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.

#24HourBlogWritingChallenge No.1

Blog Challenge

Inspired from my last post linked to Cara’s 24 Hour Song Writing Challenge, I thought I’d start a #24HourBlogWritingChallenge of my own. It’s a weird one right now as I’m in the writing mood, but what do I write about?

I had lots of fab topics sent over on what I could write about. A weekly training/food plan. What new recipes I’ve been using. Women in cycling. However, it was a late entry that I decided to take the plunge and decide to write about.

What would 15 year old Lucy say about where you are now?

I mean 15 year old Lucy wouldn’t have predicted a pandemic. She might have been shocked about where I am now, but at all the other things I’ve got going on.

So I’ve decided to write a letter from 15 year old Lucy after I’ve told her all about what I’m doing at the age of 23…

DSC_0537

Dear 23 year old me,

Thanks for your letter about what you’re up to right now. It makes battling through the dilemmas of high school that little bit easier. I mean, my room’s filled with an Amazon rainforest’s worth of revision notes. I’m staring at them day-in, day-out hoping just some of them stick in my brain. I spend most of my time walking Jenson, but everyone’s freaking out about what dress they’re going to wear for prom. I’ve already got mine. I picked it up in an afternoon shopping in Debenhams with Mum. It was the first dress I picked up. And I obviously wanted nude shoes like Kate wore for the big Royal Wedding. I suppose spending all my weekends photographing weddings, I don’t see prom as that big of a deal. 

It’s more the exams that are filling my brain if I’m honest. Thanks to seeing Leena Gade on the pit wall in Le Mans I’m suddenly paying attention in Maths, but she must have found it difficult to understand at some point right? Last minute as ever I’ve just put my application in for A-Levels. Maths, Physics and Business Studies, which certainly took my Maths teacher by surprise. I mean it took me by surprise a little, but how would I get onto a Mechanical Engineering Degree without them? I get I needn’t put so much pressure on those grades now. They certainly helped you get a good job though right? Working where Grandpa use to work? Just look after your knees climbing through all those aircraft wings.

It feels weird hearing that I won’t end up at University, but oh my gosh your dog is the cutest. Who made it legal to breed dogs with ears so insanely fluffy. And house and boyfriend too? I can’t believe I’ve nearly bumped into him so many times. At the golf club. Nearly joining Wrexham Road Club. Him selling James a bike before we’d even met. I mean that kind of storyline would give most of the storylines on Disney Channel a run for their money, no?

I’m not quite sure how you managed to convince yourself spending so much on a downhill bike would be ok though. Were the driving lessons really that bad? Thank god I pass eventually! Me, racing too. Racing downhill. That sounds like some crazy stuff. Sounds like you made some good friends along the way too. 

I’m not quite sure how I feel about eventually riding and racing road bikes. Sounds as chaotic as the downhill. I guess I was always going to go back to cycling eventually. It’s always the sport I go back to in the end, whether I race or not. I mean, that cycling trip to Belgium sounds incredible. I’ll finally get to see Spa after hearing about it so much off James. 

The London Marathon sounds tough. I know I don’t mind the 1500m around the Daisy Field at school, but 26.2 miles running. My knees hurt already. I can’t wait to hold that gold medal with the red ribbon for the first time though.

At least I needn’t worry about everything as much, despite a topsy turvy turn of events it all works out eventually.

15-year old Lucy x

DSC_0544

It’s funny how when you’re young you think life can only turn out one way. Some things turn out how you want to, like finally getting to see the Spa Six Hours race. Other things turn out very different, like not going to University, but my A-Level grade still helped me get the job I’m in now. So all the hard work didn’t completely go to waste. They might even help me progress in the future.

I imagine there’s a lot of 15/16 year olds out there right now wondering what the hell they’re going to do now they’re not sitting their GCSE’s. Some might be lucky and have good predicted grades. Others may be worrying beyond belief because they were hoping to bump their grades up when it really mattered on exam day. The truth is, I thought exactly the same. Everything in the moment feels like the end of the world. I went from being a good student to just having random jobs for a few years. I worked in cafe’s and bike shops. They weren’t where I thought I’d be at 17/18, but I’m glad I took a year or two to decide what on earth I wanted to do with my life.

Right now, some might say I’ve got my sh*t together. Boyfriend. Dog. House. Family. But the truth is I don’t think you ever really know what you’re going to do with your life. You just take it day by day and see what takes your fancy.

If there’s opportunities, take them.

If it’s what you want to do, but other people aren’t so keen on the idea, just get on with it.

If you can pay the bills and feed yourself, you’re doing alright.

DSC_0551

(Thanks to Ryan for being patient and taking the photos aha)

If you want to give the #24HourBlogWritingChallenge ago, I’d love it if you tagged me in yours so I can give them a read!

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

 

Elfyn Antics: How A Puppy Took Over Our Lives Part 1

Sprocker Spaniel Puppy

I’ve been wracking my brain on what to write on here since the Mallorca post. With no races or epic bike rides happening, I was a bit well…stuck. I’ve seen enough Zwift blog posts to make my head hurt. There’s enough ‘how to plan a routine’ posts out there too. And to be quite honest, when we can’t ride our bikes like we used to, do we really want to be reading about it? Probably not.

Therefore, welcome to a new blog post series on Lucy’s Life and Bikes. Elfyn Antics.

