Garmin when you’re three-quarters of the way up a climb you’ve buried yourself to get to the top of. I’m so close to the top, yet there I am battling to get my glove back on whilst still riding after making sure my Garmin didn’t die on me! I don’t recommend trying to get a glove back on at the top of a long climb…ha!

Eventually my wheels got to the summit of the reservoir climb and dropped to rest my head on my handlebars. Where the hell Ryan found that climb I don’t know. I had no idea where I was, but I’d got to the top. After doing said climb, I can possibly say it topped Sa Calobra. With no traffic on the road you can dig that little bit deeper knowing you’re not going to have to stop at all or get squeezed to the side of the road.

Don’t get me wrong cycling abroad is fab, but Wales is home for me. Most of the time I can just ride from my front door, but then I can make a short drive with minimal stress and ride somewhere like Snowdonia. Maybe I’ll be riding the distance there soon, who knows. Baby steps.

Autumn Cycling Must-Haves

Autumn Cycling Kit

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

  1. Castelli Perfetto RoS W Long Sleeve

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

2. dhb Classic Women’s Thermal Tights

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

3. Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Glove

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

4. Endura Pro SL Overshoes Black

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

5. Castelli Fresca W Headband

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

6. Stolen Goat Women’s Mesh Base Layer

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