Training As A Female Athlete

Training As A Female Athlete

Navigating fitness as a female can sometimes have its troubles. Especially when we only really ever get taught what will happen on our period and not necessarily how to deal with it. So I decided to put this post together and ask some industry experts on getting the most out of your body as a female who does sport. Every female has to deal with their menstrual cycle and doing sport at some point in their lives, but it’s not something that is openly spoken about.

Who Have I Spoken To

Renee Mcgregor who is a leading Sports and Eating Disorder Specialist Dietician. With 20 years of experience working with every level of athlete up to Olympic level, as she’s a strong believer nutrition is something athletes overlook when it comes to their training. She focuses heavily on over training and REDs in female athletes and how not getting your period from over training is NOT healthy.

Nikki Brammeier is a former professional cyclist who was on the Olympic team in 2016, but is also a 4x Cyclocross Champion. 15 years as a professional cyclist, she now talks openly about dealing with her monthly cycle whilst training and racing around the world. Now a coach through Mudiiita Coaching, she makes sure her past experience results in happy, health athletes.

Bianca Broadbent runs a physio led bike fitting service. With a background in sports physiotherapy spanning 10 years, she is highly experienced in cycling medicine.

Feeling Low Prior To Your Period

When speaking to the ladies above, this was a topic that regularly popped up.

Renee “Firstly, it is completely normal to feel low in energy in the few days prior to and early days of your period. This is due to your levels of oestrogen and progesterone falling. So during this time, it is actually really important to listen to your body and do easier, more gentle sessions. Once you get to the end of your period, you will notice that your ability to train hard goes up significantly and continues to until just after ovulation, where you once again may notice that all training feels more like an effort.

Understanding these patterns means you can tailor your training accordingly which not only helps you to get the most out of your training, but also stops you from beating yourself up when you have those tougher days.”

Nikki “Yep, my periods often affected the way I raced. It was more the PMS (the time before I would get my period, which would cause the most issues).  I had never thought about it, and then once I began using apps like “Flo” and tracking my period, I began seeing patterns of how I would be feeling both on and off the bike in the 7-10 days before I had my period. Usually I would actually feel better once my period had arrived. I always struggled with heavy legs, feeling flat in my riding, tired, not sleeping and feeling light headed and not being able to hit my max in training, it often felt much more of an effort and it would literally be like a light switch, I would go from feeling great one day, to pms hitting and feeling terrible. Once I began seeing these pattens, I could accept it and work with it.”

Adapting Nutrition To Your Cycle

A question put to Renee, this is what she had to say.

Renee “Generally what we notice is that in the 7-10 days prior to our period, when progesterone is rising and reaching a peak, our need for carbohydrate goes up. This is because our body’s metabolic rate increases and the influence of progesterone means your body is more reliant on carbohydrate for fuel than fat. This is why we have cravings and an increased appetite prior to our period.

When we are on our period, it is important to provide your body with food that helps to nourish it, so wholegrains that are high in B vitamins, fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, foods rich in iron such as red meat and eggs but also essentially fatty acids which can reduce inflammation.”

I’m currently reading Renee’s book ‘Training Food’ to help me get the most out of my training by looking at what I fuel my body with. It’s helped change my view on food by not just seeing it as something that my body uses to repair itself with, but also using it as fuel to get the most out of my training sessions.

 Nikki “Often women would lose periods due to an imbalance with training a lot, and maybe under fuelling. Maybe some women on the pill would skip a period. But I can only speak from my experience. I had a big chunk of my time as a rider without periods, because I was training a lot. I never used birth control pills as I had a really bad experience with them in my teens and never seemed to suit me so I just didn’t want anything like that going in to my body and affecting my hormones in any way.”

A Period Falling On Race Day

It’s something I still dread, even more so when I was at downhill mountain bike races and you had to face the dreaded porta-loos. Here’s what the experts had to say.

Renee “I think understanding why we are more clumsy, feel more tired and generally find training hard just before and those early days of our period can help our mindset as we know there is a physiological reason for this. Also having this awareness means you can be more prepared so knowing how to fuel appropriately to maintain good energy levels as well as preventing blood sugar fluctuations; ensuring good recovery options and enabling sufficient rest around your event will all help. If anxiety is very high, you may find it useful to use an app such as calm or breathe.”