For those of you that don’t know, on 10th June 2019 we picked up a very small Sprocker puppy, who like the petrol heads we are, named him after Welsh rally driver, Elfyn Evans. My Mum’s dog is called Jenson, so you hopefully get my drift.

Ever since Ryan and I moved in together, I was adamant we needed a dog. However, with Ryan away most of the time and me working 8-5, it just wasn’t fair on the potential pup we’d give a home to. At the start of 2019 however, things started to change. That was when Ryan stopped cycling. All of a sudden there was a massive gap in our lives. I wasn’t following him to Time Trials anymore and if we were at a Crit race, there would just be my bike in the back of the van. In the space of a morning, Ryan had gone from doing an early morning strength session at the gym to being told he couldn’t exercise again due to a heart condition.

Months went by and I had the London Marathon as a distraction. We both had it as a distraction really as Ryan got me through injury after injury. So, I guess we could ignore the pain of his diagnosis for a few months I guess, but post-marathon I realised something had to change. I’d been surrounded by people going through tough times before, and the common occurrence in all those memories was a four-legged friend wagging its tail every time the family got home. We needed a dog.

Sprocker Spaniel Puppy

Now, it pains me every time the Dog’s Trust advert comes on the TV. For many it works out getting a rescue dog and I love it every time I see one of my friend’s give a rescue dog a home. For us though, I knew we needed the carnage of a puppy. We needed the crazy half hour energy bursts before bed. We needed the little furball snuggling into us on the sofa getting lost in all the cushions. We did look at local rescue centres, but many of the dogs came with complicated needs and were 8 years plus. They were dogs we knew we wouldn’t get accepted for by the rescue centres.

Then it came to decide on a breed. With a small house and garden and steep stairs, there were a few dog breeds that just weren’t possible. Having grown up with a Labrador, we knew one of those would fill up the house just a little too much. I love my Mum’s Labrador to bits, but there’s just no stopping those things when they see a squirrel.

I think everyone expected me and Ryan to get a sausage dog if I’m honest as we were constantly tagging each other in sausage dog videos on Facebook. That’s where the steep stairs in our house came into it. There was no way a sausage dog was getting up the stairs in our house. With me also still being active, a sausage dog wasn’t going to be able to do a 10k run with me was it? We knew we’d still be too active for one, despite Ryan not being able to cycle he can still go on long walks in the mountains within reason.

All dogs are clever creatures in their own ways, but I knew we’d need a dog that was fairly switched on. One that could pick up on what we were going through. I wanted a gun dog breed, and this is where everything happened rather quickly. On the Friday afternoon when Ryan was driving home from work, I decided to blurt out that I wanted a dog. I was trawling the internet, but just didn’t trust any of the sites I ended up on. One phone call to my Uncle later, by some miracle his best friend’s dog just happened to have popped out a littler of Sprocker puppies. For those who don’t know, that’s a cross between a Springer and Cocker spaniel. And there was just one of the little balls of cuteness left. ‘Spesh’ as they liked to call him, but more on that later.

By the Sunday, we were heading into Cheshire to where the puppies were still feeding off their Mum. Barely a few weeks old there were puppies everywhere. There he was, the first puppy we saw out of the litter that just happened to be the only one left, plodding towards us. A puppy covered in white fur and chocolate covered spots, including a heart shaped spot on the top of his head. Naturally you have a cuddle with the other puppies, but ‘Spesh’ had stolen my heart with his extra toes on his back legs. Within 10 minutes I was asking how much he’d be. He was going to be the furball that would turn our lives upside down in the best possible way. He was from a breeder we trusted and was surrounded by cuddles 24/7. It just felt right.

IMG_3597

The following weeks felt like the longest because I just wanted a puppy to be running riot in our house already. I had to refrain myself from emptying the toy shelves in Pets at Home. Although I did allow myself to buy a little Cow cuddly toy, that’s still going strong despite being deaf when Elfyn chewed his ears off. It’s lasted longer than his monkey, who is deaf, has one arm but no hands, and is legless too. Chewy puppy…

We went to see him one more time before we could finally pick him up. Kate sent us so many photos, which helped ease the lack of puppy cuddles in between visits. We sat in the sun watching puppies fight over toys whilst soaking up the sun. I didn’t want to leave that was for sure. We quickly realised we also had the greediest puppy when Elfyn kept chasing his Mum around for food. She was having none of it…ha.

On 10th June, the day after I’d been in London for the DSI Skoda Cycling Academy with Sarah Storey, we were driving once again into Cheshire, but this time we’d be bringing Elfyn home. After a good catch up with my Aunty and hearing about how it went for the other puppies when they got picked up, we were walking out to the van with Elfyn in a blanket that smelt of his Mum. As we drove away the most pain wrenching howl came from this little puppy. He howled and howled. I felt like the worst puppy parent in the world. Had we taken him away from his Mum too early? I was in tear. Ryan was driving and looking at me with no idea what to do. I cuddled and cuddled him, but the howls still came.

I lifted him up to adjust his blanket and the howling stopped. I brought him back down for a cuddle and the howls returned. After all that drama the little monster just wanted to look out of the window…

So quite a few words later, that’s the first instalment of Elfyn Antics. I hope you enjoyed giving it a read and will be back to read the next one. This was more of the background story…next up is bringing him home!

Follow me on Instagram , Facebook, or Twitter, so you don’t miss any!