Local Heroes

Local Heroes

Articles pop up in our news feeds daily on the latest news from the pro’s, but we all know there’s much more to sport than those at the top. It can sometimes be those we do sport with regularly that we get the most inspiration from, which is where my latest idea for a competition has come from.

I say competition, but it’s more of a way of launching a new series I want to run on my blog for 2019. Local Heroes. I’ll be opening my inbox to any amazing stories you want to tell. A race result you’ve been chasing all season. A new trail run route you’ve found. A friendship group you’ve formed with all of the banter.

The best part?

There’s the chance to get a free photo shoot out of it. Some of my blog readers might not know that I’m actually a big lover of photography. I went to photograph the British Downhill Series at Llangollen before hopping on a downhill bike myself. Riding and racing means I don’t do it so much now, but I want that to change!

So, to launch this new series I’m going to run a competition to be the first Local Heroes story to hit Lucy’s Life and Bikes. Any sport. Any age. Male. Female. As most will be a little shy to enter themselves, enter your local hero by using the contact form below!

ENTRIES CLOSE 13th JANUARY AT 18:00 (so I have chance to get January’s ‘Local Hero’ article out there!)

Don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the share button!

 

Major Milestones for 2018

I often get to this time of year and feel a bit deflated thinking I haven’t done a great deal throughout the year. So I’ve made myself sit down and write this blog post to summarise all of things I’ve done that I may have forgotten about!

The first exciting trip for Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2018 was a trip to British Cycling HQ. We got to hear about British Cycling’s plans for the year and watch the National Track Champs. Nothing major really happened but it was a good way to kick off the year. It was quite odd meeting other cycling bloggers really with how rare we seem to be!

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Gosh…it’s been a #busy week! Rushing to get an assignment done so I could really chill out in #Manchester this #weekend . Cramming in the #gym to get myself back into a #training regime and have a day at British Cycling yesterday! _____________________________________ Watching the National Track Champs yesterday was mental. The tension of who’s going to cross the line first is intense 🙉 If you see local track races popping up near you, I definitely recommend you go and watch. The #power the #athletes produce is mind-boggling 🙈 _____________________________________ #cycling #BritishCycling #TrackChamps #ukcyclechat #ukblogger #activelife #ootd #anotheroutfitpost

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One memory I do want to take away from 2018 is when me and Ryan pulled a route map out of a magazine and walked up Cadair Berwyn. The walk wasn’t exactly up a mountain, but we still took in some amazing views that day. I think Ryan just wanted to get me out of the house really with #GirlsAtLlandegla coming up the following weekend!

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So then came #GirlsAtLlandegla. I’m not as mountain bike focussed as I use to be, but I still love heading to the forest on my bike every now and then. I’m not exactly sure where the idea for #GirlsAtLlandegla came from, but all of a sudden Manon Carpenter was coming up from South Wales to attend the event. Due to snow, the brave 30 girls who attended the event got to follow Manon around the trails. Still to this day I think about all of the girls who rode that day and were completely amazing. As were One Planet Adventure, Llandegla who made sure the girls could quickly warm up when they got back! We also ended up raising nearly £300 for Help for Heroes!

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It didn’t take me too long to defrost after #GirlsAtLlandegla, but the thought of getting to the beach in Majorca the following week got me round those snow-covered trails! My first cycling holiday, I had the best time cycling roads that dreams were made of. The climbs went on forever, but the views took your mind off the pain in your legs. Despite only being out there for a few days, quite a few blog posts came out of it!

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

One of my big goals for 2018 was to race more on my Liv, so post-Majorca a lot of my time was spent ‘attempting’ to train. Paired with wanting to gain more confidence with open-water swimming, I was either on my road bike or in a lake! I also had to chuck some running in there after going back to Oulton Park at the end of April for their Spring Duathlon.

Oulton Park Duathlon 2018

When we started to enter the road racing season, that’s when I ended up making an appearance in Cycling Weekly for a ‘Training Makeover’. They looked at my training and gave me some pointers on how to tackle it during the Summer.

