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!

Oulton Park Spring Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

My never ending habit of entering races last minute came about again recently. Less than two weeks prior to Oulton Park Duathlon I put in an entry. I was getting restless not competing, so I just thought I’d wing it as per normal. People train months for these things…I just chuck myself in at the deep end ha!

The closer the Duathlon got the more I wondered what the hell I was doing. I massively upped my training and managed to get a lot of running in. I felt guilty not getting out on my bike much, so I knew I’d rely on my ability to dig deep on my bike.

Feeling rather lethargic throughout the week I was praying that I wasn’t coming down with an illness. Luckily I felt a lot better come race day, but those nerves were still there questioning if I’d even complete it.

Arriving at Oulton Park, I (we including Ryan) were actually on time for once. I have a habit of making race mornings stressful because I’m running late.

I got my numbers all sorted and jumped on the turbo trainer. Most people were running up and down the paddock to warm up, but I was in the mood for sitting on the turbo spinning my legs with my headphones on. And when some of my favourite Stereophonics songs came on I switched off from what everyone else was doing and focussed on beating my last time at Oulton Park of one hour 28 minutes. Out of all the years I’ve spent racing, from downhill to road cycling races, this was the first time I managed to not let my nerves get the better of me. This came as quite a shock to me to be honest.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Following race briefing we were soon lining up on the pit straight waiting for the whistle. ┬áNow last time at Oulton Park I ended up getting a PB for 1 mile in the first mile of the race, so I was trying to pace myself…nope I ended up running a 7:22 which is by far quicker than what I run in training! I thought, one lap is just over two miles and I’m use to running longer than that now, so I just got on with it. Not going to lie though, Oulton Park does lure you in with a fairly easy start, but chucks hills in at the end.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I come back in from the first run feeling fairly ok. I thought I’d be struggling with my non existent training plan prior, but I hopped on my bike avoiding slipping in my road cycling shoes running through transition. Thankfully the marshals reminded me to move my number round to the back!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I exited the pits where transition was and onto the race track, again surprised by how much power I had in my legs. I settled into the bike leg rather quick. I’m not sure whether I just find it easier to get into a rhythm on the bike. I loved being back on my Liv, as I’ve not ridden it since Mallorca. That also reminds me…the 70 mile ride from Mallorca possibly became more useful than I first thought as I was use to my legs hurting a lot more after Sa Calobra!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018img_0796Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Unsure on what lap I was on, I was lucky I didn’t do one too many laps! Making sure I got off my bike before the dismount line I swapped back over to my running trainers. My legs feeling like jelly going straight from bike to run. I was looking down at my watch trying to figure out what time I had left to beat 1:28.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

I wanted to up the pace, but knew the short climbs were still to come. So I stuck to my pace until I got the hills out of the way. Then it was a sprint finish to make sure I beat that time. If I hadn’t of sprinted and been a few seconds over 1:28, I would have been gutted.


I completely forgot to grab my time at the end. I must have looked a right mess because the girl handing out the medals asked if I was ok…ha! I’d dug deep…

Going back to the gazebo to get my time I somehow managed to get confused by the system to get it. The Duathlon really messed with my head ha! Either way, I printed my little slip out revealing I’d done 1:23…thank god! I could be in a good mood for the rest of the day…ha! I came 20th overall in the women and second (out of three…) in my age group.

Whatever way I look at it, I can somehow still push myself despite not having the winter I wanted. I just want to find another event to enter now!

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

On our trip around North Wales last weekend I finally managed to pick up some new walking boots. I’ve been looking for some for so long now, I’m just glad I’ve found some!

I’ve had some Salomon boots for a few years now, and they’ve been good enough for the walks I was doing. They’re just starting to show their age a bit now. Letting water in and a well used sole having been battered by plenty of dog walking miles with Jenson.

Looking for a new pair of boots, I knew I’d need to spend a little bit more this time. (Well my Dad actually bought my last pair but that’s another story!) If I want the boots to last and look after my feet, cheap boots just wouldn’t make the cut. I also want to be a little more adventurous this year with the routes I’m keen to try, so it’s important I have the right kit.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

I did actually buy some Mammut boots last year from Go Outdoors, but they only lasted two weeks before one of the eyelets came off.

To avoid disappointment with another pair of boots, I went to where the knowledge of walking kit would be…Betws Y Coed. I spent so much time there as a kid, I always love going back there.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

Me and my Dad went round a few shops, but it was only in Cunningham’s where the staff filled me with confidence in what they were saying. Grant, one of the staff, was extremely helpful and wasn’t just about selling me the most expensive boots.

Scarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking BootsScarpa R-Evolution Pro GTX Walking Boots

I tried on a few pairs just see what different styles felt like, but took a liking to these Scarpa boots fairly quickly. A firm sole and they really hugged my feet. I’ve not been able to wear Scarpa in the past due to having wide feet, but I’m getting on with these really well.

What do you get from the boot?

– When I get a little more adventurous next Winter, I can fit crampons to them to go exploring in the snow!

– Anti-Abrasion rubber in high wear areas of the boot

– Memory foam padding for a better fit

– Gore-Tex for a breathable but waterproof boot

– Stiff sole for stability on more rugged terrain

I’ve done this post as a little first look I guess. I’ve not tried them in the vast Welsh mountains yet, just Bulkeley Hill Woods in Cheshire. But the 6 mile loop we did was enough to break them in!

River to Ridge

Despite feeling guilty about leaving Jenson at home, a road ride today was a no-brainer after waking up to blue skies this morning.

To miss the rush hour traffic I left at 10 with the plan of following a route I’d found by ‘Discover Cheshire’. From the river in Farndon, the route follows country lanes that meander through the Cheshire plains. The route passed through the quaint little area of the world surrounding the Sandstone Trail. Hense, river to ridge.

But I had to navigate those pretty little country lanes first….

With only a map and my phone as backup, one of those fancy Garmin computers would have come in handy!

Missing turnings, stopping multiple times to check I was on the right road…maps whilst trying to get a training ride in don’t exactly match particularly well.

I managed to get to Tattenhall but a direction to go left up a road that didn’t seem to match the following direction, it was at this point I ended up making up a route…on-route!

I knew where I needed to head to and roads to avoid. So I headed homeward bound passing through numerous little postcard-worthy villages that seemed so distant from the busy A41.

Although, from now on there’s no hiding the fact I ride road bikes as well as mountain bikes. I’ve got some pretty bizarre roadie tan lines…