Bianca “Hormonal changes that occur pre/during menstruation may affect pain tolerances. In addition to this we may experience pain in our lower back that is not musculoskeletal in origin – it is in fact referred from our abdomen – so managing symptoms here is key e.g. heat, oral pain relief if required.

Some individuals may also report particularly strong cramping sensations along with heavy bleeding, it’s important in these cases to consider the wider impact on your health and whether or not you need to seek professional support, like Elinor Barker did.”

Back in 2019 news stories were released about Elinor Barker suffering for years with Endometriosis. You can read more about that here.

Want More Info

Something I asked Nikki about, as it can often be the norm that coaches feel one size fits all when it comes to coaching.

Nikki “I think that a lot of male coaches don’t approach the subject of menstrual cycles, maybe they just don’t have the information to know what kind of a huge impact it has on female athletes, and its always been a bit of a taboo subject. I only know all I do, because I’m a female, I’ve been through these situations so I can relate to other female athletes and I like to be open and have these conversations when I’m coaching riders. It’s part of our make up and our physiology, we are not small men and so shouldn’t be treated that way.

I’m not sure whether it has anything to do with girls dropping out of sport, maybe they just lose interest and find other passions. But I do think that having more open conversations about these things from a young age would help both young males and females stay in cycling longer. Between the ages of 12-20 our bodies are all changing so much, you can be in one body one week and then a couple of months layer, you’re in another. Hormones are fluctuating, there’s a lot of changes going on. If young riders know this, they accept it and work with it. It could be you’re more tired from a growth spurt, or for females it could be their period. There is so much going on with young athletes. The most important thing is them having knowledge about their own body, they enjoy what they do, and they have good support around them.”

Want More Info

Flo App – mentioned by Nikki which she used to track her cycle, it is the #1 mobile product for women’s health.

Training Food by Renee McGregor – with no fads or diets to follow, it’s about seeing food as fuel for your training.

The Female Athlete Training Diary by Renee McGregor – if you want to learn more about your cycle and those pesky hormones.

You can also find Renee, Nikki and Bianca on Instagram:

Renee Mcgregor

Nikki Brammeier

Bianca Broadbent

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Musicians on Lockdown: Cara Hammond

It’s been a while since the last ‘Musicians on Lockdown’ post, but I feel like this one was worth the wait. Local singer/songwriter, Cara Hammond, chats about lockdown and a #24HourSongWritingChallenge inspired EP.

Musicians on Lockdown: Cara Hammond Title Page

You’re normally based down in London, but you made the decision to come home to North Wales when Lockdown kicked off? Is it strange leaving the city and coming home?

– Yeah it was strange but more because I was leaving London & my whole life there so quickly to come back home. Like all of us, I didn’t know how long that was going to be for & that was scary. I’m glad I made that decision now because it’s been so so nice being surrounded by nature and being close to my family. It’s definitely de-stressed me in an otherwise stressful situation.

You’ve even been taking inspiration from your fans when writing songs?

 – Yeah, since the beginning of lockdown it’s been hard to connect with fans as all of my live gigs and festivals have either been cancelled or postponed. Also for the first few weeks I felt quite anxious about the whole situation & so inspiration for writing could be difficult. However, there’s loads of different features on social media that I hadn’t tried before & realised that now was the time to do it. So I created a post on my Instagram story and using the questions feature, asked people to send me their song ideas. I’d then pick my favourite idea, write a song with it, rehearse it & then less that 24 hours later, perform it in my weekly livestream. Each week I received really great messages either from people who’s ideas I’d picked or other fans who connected with the songs. That’s when the idea for the ‘twenty four hours’ EP came about.

twent

You’ve been making the most of the live features on social media with Open Mic sessions? How did they go?