Unfinished Business

The closer we got to the Summer, the more my confidence with open-water swimming came, meaning I wanted to tackle the unfinished business I had in the lake at the top of Cadair Idris. I don’t know why I felt I needed to return to the lake and actually swim in it, but I went back and somehow managed it. It may have taken me a while, but I got there. This was quite a major milestone for me, because, anyone who knows me will know the mental battles I’m sometimes up against. Getting to the point I’m at now has been a long road, back to before Chirk Triathlon even. Some might say I should have gone to the Doctors, but when their only response was to put me on medication, I knew it was getting out of my comfort zone that was going to help me. I’d often feel anxious sitting in a classroom, but now I’ll talk to anyone. I don’t think I’ll ever be ‘cured’, but it certainly doesn’t seem to control me anymore. Unfinished Business was the biggest blog post for me this year. Letting my mind stop me from doing something as simple as swim in a lake had been a weight on my shoulders I had finally lifted. For 2019 I’m hoping I can find some sort of open-water swimming event to enter.

After Cadair I had a busy few weekends getting to concerts. Thankfully Stereophonics was local, but I also travelled to Manchester to see Taylor Swift with Georgia. Taylor Swift was something that was completely spontaneous and booked last minute, so maybe the getting out of my comfort zone was starting to pay off!

After some sad news about someone I use to race Downhill MTB with, I soon found myself booking an uplift day at Revolution Bike Park with my brother. It was funny going on a road trip with my downhill bike again, especially with my brother. He took me to a few of my races, mostly thanks to my bike fitting into his car a lot easier than anyone else’s! It would normally mean a trip to Chirk McDonald’s after college on a Friday with a packed car heading to the Ludlow area for a Pearce DH race. The good old days that I miss massively and all the people I use to ride with too. I wasn’t as quick as I used to be, but I don’t think I ever will be…

Mountain biking aside, I was soon back on my road bike leading the Women’s Tour out of Dolgellau as a Breeze Champion. Ryan even gave me a taste of how much pain the pro’s would have been in after taking me up the Bwlch Y Groes…

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The aftermath of the Bwlch Y Groes 😰 •••• Head to my Instastory to hear what I thought after I got my breath back 😂 •••• I’ve never ridden a climb like it…I can’t compare it to anything 🙈 Sa Calobra was longer, but the Bwlch Y Groes felt so much harder 😂 My chest hurts from breathing so hard 😂 Ryan shows me some pretty epic places 🙈 •••• This is my entry for @hayleyjanewarnes competition to win a spot on the #OakleyCyclingTour 😍 •••• #womencycling #LivCyclingUK #ukcyclechat #100climbs #roadielife #digdeep #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #fromwhereiride #outdoorbloggers #ukblogger #ASSOSofSwitzerland #HaveAGoodRide #shareyourkask #RideLife #RideGiant #lovecycling #ridelikeagirl #roadslikethese #bikeridewithaview #knackered #jellylegs

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Following that soon came the time I started road/crit racing. There were some rookie errors (like the major one of miscalculating how many laps we’d done) but then there were some bonkers moves I made by accident that completely changed the race. I never placed very well in the races, but I just loved the buzz of being in the action for once rather than just ‘getting round’. I’d finally got an adrenaline buzz from road racing…ha!

Getting such a buzz from racing again soon saw me organising a day of racing at Marsh Tracks in Rhyl, which I somehow even managed to interview Coryn Rivera as a result of organising it too. Whilst I didn’t get the entries I’d hoped for, I still won’t forget that day of racing seeing so many under 12 riders racing round Marsh Tracks. Stay tuned whilst I finalise the date(s!!!) for 2019. I’m not going to lie, the event was a massive learning curve, so I’m hoping I can fine tune it slightly for 2019.

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I sort of wound everything down after Marsh Tracks. I’d put so much time into the event like making the trophies and understanding the logistics of it all, I didn’t really have much energy left for racing! I started running Breeze rides instead, which is how I met Lucy…who happens to have the exact same Liv Envie as me…ha! From our first Breeze rides, 7 days later I had managed to persuade Lucy to do the local hillclimb up the Horseshoe Pass! She did an amazing job and I can’t wait to organise more Breeze rides for 2019.

