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!

 

The British Way of Thinking

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Being typically British…we moan…a lot! Conversations will contain something negative and we’ll soon find ourselves absorbed into a negative way of thinking.

“This isn’t going the way I want”,

or

“I deserve this”.

Life generally isn’t going the way we planned.

But whilst lost in this bitter way of thinking, life is passing us by.

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We turn on the TV in the morning, instantly fed negative news stories where reporters find the most minute of things that are wrong with this world.

Yet all the great things go unpublished.

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Social media feeding our minds with ideal lives we haven’t got.

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But what have we got?

Exactly that.

Life.

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We can wake up each morning, whether that be to rain or sunshine, to live another day.

We may not all be travelling around the world.

We may not all be able to afford a CHANEL wardrobe.

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We may not feel we possess the ideal looks everyone admires to have.

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But what does everyone reading this have?

We have a life to fulfil. 

Fill full of laughing until you can’t breathe.

Fill full of laying around when the sky turns from a sunset to become full of stars.

Fill full of doing rather than overthinking the ‘what ifs’ first.

Change “What can I do today” to “what can I do for someone else today?”.

Not being so quick to pass judgement when you don’t know the full story. It never truly boosts your self-confidence does it?

Sticking to what you love and not changing to conform to the majority, so wear last season’s clothes because they make you feel good about yourself.

Wear the outfit that’s a little bit ‘out-there’, which has been sitting on your private Pinterest board for months.

Try everything out of your comfort zone, because what have you really got to lose? You might decide to put it on the “Not a Fan’ list or find your newest obsession.

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Whatever life we have been give, it’s important to make the most of it. Cliche, but it’s true.

Springtime Cycling

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We’d not done a ride with a cafe stop for a while. I just prefer getting back home to a warm drink rather than stopping half way round, but it just felt like the type of day where a cafe stop was a good idea. No record timings were required either with Ryan racing the following day!

With a cafe set in a little Cheshire village in mind, off we went.

Any ride out into Cheshire is a favourite of mine. I just love how there are so many country lanes that intertwine to make up so many different routes.

We even decided to film this ride, so I’ll let the video show you where we ended up.

Let me know what you think!

Things You Learn from Cycling with Your Other Half: From Ryan’s Point of View

Since meeting Lucy, we’ve been on loads of bike rides. From the Cheshire plains to the hills of North Wales, as well as some off road stuff too. Our first ride together was one of the early dates and now it’s almost a weekly event.

Through our numerous rides, I’ve learnt a fair few things…

1. We’re both out of our comfort zones.

When you first start riding together, it’s likely to be a new experience for the pair of you, and we were no different. The pressure of navigating; trying not to get lost or make the ride longer than planned. Trying to set a pace that she can cope with and not run out of energy miles from home. It all adds up to a decent bit of pressure.

“Trying to set a pace that she can cope with…”

Conversely she’s going to be thinking the same sort of things; how far are we going, will I be able to keep up. The key thing is to communicate (which sounds simple I know) but if you talk and plan things out it can be a much more enjoyable ride.

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2. It’s not the same as riding with my normal riding buddies (but that’s not a bad thing)

Riding buddies tend to all be of similar abilities and you can all ride at a pace that requires effort, but everyone still manages to stay together (sometimes only just!). This isn’t the case when riding with your partner. There is going to be a difference in your abilities plain and simple, but this isn’t a bad thing.

“There is going to be a difference in your abilities…”

From my point of view it allows more time to chat and take in the views, which is what cycling is supposed to be about right? I can’t believe the number of nice views I’ve noticed on roads that I’ve ridden hundreds of times before, but always been too focused on the road ahead to notice them.

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3. It still counts as training.

As a competitive cyclist I attempt to follow a training plan. While riding with your partner might not be a hard interval session or a mega long endurance ride, it gives you something that is often massively overlooked by cyclists. Recovery. And more specifically active recovery. You might not be pounding the pedals, but going for an easy ride with your partner is a great way to allow your legs to recover from all the hard training and help you reap the benefits later.

“You should’t set off with the expectation of riding at a certain speed, riding with your partner is a time to forget about numbers and just enjoy the ride.”

4. Wear more clothes.

This is one that I’ve got wrong on several occasions and is more pertinent to the colder months. Through years of experience I’ve got to a place where I can open the back door in the morning and almost immediately gauge the amount of kit I need to wear to keep warm, but also not overheat. But when you’re riding with the other half at a lower intensity (getting that all important recovery) your body generates less heat and all that wisdom goes out the window. I now understand to put on more kit than I initially think I’ll need, otherwise I’m going to be in for a cold couple of hours.

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5. Always have sweets on standby.

This one comes from one ride in particular. We’d decided to go on an off road adventure through the Denbighshire moors, which was one of my favourite rides of 2016. The ride took much longer than we’d both expected and after running out of food at the halfway point, the last few miles were a right battle, both of us running on empty.

“I had a bag of emergency sweets stowed away in the car.”

Fortunately I had a bag of emergency sweets stowed away in the car. These were a godsend and perked us both up. Since then I’ve always kept some on standby just in case…

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6. There’s always more to talk about.

I’ve never been the most talkative person in the world, but there’s something about being on a bike that makes me turn into Mr Chatterbox. Even if I’ve been with Lucy solidly for the previous week I can always think of something else to talk about. And that’s great, chatting away makes the miles fly by, there’s nothing worse than riding along in silence.  At the end of the day your partner is someone you enjoy spending time with and going for a ride is just an extension of that.

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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.

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