 – Yeah, one thing I really miss is playing a gig with a great lineup of other artists & being able to engage with other musician’s fans. After I spoke on a Malaysian radio show’s Insta (Fly FM) using the split screen feature, I had an idea for an open mic using my Instagram page as the platform. I asked a few of my musician friends, either that I’d met at uni or since moving to London at gigs or in sessions etc. Everyone I asked were really excited for it! It was great for our audiences as it was the closest thing they’d get to a gig for a while and it was so good to just talk to other musicians about their experience of lockdown.

How did you end up in London? You didn’t take the big jump to London straight away, but went to University in Leeds? 

– I moved to London in 2018 after studying at Leeds College of Music and doing a bit of travelling. I did look at going Brit School for 6th form but as it’s not a residential, there was no where for me to live, especially at the age of 16. I also looked at uni in London, but I remember looking around Leeds on their open day and it was a really great college, with a mixture of all genres of music. I also fell in love with the city, it’s music scene and student-y vibe was really exciting for me. I’m glad I moved to London when I did as it seems that most of my friends have moved their at the same time & I’m absolutely loving it.

Cara Hammond Photo Sun Set

Your move back home for lockdown certainly shows through your latest EP. Stripped back to your voice and your guitar. What was it like writing about a topic chosen by somebody else?

– It was a really great bit of inspiration actually. It really helped me focus, especially since I gave myself a limit of 24 hours, it meant I really had to get my arse into gear. As a songwriter, you’re always writing and/or collaborating. I love writing on my own as it is very personal and I can indulge a little bit. However I love collaborating too, as it’s so fun jamming with another artist and creating a song which you both feel connected to. Luckily I still have been able to collaborate with other musicians/producers at the moment via Zoom.

Cara Hammond Photo

Cara Hammond Photo

Music has taken you round the world too? Did you think you’d get to where you are when you started out, because you started quite young?

– Since I was a kid I always loved listening to, singing and performing music. I think I knew it would always be a bit part of my life. I’m happy that I have kept on pursuing it as there’s been so many amazing things that have happened and I’m excited to see what’s next!

I’d love to finish on some rather impressive Spotify stats? Which has lead to a new music video?

– So ‘Good Times’ is my most streamed song on Spotify, with over 300,000 streams, which is absolutely crazy. To celebrate this and it’s 1 year anniversary, I created an alt music video with help from my band and fans. My band (Robert Oates on drums, Kieran Williams on keys, Stefan Knap on bass, Dominic Carmelo on guitar) recorded themselves playing ‘Good Times’ to which I layered it all on top of each other to create the full track. I then asked friends, family and fans on social media to send me some videos of them having their ‘good times’ which I edited into the video. It was such a fun video to create as it felt like I was celebrating with all these people even though we were all apart.

 Quick Fire Questions

  1. If you could have any pet you liked, what would it be? – Been spending lockdown at my boyfriends house and he has a pet dog named Billie. She’s (as in Billie Eilish) the cutest, fluffiest thing and she really cheers you up when you’re having a meh day. I’ve moved in with my parents now so maybe I’ll dognap her.
  2. Your go-to drink after performing a gig? – Ooooooh a large glass of white wine.
  3. What you miss most due to Lockdown? – I miss live music sooo much. I had festivals planned for this summer so I’m gutted about those being postponed but at least they’ll be there 2021. Also pubs and holidays.

Follow these links to give ‘twenty four hours’ a listen:

Spotify

Youtube

Cara Hammond

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We’ll Never Get This Again

It still feels like it’s all go at the moment, even though everyone’s like ‘enjoy the time-off, we’ll never get this again’. Constant news updates riddled with people arguing about what’s right or wrong. My poor dog subject to people ringing up Radio 2 when I leave to go to the shop purely to moan. And I’m not going to even start on the Twitter and Facebook politicians.

Life’s still happening on Lockdown. Everything hasn’t just stopped. I mean we’ve all got to have learnt a new language by the end of it, no? I’m still learning things about myself everyday. One of the biggest is the fact I’m happiest when I’m ‘on-the-go’. I struggle to just chill. When my mind’s occupied on something, anything, it stops me over-thinking a conversation I had 5 years ago and what I might have said wrong. And, my gosh, I didn’t realise how much going to work helps me sleep! Unless I’ve had a bad day and I just lie there staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell happened. But I’m still here, so it can’t have been that bad.