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To finish off the year I found myself skiing in France with my brother. I’d done my normal thing of being hesitant to book it. So my brother took the deciding out of my hands and booked it for me. It was pretty much a week of eat, sleep, ski, repeat so I was knackered by the end of it!

So looking back, 2018 has been pretty jam packed! I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me this year with events. They couldn’t have happened without you! I really do appreciate it!

What would you like to see from Lucy’s Life and Bikes in 2019? I’d love to hear, so don’t hesitate to drop me a message!

Revisited: 18 Things to Do in 2018

On this day last year I posted an 18 Things to Do in 2018 blog post, so I thought I’d see how I got on in achieving anything on it. Granted, I probably should have printed it off so I had more chance of ticking each one off, but I ticked off more than I thought.

1. New Year Resolution?
With Ffion on our mountain bikes the other day, we were having a good old chat about New Year Resolutions and fitness came into both of ours. Mine is to get functionally stronger. I’ve let my fitness slip the past few months so its about time I did something about it! I just need to decide on a gym to join…

I didn’t quite get there in terms of being functionally fit like I use to, but I did gain a lot of fitness when it came to riding my bike. A trip to Majorca meant I hit the 70 mile mark and had some pretty exciting crit races on my road bike to.

2. Sport to Try?
After hearing all about my brother’s trip to Whistler, I’m hoping I’ll get to try Snowboarding this year.

Well, I went on a snow sports holiday…just on a pair of ski’s rather than a board!

3. Place to Visit Abroad?
Oo a tough one, but France is probably the most likely whether that’s to hit the slopes on a snowboard or climb the mountain roads on my trusted Liv Envie.

I ended up in France twice this year. Once with work and then with my brother skiing. 

4. Staycation to Book?
I haven’t managed to knuckle it down to one particular location, but I’d love to organise a group holiday to a cottage/cabin somewhere with lots of cycling and mountains nearby!

We never got that group holiday booked, but we did end up on some short breaks in Dolgellau quite a lot, which is probably my favourite village in Wales by now. 

5. Bad habit to get rid of?
Overthinking everything!

Not going to lie…I think I’m always going to do this!

6. Book to read?
With motorsport being another big part of my life, the book I want to read os one written by the wife of Frank Williams. Williams: A Different Kind of Life is written by the wife of Frank Williams and the troubles they’ve overcome after his accident.

I’ve not got round to reading this book, but it is still on the list! One book I have read was Running For My Life.

7. Unfinished project you want to finish?
Paint some canvas’ to put up in the house.

I’ve painted one…

8. Mountain to climb?
Cadair Idris as I have actually only been up to the lake…which I ended up swimming in!

I took it up a notch this year and swam in the lake at the top of Cadair…I mean actually swam not just paddled aha! I’d love it if you read my blog post ‘Unfinished Business‘ on this!

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I finally went back to Llyn Cau over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Ryan and I climbed a bit higher above the lake first, then went to the lake on the way down Cadair Idris. •••• It still took my a while to get the confidence to swim, but it was the best feeling afterwards 💕 •••• A Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM lens providing the goods 👌🏻 I love so many of the photos in the blog post, I really hope you go and have a look so you can let me know what you think 😁 •••• #SIGMAUK #lr_people #Wales #CadairIdris #swimwithaview #huubdesign #outdoorbloggers #girlsthatwander #girlywanderlust #outdoorbella #choosemountains #likeamountaingirl #wildswimming #ukblogger #wildernessculture #adventurevisuals #goexplore #outdooradventures #outdooradventurephotos #SheAdventures #CadairIdris #Dolgellau #LlynCau #mountaingirls

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9. Skill to improve?
It’s cheating but I want to put two down, my photography and cycling fitness.

My cycling fitness took quite a big step up this year. I can’t wait to get back to Pimbo in 2019!

10. Film to watch?
The Nutcracker, which was actually filmed somewhere I have been with Ryan earlier this year. I can already recognise the place from the trailer!

Yea…we missed this in the cinema, so waiting for the DVD it is!

11. Recipe to master?
Any recipe out of a cookbook I had off Ryan for Christmas, RAF 100 Cookbook.

I may have used the book for a few recipes, but I honestly can’t remember! My cooking has improved quite a lot though, I don’t really follow recipes anymore aha.

