Cake Power vs Steam Power

Cycling in the winter requires a huge amount of motivation! With winter upon us, finding that motivation is hard! After hanging up the best bike until next year, putting all of the summer kit away and pulling out the winter kit you get really sad that you can’t top up your epic tan lines (or show them off) for a few months. 

When it’s cold, rainy and windy all you want to do is curl up by the fire, but you have a little voice in the back of your mind reminding you that if you don’t keep riding all your hard work through the summer will go to waste. There’s the turbo option, but realistically where’s the fun in that? Besides, how many times have we promised ourselves we’d do a session on the turbo then never do!

Cycling in the winter doesn’t have to be a chore, find a buddy and just ride! You’ll soon forget how cold you are.

A few weeks ago even the thought of going for a ride in the winter months was laughable! “Do I want to go out and get really cold or do I want to sit in bed watching YouTube?” For me, riding the same roads as I would do in the summer in the winter is dull! However, since getting to know Lucy all I’ve wanted to do is ride my bike! 

This was the third time I’ve been on a ride with Lucy and it might just have been my favourite one. With two GCSE Maths exams last week for me and another busy week for Lucy, a ride was much needed to clear our heads for the following week. 

We left Alf’s at 10 then chatted about anything and everything(with the mudguards making as much noise as us!) on beautiful country lanes with the misty views even more beautiful, until we reached Old Ma’s Coffee Shop.

Even though it’s mid November, it’s unusually warm, so we made the most of it and sat outside. We both had a lovely warm drink and a big piece of cake to fuel us for the way home.

A while later, we left Old Ma’s and realised we had both come down with a bad case of ‘Post Café Legs’.

After shaking the café legs off it was more relaxed pedalling along the country lanes in the winter sun until we got back to Alf’s with just over 30 miles under our belts… I mean bibs.

Lucy is going to be putting on Breeze Rides for girls aged 16-20. Come along and meet new people to ride with. You’ll have a great time!

Read about it here Breeze rides I’ve been on here:

Breeze Poppy Ride

Breeze Ride to Hill Climb in 7 Days

 

The Old Shoe

The Old Shoe

If you know the area around Llandegla and Llangollen well, you’ll know the Horseshoe Pass is the Sa Calobra of the region. With the Ponderosa Cafe at the top, it’s a good climb to conquer with a guaranteed cafe stop at the top!

But then there’s the Old Shoe…

The road that used to take people out of Llangollen, but is lesser known thanks to the Horseshoe Pass being built.

You climb up a road as if you’re going to the Horseshoe Pass, but turn off down a country lane. A country lane that went down way more than I would have liked, only because I knew that would only add to the pending ascent ahead of me.

Through a little village I didn’t even know existed, I passed a few roads I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to turn down.

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Then a straight road going undeniable up appeared in front of me. Locals looking at me in disbelief questioning if I knew what I was letting myself in for.

Certain words came to mind when I realised people had definitely not been over-exaggerating how tough the Old Shoe was.

How I was going to get to the top was still unknown to me.

I was over dressed and my legs instantly felt the burn. Cars were even pulling over behind me rather than make me get off so they could pass! One managed to squeeze past by the un-welcomed cattle grid half way up and beep his horn as if to keep me going…ha!

Thinking back to it now I still don’t know how I reached the top. My body and mind were completely done. It felt like my chest was going to explode, yet somehow I couldn’t bring myself to unclip my pedals and stop. Thanks to my Winter gloves it was a battle to keep my hands on the bars and three layers on top meant I desperately wanted to de-layer.

I was waiting for the section where I’d done my photo-shoot with Cycling Weekly, at least then I knew I’d be somewhere near the top at least.

By this point, it definitely felt like I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs.

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Thankfully I managed to keep my pedals turning just enough to stop me having to get off! I sat on the wall outside the Ponderosa wondering what the hell I had just done. I certainly didn’t look like I did in these photos…more red faced and just generally knackered!

That being said, I’d already been up the Horseshoe Pass that morning after taking another rider, also called Lucy, who happens to have a same bike as me too, on a Breeze ride. I’d delved into Ryan’s route knowledge and took Lucy on a loop from Llangollen that followed country lanes to Corwen and back. Hopefully I’ll be able to share the loop with you all soon!

 

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.