Despite my blog being quiet, I’ve actually been writing a lot more now I can’t disappear into the Welsh hills on my bike. I’ve come to terms with going out locally purely for my own sanity. I go out early when it’s quiet. I also head to country lanes I know, which allows me to focus on one thing and not how far away I am from everyone around me. I come across people every now and then obviously, but on the whole it’s just that ‘ahh’ feeling of taking a deep breath.

We’ve also caved into getting Netflix when I’ve always been dead against it. I didn’t want to waste my days glued to a TV screen. Basically we’ve completed All 4 and iPlayer, so we’ve had to find something new to watch. We got to 90210 on All 4 about 10 years too late, and we’ve not found anything to be our go-to programme that is easy-watching without being too intense. So now we’ve come to Riverdale like 4 seasons too late…ha. Having got to the end of season one, it blows my mind that someone’s sat down and written it with a plot so complex.

Netflix also meant I could watch Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana documentary, which is probably why I’m typing another blog post. Hearing song’s from her earlier albums took me straight back to being a teenager and realising why I listened to some of them on repeat so much. It’s scary when you look at how much she’s achieved since those albums. With each album and it’s songs ringing true with my life when each one was released. From ‘Mean’ to ‘I Forgot That You Existed’.

I look at myself and things I wish I could change. Being naturally a quiet person, which at times can put me in frustrating situations. I want to put my point across, but my voice just doesn’t raise above the person ranting on. Confrontation isn’t something I’m familiar with, so I guess I’ll get use to that. Then I realise the ‘good girl’ image I battle with and how people think it’s just a free ticket to walk over you because they know there won’t be a backlash. And then I do backlash and there’s just silence…pure silence at the shock of it. The ‘good girl’ image Taylor had to hide away for a year to get rid of. I mean, you get taught everything at school, but dealing with life itself.

Yet, how you see yourself could be completely different to how everyone else does. I got a message the other week from a blog reader saying she wanted to be like me when she grew up because I was a strong woman and amazing at whatever I do. I may or may not have sat there with a little tear in my eye, but with the girl-boss role models I had growing up it felt like I was almost repaying the favour to someone, somewhere, by inspiring someone in the same way.

I’m always going to have strengths and weaknesses. I’m just still learning how to use them. It’s just that whole thing of it’s how you look at a situation. It’s more ‘I can handle this’ rather than thinking of just about every reason in existence on why you can’t.

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Following New Paths

TulipWaking up with a bit more ‘go’ in me this morning, the thought of doing a 2 hour session on my Wattbike seemed like a good idea. I had a bad case of cabin fever yesterday and I just couldn’t get it out of my system. It was definitely an occasion for Lucy to disappear into Wales and sprint up some hills, but I can’t do that right now so we adapt don’t we.

It’s a weird scenario right now where I crave human interaction, but when I go out I’m avoiding people at all costs. It’s definitely made me realise how much I thrive on being able to go outside, which luckily right now is what the daily dog walk is allowing.

And that is where this blog post has come from I guess. Don’t worry the Elfyn Antics will resume shortly…

On my regular scrolling through Insta Stories to see what everyones doing to occupy themselves, Cara Hammond’s Instagram popped up. A female artist from my hometown who’s living it large in London. Cara’s live sessions on Instagram are a good way to spend Wednesday lunchtimes at the moment and this week she was doing a 24 hour song writing challenge and was asking fans to send ideas in. So I sent an idea in:

Following New Paths

I’d started the day getting a bit carried away walking Elfyn. Lucky enough to live near a good loop of country lanes, this was where I was heading. You might have to deal with the smell of cow poo (which Elfyn loves…) but walking past all the fields takes me back to my childhood every time. When I use to watch the lambs run around the pond in the field behind my parent’s house as a kid. Watching them try to figure out they could actually run all the way around it, not just half way. When I used to go and feed the calves in the calving shed at my Nain and Grandad’s farm. The closer I am to a farming environment, the more at ease I am.