12. Planned event you’re already looking forward to?
Going to see Stereophonics.

I can confirm Stereophonics was very good!

13. Something to start saving money for?
Snowboarding holiday.

I didn’t exactly save…but went aha.

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been…I’ve been living the high life (quite literally 😂) in @tignesofficiel with my brother ⛷ • This will always be the most memorable part on top of the #Borsat #ski lift regardless of how 🥶 it was! It felt like I’d been dropped in the middle of a David Attenborough documentary to find some penguins 😂 Battling the wind and wind-swept powder made it an interesting trip down to the bottom 🙈 Especially when we got back to the hotel and realised we’d covered 22 miles…so basically 22 miles in the squat position 😂 • #tuitravelgoals #tignes #tignesaddict #ladaille #ski #snowboard #olympusuk #olympusfrance #france #moutainlife #winterseason #everytrailconnects #powdergirl #outdoorbella #blueskies #sunandsnow #pistelife #girlswhoski #mountaingirls #powderlove #GetMoreWinter #igtravel #skiholiday #bluebird #skiseason

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14. National Trust Heritage site to visit?
Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire.

I think I still follow their page on Instagram, but I still haven’t been. I did go to Chatsworth House, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go thanks to Pride and Prejudice…

15. Film to carry on watching a million times over?
Any of the Fast & Furious Films or Skyfall. I always love getting all cozy with a hot chocolate with Skyfall on the TV.

Not sure I’m a massive fan of these anymore…

16. 2018 Challenge to complete? (#365PhotoChallenge?)
In relation to my blog it will be to make sure I post every week, but for cycling it will be to enter some more CRIT races.

I decided against forcing content for my blog, so I didn’t post as regularly as I’d hoped unfortunately! I did have great fun at crit racers though. I even ended up in Cycling Weekly!

17. Fitness/Activity event to conquer?
Welsh Champs TT.

I ended up doing Welsh Road Champs…which didn’t go too well!

18. Thing to be most grateful for?
Having supportive family and friends around me.

I’ll always be grateful for this. 

 

I didn’t tick all of these off, but it was a rather long list! If you look at my year as a whole, you’ll realise these pointers don’t even scratch the surface with everything that has gone on this year. There’s been quite a few milestones meaning a ‘Milestones for Lucy’s Life and Bikes’ blog post will be on the way shortly. But until then, don’t get too bogged down with New Year’s Resolutions, because as above proves, keeping it simple and going with the flow is a good way to be.

Roles Reversed

Being a Breeze Champion has been a bit of an eye opener for me really as well as being incredibly rewarding.

I quickly got involved with road cycling after a switch from mountain biking nearly 3 years ago now. I still mountain bike, but road cycling has just been easier to fit in for the past few years. Whilst my endurance has taken a while to get it to where it is, it’s easy to forget about the rides you previously struggled with.

When I first started riding with Ryan I could just manage a ride out to a cafe and back. Call it fitness or just pure grit, I just like being out now. But on a Breeze ride with Lucy today I quickly realised how the roles had reversed. It use to be Ryan pushing me up the last hill to get home. On the same route with Lucy, we were both cold and ready for a cup of tea. So close to the end, the last stretch of road is always a bugger and they chuck a deceiving climb in at the end too! All of a sudden I found me encouraging Lucy to get past the last few hurdles back to the start.

Every ride is a learning curve as a Breeze Champion. Not every ride will be perfect, but you’ll always take a funny memory away from it.

Getting to know Grade x Union

Cover Image

Spanning across multiple sports, Grade x Union is the latest lifestyle and streetwear brand to hit our social media feeds. Created by graphic designer, James Webber, the union is fuelled by a love for sport, beer and good times.

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Starting with photography at the age of 16, James bought his first camera. Creative flows started and graphic design soon came onto the seen thanks to making profile pages for bands on MySpace. Fast forward a few years James has graduated from the Cambridge School of Art with a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design. Something he put into good use as he was one of two behind the Girls At Moelfre t-shirts and branding.

