Elfyn Antics: How A Puppy Took Over Our Lives Part 1

Sprocker Spaniel Puppy

I’ve been wracking my brain on what to write on here since the Mallorca post. With no races or epic bike rides happening, I was a bit well…stuck. I’ve seen enough Zwift blog posts to make my head hurt. There’s enough ‘how to plan a routine’ posts out there too. And to be quite honest, when we can’t ride our bikes like we used to, do we really want to be reading about it? Probably not.

Therefore, welcome to a new blog post series on Lucy’s Life and Bikes. Elfyn Antics.

For those of you that don’t know, on 10th June 2019 we picked up a very small Sprocker puppy, who like the petrol heads we are, named him after Welsh rally driver, Elfyn Evans. My Mum’s dog is called Jenson, so you hopefully get my drift.

Ever since Ryan and I moved in together, I was adamant we needed a dog. However, with Ryan away most of the time and me working 8-5, it just wasn’t fair on the potential pup we’d give a home to. At the start of 2019 however, things started to change. That was when Ryan stopped cycling. All of a sudden there was a massive gap in our lives. I wasn’t following him to Time Trials anymore and if we were at a Crit race, there would just be my bike in the back of the van. In the space of a morning, Ryan had gone from doing an early morning strength session at the gym to being told he couldn’t exercise again due to a heart condition.

Months went by and I had the London Marathon as a distraction. We both had it as a distraction really as Ryan got me through injury after injury. So, I guess we could ignore the pain of his diagnosis for a few months I guess, but post-marathon I realised something had to change. I’d been surrounded by people going through tough times before, and the common occurrence in all those memories was a four-legged friend wagging its tail every time the family got home. We needed a dog.

Sprocker Spaniel Puppy

Now, it pains me every time the Dog’s Trust advert comes on the TV. For many it works out getting a rescue dog and I love it every time I see one of my friend’s give a rescue dog a home. For us though, I knew we needed the carnage of a puppy. We needed the crazy half hour energy bursts before bed. We needed the little furball snuggling into us on the sofa getting lost in all the cushions. We did look at local rescue centres, but many of the dogs came with complicated needs and were 8 years plus. They were dogs we knew we wouldn’t get accepted for by the rescue centres.

Then it came to decide on a breed. With a small house and garden and steep stairs, there were a few dog breeds that just weren’t possible. Having grown up with a Labrador, we knew one of those would fill up the house just a little too much. I love my Mum’s Labrador to bits, but there’s just no stopping those things when they see a squirrel.

I think everyone expected me and Ryan to get a sausage dog if I’m honest as we were constantly tagging each other in sausage dog videos on Facebook. That’s where the steep stairs in our house came into it. There was no way a sausage dog was getting up the stairs in our house. With me also still being active, a sausage dog wasn’t going to be able to do a 10k run with me was it? We knew we’d still be too active for one, despite Ryan not being able to cycle he can still go on long walks in the mountains within reason.

All dogs are clever creatures in their own ways, but I knew we’d need a dog that was fairly switched on. One that could pick up on what we were going through. I wanted a gun dog breed, and this is where everything happened rather quickly. On the Friday afternoon when Ryan was driving home from work, I decided to blurt out that I wanted a dog. I was trawling the internet, but just didn’t trust any of the sites I ended up on. One phone call to my Uncle later, by some miracle his best friend’s dog just happened to have popped out a littler of Sprocker puppies. For those who don’t know, that’s a cross between a Springer and Cocker spaniel. And there was just one of the little balls of cuteness left. ‘Spesh’ as they liked to call him, but more on that later.

By the Sunday, we were heading into Cheshire to where the puppies were still feeding off their Mum. Barely a few weeks old there were puppies everywhere. There he was, the first puppy we saw out of the litter that just happened to be the only one left, plodding towards us. A puppy covered in white fur and chocolate covered spots, including a heart shaped spot on the top of his head. Naturally you have a cuddle with the other puppies, but ‘Spesh’ had stolen my heart with his extra toes on his back legs. Within 10 minutes I was asking how much he’d be. He was going to be the furball that would turn our lives upside down in the best possible way. He was from a breeder we trusted and was surrounded by cuddles 24/7. It just felt right.