So walking along to pause near a gate to a field full of fluffy little lambs, it was enough to put a smile on face. Especially as I watch Elfyn weighing them all up in his little head. He was on the lead obviously as we were still stood on the road. Lambs are just such lively little things the way they prance around the fields then snuggle up next to each other to sleep. They’re coats so pure and clean. They’re always a sign Spring has come for me and I wasn’t sure I was going to see any this year.

I thought I had a route in mind for the daily dog walk. I was doing the longer walk to tire the crazy pup out. However, getting to a certain point where I could carry on using a route I’d done quite a lot recently or turn left to carry on along a bridleway I wasn’t sure which way to turn. It wasn’t a life changing decision obviously, but my indecisiveness took over. The turning left option was a path I’d never bothered to explore before. I thought it was a long drive to a posh house. There was no cattle in it as the field had been ploughed. With the sun shining and the ground solid underfoot I thought today was as good of a day as any to try it out.

I’ll admit there was a slight hint of guilt that took over me as I was passing through. Farmers must be working on overdrive right now doing all they can to get food on our tables. There’s no ‘calling in sick’ for them. If their cattle go into labour, it’s on them to help deliver them. Field’s don’t get tended to without someone driving the tractor. So getting to any gates I made sure I covered my hands with hand sanitiser before and after touching them to open (and close!) them. Luckily there was only one gate to deal with.

Wandering through the fields I wasn’t all that far from home, but it was enough to feel like an escape. To take a deep breathe in for the first time in what felt like forever. A pair of buzzards had caught Elfyn’s eye as I saw his nose following them round as they hovered in the sky. A sky that was blue and cloudless. Random trees in the middle of fields breaking the line of the horizon. So many scents filling up his brain as his tail wagged at a million miles an hour.

Yes it’s fab to say I was in Mallorca not too long ago, but you can’t beat the British countryside can you?

Exploring just a tiny bit of the world I’d not seen before just brought a sense of relief that I’d needed for so long. This was where the idea I sent to Cara came from, following new paths. It’s funny how words to one person can mean something completely different to someone else. I may have just followed a new path with my dog that day, but it matches everything going through my head right now. Where us as a human race are so vulnerable right now, so how we spend our time becomes so much more valuable. Our whole lives have been flipped upside down, so you start to reassess how you’ve been spending your time up to now.

Was what you’ve been working towards actually what you want?

Or are you just scared to do something else because of the leap of faith it requires?

Are you just going to stick to somewhere where you don’t really slot it?

What do you regularly waste your energy on? Worry. Stress. Jealousy.

Do you just want to plod on and live the path laid out in front of you, or deep down is time to switch it up and take the jump?

All those ‘quotes’ that hit you hard suddenly start running round in your head and you’re wondering who the hell you’re suppose to be listening to. Or does the grass just seem greener because cabin fever has set in?

So when Cara’s live session was playing when I started writing this post, I loved hearing her take on the idea I’d sent over. The session is still over on her Facebook page if you fancy a listen.

The whole thing about how people interpret a collection of words got me thinking as well. Would a 24 hour blog writing challenge work? So this might be something I try whilst there isn’t much cycling to write about.

This is probably a bit of a random blog post to put out there, but despite having all the time in the world to write right now, I just haven’t had the lightbulb moment. Until now. Which is why I’ve interrupted the Elfyn Antics post series.

So whilst we try to work our way around all the problems the world is throwing at us right now, just know we’re in this together.

If you need to chat, drop me a message.

If you just need a good rant, that’s cool too.

We’ll get there. Eventually.

If you want to listen to Cara’s Live Session, you can have a listen here

 

Cycling Up The Old Shoe, Llangollen

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.

LucyBulkeley 81

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.

LucyBulkeley 54

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!

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

Cycling is on the rise, but that might mean cycling with your other half. If you or they are an experienced cyclist, it’s always worth considering they might not be as quick as you!

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.

Cycling with your other half

 

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.

Moel Famau

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.

Cyclists

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…

Female Mountain Biker

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.

Dolgellau, Wales

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