A degree in hand, James landed a job in Madison where he has worked his way up to becoming a Middleweight Designer for Ridgeback Bikes.

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If the love for bikes isn’t already obvious, this is where the big Grade x Union idea stemmed from. Although James is a big lover of cycling, his roots delve into extreme sports too. He grew up in the early/mid noughties surrounding himself with extreme sports. “I’ve tried it all. BMX, Snowboarding, Trials Bikes, Running, Skateboarding and Mountain Biking only to name a few!”. He had a few idols along the way like Martyn Ashton and Tony Hawk too. Who remembers the Extreme Sports channel?

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It was the unions these athletes had with each other in their sports that gave James the Grade x Union idea. “The Unions these athletes had amongst their chosen sport was admirable and I liked that everyone supported each other. There was no rivalry, no hatred, just camaraderie.

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Witnessing such things between athletes was where the Grade x Union mantra’s were formed. Mantra’s sounding a little like:

“Born from the Love of Terrain”

“Ride for the Same Love”

Grade x Union wants to bring “together athletes of all sports, all terrains, under one union”.

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Not just wanting to be another lifestyle brand on the market, James’ main focus is to form a union. “The creation of the union was forged by a love of terrain, as mentioned earlier. Within our various sports we tackle all sorts of terrain and different grades of it. Hence the ‘Grade x Union’. Mountain bikers shoot down their mountains and road cyclists go up them. Climbers scale their rocks. Skateboarders trick their stair sets. BMXers carve their bowls and skiers and snowboarders flow with an abundance of style down anything. The idea behind the brand was to bring people together through them all having the same love for enjoying their sport. Them taking on all terrain and loving it all the same.”

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While Grade x Union’s products will hopefully represent this, they’re also taking things that little bit further by working with the Fair Wear Foundation. “Fair Wear Foundation work hard to improve the conditions for those working in garment factories across Asia, Europe and Africa. They ensure that wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet at least the legal or industry minimum standards. They make sure working hours are fair with safe and hygienic working environments. Most importantly, they make sure there is no child labour.”

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You might be thinking when will we start to see Grade x Union products on the trails or slopes? “We’re still finalising a few things. We want to make sure we take our time and come out with a bang and not look half done! So with that in mind, expect to see Grade x Union in early 2019! It’s safe to say we’re excited!”

What To Take On A Winter Breeze Ride

Winter Breeze Kit

You might be a regular on your local Breeze rides, or you might be thinking of attending your first ride with no idea what to take with you! As a bare minimum all you need is a working bike and a helmet and you’re good to go. This post just contains a few things to make your ride that little bit more comfortable!

  1. Bike & Helmet

As I’ve already covered, a bike and helmet is a good place to start when you’re signing up to your first Breeze ride, but more importantly that they’re both in good condition. Your bike doesn’t have to be the latest model to come out of your local bike shop, it could just be one you’ve dusted the cobwebs off in the garage. Local Breeze Champions will list what bikes are suitable for the ride, so you just need to check on the Let’s Ride website what they’ve said about the ride. If you’re unsure if a ride is suitable for you, look out for a future blog post where I explain how to work the Let’s Ride website! Or drop your local Breeze Champion a message.

The important thing to remember is as Breeze Champions we aren’t trained bike mechanics too! If you’re unsure whether your bike is good to go, book it into your local bike shop so they can check it over. And lastly, as a Breeze Champion myself I wouldn’t let someone attend my rides without a helmet.

2. Puncture Repair Kit

Now when I say puncture repair kit, mine is made up of:

  • Spare Inner Tubes
  • Mini Bike Pump
  • Tyre Levers (to help get the tyre off and back on!)
  • CO2 Gas Canisters (a speedy way to pump up your tyre again!)

I tend to just replace the tube than put a patch over it. Some people still patch their tubes up rather than replace it, which does get more use out of the tube. But when its cold you tend to want to get back pedalling as soon as possible!

A good thing to remember on local Breeze rides is whilst we love what we do, we are volunteers who give up our time to lead the rides. We can’t keep giving out inner tubes as we’ll have bought them ourselves!