IMG_3597

The following weeks felt like the longest because I just wanted a puppy to be running riot in our house already. I had to refrain myself from emptying the toy shelves in Pets at Home. Although I did allow myself to buy a little Cow cuddly toy, that’s still going strong despite being deaf when Elfyn chewed his ears off. It’s lasted longer than his monkey, who is deaf, has one arm but no hands, and is legless too. Chewy puppy…

We went to see him one more time before we could finally pick him up. Kate sent us so many photos, which helped ease the lack of puppy cuddles in between visits. We sat in the sun watching puppies fight over toys whilst soaking up the sun. I didn’t want to leave that was for sure. We quickly realised we also had the greediest puppy when Elfyn kept chasing his Mum around for food. She was having none of it…ha.

On 10th June, the day after I’d been in London for the DSI Skoda Cycling Academy with Sarah Storey, we were driving once again into Cheshire, but this time we’d be bringing Elfyn home. After a good catch up with my Aunty and hearing about how it went for the other puppies when they got picked up, we were walking out to the van with Elfyn in a blanket that smelt of his Mum. As we drove away the most pain wrenching howl came from this little puppy. He howled and howled. I felt like the worst puppy parent in the world. Had we taken him away from his Mum too early? I was in tear. Ryan was driving and looking at me with no idea what to do. I cuddled and cuddled him, but the howls still came.

I lifted him up to adjust his blanket and the howling stopped. I brought him back down for a cuddle and the howls returned. After all that drama the little monster just wanted to look out of the window…

So quite a few words later, that’s the first instalment of Elfyn Antics. I hope you enjoyed giving it a read and will be back to read the next one. This was more of the background story…next up is bringing him home!

Follow me on Instagram , Facebook, or Twitter, so you don’t miss any!

 

 

 

Getting Back on the Bike

Getting back on the Bike

It was pretty much a straight swap after the Marathon when it came to my running shoes and cycling shoes. Both pink…of course! I had a week off hobbling round trying to function to some sort of extent. I probably only needed a basket, but had to use a trolley to get me round the supermarket! Running 26.2 miles definitely has a lasting effect on you…!

I was almost scared to get back on my bike to tell you the truth. How much bike fitness had I lost? Would I remember my old favourite routes? Finding all of my cycling kit was the first hurdle!

Ryan pushed me out the door so I couldn’t procrastinate anymore and I followed a route I’d followed many a time the year before. It was a route I could roll round, or a route I could ride hard round. The Cheshire lanes are good for routes like that. You just have to make sure the tail winds don’t lure you into riding too hard before you have to turn around and ride back into the head wind!

It was definitely an odd feeling being back on my bike. Odd being on my Liv too. It felt like I’d missed the off season. I think I rode my winter bike once. Thinking about it, I should probably check it hasn’t seized up, but that’s just something to add to my to-do list.

No sooner has I got back on my bike, I was back on a start line racing the chequered flag at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. A circuit I quite enjoyed racing at. The track isn’t anything special, but it’s the group of girls you end up racing with. There’s enough for it to feel like a race! It was also a 3/4 race, so I was hopefully not too out of my depth. My head was mush by the time I’d got there. Was my number on right? Would I get dropped? What tactics would everyone else be running?

Getting back on the Bike

Luckily Ryan stopped me from completely losing my head.

When the gun went the girls shot off like rockets, so my legs were pedalling frantically to not get left for dust. (Must remember to not start in my easiest gear…that only really works at road junctions on normal rides!)

Getting back on the Bike

When I managed to settle my chimp I just focussed on relying on the good ‘engine’ I had from running the marathon. I might not have been on my bike all winter, but I was determined not to let that winter training to go to waste. There were a few games played on the way round, but I just decided to sit at the back. I might have a good engine, but I had no idea what my sprint was like. I just needed to not get dropped. And that’s what I kept telling myself.

I kept spinning and spinning. I did feel anxious not getting involved in doing a turn on the front, but it was my first race of the year. I’m sure that’s allowed to get myself use to things…

Getting back on the Bike

Unfortunately being at the back for the sprint finish (which is a common occurrence at Darley Moor) meant me having the longest sprint out of everyone just to keep up with the girls. In all the chaos that unfolded in that final race, I somehow grabbed 8th. This hopefully means some points on my BC license, but the results haven’t been put online yet so fingers crossed!

Getting back on the Bike

Granted I’d not been heavily involved in the race, but I was happy coming away having been able to battle it out at the finish. That’s what I always hope for in races, that I can get involved in the action! Even if I mess up, sprints or other events in the race give me such a buzz!