Making sure you have the correct spare inner tube is important. Inner tubes come in many different sizes, just like the bikes they go on to! I could list all of the different sizes here, but the blog post would never end! If you’re unsure of which ones to buy, your local bike shop will be more than happy to help.

3. Snacks or Cafe Money

Now your Breeze Ride might not have a cafe stop, which is completely fine. However, from experience I can tell you that there’s nothing worse than being out on your bike without money or snacks when you need them. Especially during the Winter (I’m not selling this Winter Breeze Ride thing very well am I?!?). Even if you’re not stopping at a cafe, having some emergency money in the back of your phone case and a snack of some sort is a good idea when it’s so cold! You never know how your body is going to react to the cold. I can go out on some rides and be completely fine, but others an emergency snack or cafe stop have been life savers! And who doesn’t like a good chat over some coffee and cake?

4. Gloves!!!

This can be something people tend to forget about but I couldn’t recommend a good pair of gloves more! As your riding along the cold air will tend to hit your hands first. Sooner or later you’ll barely be able to uncurl them from the bars. I know…I’ve been there! Standing under the hand dryer at work melting the icicles off my fingers after commuting by bike…and you think I’m exaggerating! I’m really not ha!

5. Warm Jacket & Leggings

For your first Breeze Ride these don’t even have to be cycling specific. I’ve cycled in thermal gym leggings from Matalan before now and a Muddyfox Waterproof Jacket from Sports Direct. All I’ll say is make sure you’re warm, but as well your clothes don’t restrict you whilst riding your bike. Make sure there’s enough flex in the material so you can reach the handlebars! I’d only say ride in leggings too. Whilst sweatpants are warm at home on the sofa watching Christmas films (gasp I said the C word!) they’re not ideal for riding a bike. They’ll probably fall down if it rains and get caught in your chain!

6. Bicycle Lock

Now I’m not saying carry a heavy bicycle chain round with you on your ride. Luckily many brands make small locks that are perfect for a cafe or toilet stop on your way round. They’re small enough to slide into your pocket but happen to be very useful if you need to leave your bike to go and order a coffee!

7. Water Bottle

You wouldn’t go to the gym without one, so make sure you pop one on your bike for your next Breeze Ride!

Like the look of the cycling kit I’ve included in the image at the top of the post? Follow the links below!

Mini Pump

CO2 Canisters

Bicycle Lock

Clif Bar (my favourite flavour!)

Gloves

Cycling Leggings

Cycling Jacket

Helmet

Bottle

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

 

Breeze Poppy Ride

Breeze Poppy Ride bpMeeting up with Lucy for the start of the ride at Alf Jones Cycles, we were pretty swift to get out on the roads. With a ride planned just short of 20 miles, it was a relaxed ride on country lanes and a lot flatter than the rides Lucy was use to doing. Setting off at half 11, it gave us chance to take part in the 2 minutes silence for Remembrance Sunday.

For mid-November it was surprisingly warm, so I didn’t need to pull out my thick Winter Mavic gloves like I did on our last ride over towards Llangollen.

Having not seen Lucy since the Horseshoe Hill Climb a few weeks ago, it was good to catch up and hear if she’s managed to get back on the bike since and how she felt after her first Hill Climb. With an exam looming on Monday, the ride out was a well-deserved break from all of her Maths revision.

After a quick coffee at Cleopatra’s Coffee Shop, the country lanes soon brought us back to Alf Jones Cycles. A relaxed ride in the Winter sun is the perfect way to clear your head for the following week.

I’m going to be making these rides, which are aimed at 16-20 year olds, a regular thing, so if you want to hear about future rides just drop me a message. Otherwise, you can follow me on social media to keep up with what rides are coming up next.

Saving Trek Drops

Trek Drops

Professional cycling is becoming more expensive. From the more exotic race locations to the premium high tech kit and equipment. Let alone actually paying your staff and riders a living wage.

And with many notable men’s and women’s teams folding, a lot has been written about a professional teams main source of income, sponsorship. Ryan writes about the latest team to join those struggling to get to the 2019 season.

So imagine the feeling when just 3 days before you reveal your new title sponsor for 2019, they pull out!

That’s what has just happened to Trek Drops. The team announced today that their set to be new sponsor has pulled out, leaving the team fighting for survival with a £250,000 black hole.

Trek Drops, despite only coming into existence in 2016, have risen to the very top of women’s professional cycling and have grown a fan base way above that of many established teams. They have great presence on social media and promote their current sponsors tirelessly.

So when everything seems to be going right, how can it go so wrong so very quickly?

The reasons behind the sponsorship collapse have not been publicised, nor the sponsors themselves.

And it could all be for very legitimate reasons, but for someone to pull out that late in the day, something big must have happened.

There is now 12 riders and countless support staff who are unsure if they will have a job next year. This isn’t just about professional sport, this is about people’s livelihoods.

So what have Trek Drops done to try and find a way out of this awful situation?

They’ve turned to crowd funding.

This isn’t your typical funding campaign, they aren’t just asking for donations. Every donation gets something in return as a thank you.

From a £50 donation earning you a signed poster, to a £2,500 donation earning you an invitation to the teams pre-season training camp in Spain. There really is some super cool, once in a lifetime experiences on offer as a thank you for trying to save the team.

Why not follow the link to see if you can support this great team women’s cycling so desperately needs to develop the next generation of top women’s cyclists.

Click Here

Is Cycling as a sport the problem, or the people in it?

Is cycling as a sport the problem or the people in it

When rally fever hit Wales, I couldn’t have been happier as the low rumbles of rally car engines returned to our forests. In the lead up to the rally I attended the Rally Forum, which is organised by Broughton-Bretton Motor Club. Big names from the rallying world attended to get interviewed on their season and their thoughts before the big rally took place. The reason I’ve mentioned the rally is because some of the things talked about in the Rally Forum got me thinking about cycling too.

A question that came to mind was;

Is cycling as a sport the problem, or the people in it?

There’s been lots of upheaval in the cycling industry recently, particularly on the road cycling side of things. There’s been teams folding left, right and centre leaving a lot of riders looking for team spots for the 2019 season. JLT Condor and One Pro Cycling just to name a few.

Something mentioned at the Rally Forum was how it is possible to reach the top of rallying as a sport if you’re willing to put the effort in. Someone quoted “if you speak to some of the top football players, they weren’t necessarily the top players on their team when they were young”. It just takes a lot of work to get there. It got me thinking that this is the same across any sport, including cycling.

There’s news articles daily about how cycling is underfunded, that it isn’t fair women get less than men…you get the idea. Big names are always saying “we need to get cycling as a mainstream sport”. And it brings me back to my question of is cycling the problem, or the people in it?

Growing up through the grass roots of racing I’ve seen riders with potential fall out of love with the sport and move on to other things. Others question why they’re not getting sponsorship despite a strong string of results throughout the season. But my view on the situation is that results simply aren’t enough anymore.

Being around many different sports growing up, I don’t have the cycling blinkers on. Keeping on similar themes for example, look at rallying as a sport. The top drivers will be expected to push their sponsors and their team by doing things like ‘Meet and Greets’ with fans and wearing team jackets covered with team sponsors when their not in the car. The teams that have the best relationships with their fans are those with the biggest fan base. The teams that will like ‘tweets’ when fans tag them in pictures. The teams with drivers who will take the time to talk to their fans. A team can have the best results, but if their drivers refuse to speak to anyone, the dream might not last very long. From a business point of view, the fans are who buy the tickets and team merchandise, so they’re what’s bring the money in.

We’ve all been there. There’s a rider we idolise and after a good experience talking to them, we all of a sudden want the products they’re using. Take Coryn Rivera for example, a cyclist who is regularly on social media in team-branded kit finding the positive in every situation. She’s one of the smallest riders in the peloton but was strong enough to take the win at the Tour of Britain, but was extremely humble about it when she did. All of a sudden I loved riding my Liv road bike that little bit more.

Then you look at the likes of Trek Drops Cycling who did something totally out of the blue setting up a British women’s development team, but had one of their top sponsors as Every Can Counts, who they still have to this day. The difference with Trek Drops and their relationship with Every Can Counts is that I know what Every Can Counts is because their riders promote the company and their products. It’s a very topical company since they encourage recycling and even encourage me to turn to cans as aluminium is continually recyclable, unlike plastics.