Less can be said when I crossed the line of the longest Time Trial I’ve ever done on the weekend just passed. A 30 Mile TT not far from Market Drayton. Sometimes I like the idea of TT. In the end, all it is is pushing as hard as you can for the duration of the course. And that’s exactly what I did…for 30 miles! I was chucking out a stupid amounts of watts and I was only 5 miles in. I was going harder than my FTP, but instead of toning it back I my chimp decided well you’re in it for the long haul now. This would have been fine if there wasn’t new tarmac that felt like I was cycling through treacle and going nowhere!

Getting back on the Bike

Needless to say I didn’t exactly feel myself at the end! That TT did mean I got a stern look from my coach when I’d managed to increase my FTP by 18 watts…maybe I didn’t try as hard in my FTP test the other week as I initially thought…

(Thanks to Ryan for taking all these amazing photos!)

#FreshKitFriday

Fresh Kit Friday 25th May 2018

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

  1. Castelli Prisma FZ Jersey – £75

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

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

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

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

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

4. Kask Mojito Helmet – £119

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

5.  Rapha Pro Team Socks – £15

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

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

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

7. Castelli Viva Donna Headband – £12

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

 

Destination Bucket List

Sometime in everyday life you lose sight of where you’re going and what you want to do. You get lost in daily routines and following trends. So why not filter out those things for a while and re-focus on what you really want.

Do you want to travel to somewhere new?

Follow a certain career?

Do more charity work?

Around this time last year I took a chance in putting in an application to start on a career path I thought would always be just a dream.  A year on so much has changed for the better. Some days are still tough, but not every dream you work towards is going to be plain sailing. Filter out the outside world and what they’re doing and focus on you. You’ll be thankful you did it.

Familiar with the saying ‘work hard, play hard’? Make sure you do have goals outside of your career and experience as many new things and places as possible. Write them all down and tick them off as you do them, which is what I’ve done with places I want go.

1. Mont Ventoux

Apparently a climb every roadie has to do…apparently it is in some big cycling race. The name doesn’t spring to mind though….

2. Africa to see the elephants…

3. To see/ride horses on a ranch in America

 

4. Monaco

5. Paris for the photos and clothes…

#WorkoutWednesday 25th January

workout-2-peach

It’s time for another #WorkoutWednesday, which gives you an insight into what I get up to in training each week!

Although I’ve already shared some swimming sessions I’ve been trying this month, I just couldn’t not share this one with you! Found in an old 220 Triathlon magazine it helped me push that little bit further than I have been doing in other sessions this month.

Wind back to last October when I decided I wanted to work on my swimming (after a failed attempt at outdoor swimming!), I would find myself panicking a bit when I was swimming. Every time I pushed off the side of the pool it would be a miracle if I got to the other side.

Yet, following a Speedo Fit swimming session with double Olympic Silver Medalist, Jazz Carlin, it was perfectly timed to nip any of my bad habits in the bud before they became to set in my brain! I was basically swimming all different kinds of wrong when I started, but we’ve all got to start somewhere right?

So what training session did I get up to this week in the pool?

Warm Up

10 x 25m lengths (I stuck to front crawl but the 220 Triathlon session said any stroke would do the job!)

Main Set

5 x 100m freestyle, 20s rest per interval (I’m guessing freestyle is front crawl right? Well that’s what I did anyway!)

Cool Down

4 x 50m choice of stroke (I continued with front crawl)

So what’s making me so excited about this week’s #WorkoutWednesday ? The fact that I’ve achieved this months goal of being able to swim 100m! One quarter of the way to being able to swim the swim distance in my Triathlon of 100m!

I genuinely can’t believe the luck I had in noticing the Speedo Fit advert when it popped up in my newsfeed. Jazz Carlin and the Speedo Fit crew were so lovely and helpful. It’s starting to make my big ambition for 2017 of completing a Triathlon more realistic, as swimming was always going to be the biggest wall to climb.

I just hope there’s more Speedo Fit sessions in the future because if there is…sign me up!

Opinions. Not Facts.

“The less you care about what other people think, the better life becomes.”

A saying I’ve heard time and time again, but acting on it is another question. Even more so nowadays with the likes of social media allowing people to post their opinions daily.

Opinions.

Not facts.

Which is what many tend to forget.

Instead of accepting someone’s lifestyle, no matter how much it differs to your own.

Everyone is writing their own story. You might be in one chapter of that story or many. But it’s up to them to decide on that.

No matter who passes judgement on where you’ve been or where you’re heading. Family. Friends. People who barely know you at all. The only person who can write your story is you.

L02