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All smiles. #ColourTheRoad

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So many cycling teams have sponsors that I either don’t know about, or are just a name to me, rather than knowing what the sponsor actually does without having to search on the internet. If we want to attract companies to invest in the sport, like they do with football, we need to make sure we’re doing all we can to promote them to make it worth their while.

I only recently found out JLT are an insurance company. How can we expect cycling to grow as a sport if we don’t see sponsorship as a two way thing? We can’t expect companies to sponsor teams or athletes if they’re going to get not a lot in return. I think the cycling industry isn’t very creative either in terms of where it gets sponsorship from. Trek Drops is the only team I can think of who did something a little different. They didn’t just go to companies in the cycling industry. Cycling could grow so much if it ventured into other industries and turned the heads of people in those industries.

That’s obviously at the top level of cycling, but if we come back down to grassroots cycling, maybe young athletes can also change their approach to getting to the top of the sport.

When I interviewed World Rally Championship Driver, Hayden Paddon, a few years ago, he didn’t get an easy route to where he is today. He had a close bond with his Dad, but his Dad told him that if he wanted to rally he would have to fund it himself. When working three jobs as a teenager wasn’t enough, he started approaching local businesses for sponsorship. But he didn’t just provide results, he did demonstrations and car washes. He looked after his sponsors…he didn’t just ‘have’ sponsors.

I question what sponsorship even means anymore. People seem to drop the word into advertising to catch people’s attention, but when you delve deeper all it means is a discounted code to use on products. To me this isn’t sponsorship. It’s a marketing tool to get people to buy and promote products even though they’ve had to pay for them. I’ve seen people get drawn into ‘sponsorship’ where they’ve ended up buying products they’ve never even thought of using before. Just to say they’re ‘sponsored’.

Call me bitter, but I don’t see the point in buying kit just because you’ve got a discount code. What’s the difference between the ‘sponsorship’ code and the codes they might send out monthly in emails. To me this is supporting riders, rather than sponsoring them.

Back when I raced downhill, I was lucky enough to get sponsorship with Fridersinc. From the sponsorship I had team kit I had to wear (and loved to wear) and a custom painted helmet. Nic from Fridersinc even helped with some of my race entries. To me, that was sponsorship and I loved promoting them as a company.

Now you tend to see people drawn into ‘sponsorship’ deals just so they can look more professional by having a sponsor next to their name on the start sheet. Essentially these codes are a way of companies getting cheap advertising by people plastering their product all over social media. When I come to buying new cycling kit these days, I’m much more inclined to buy a product an established name uses. Not because someone’s got a discount code on social media. By established name, think Danny Mcaskill and Endura.

I think thats what puts me off, is you get people drawn in with a discount code with a brand they secretly don’t like the quality of, but they’ll go along with it anyway because they’re ‘sponsored’.

With the likes of Danny Mcaskill, I was more inclined to buy Endura for my brother last Christmas because he was someone who was at the top of their game and needed kit they can trust.

So back to promising athletes making their way through grassroots racing. I don’t think you necessarily need team sponsorship to get to the top of the sport. Granted, having riders you can rely on in a road race is invaluable, but just because you’re not on a team doesn’t mean your restricted to where you can take yourself in the sport.

Try and be a little bit creative.

If you look how big the blogging/social media industry is these days, maybe we can learn a thing or to from it. Brands suddenly want to work with bloggers, who are essentially a personal brand, so you need to build a personal brand of your own. Not only this, look at how you can fund your sport a little bit differently. You might need a little bit of help on the training side of things, so your first thoughts might be ‘I need to get sponsored by a coaching company’. Why not approach this a little bit differently and ask local businesses for sponsorship to fund paying for a cycling coach? You have their company logo on your kit and make sure you promote them as much as you can like Hayden Paddon did. As you grow your sponsorship bit by bit, all of a sudden you could have a handful of companies that help you pay for race entries, or even travelling to races. All of which can be the building blocks to help you get to the top of the sport. We only need to look to grassroots football teams and the logos on their kit to get some inspiration.