Where did all of the trees go?

So those bikes with spongy forks and knobbly tyres do still exist. Those things called mountain bikes! With my exams out the way I can finally have my life back. 


Saturday morning was the first time I’d got out of a car at Llandegla to be hit by hot and not cold temperatures, and there was a fairly big group of us to get to the top!

A steady climb to the top was followed by a few surprised faces. The trees had gone! No longer is there a tree lined start to the descent, but instead open hillside scattered with tree stumps. With it being such a clear day, it opened up a new view from the top that was pretty special. It did mess with my head though…I couldn’t figure out which part of the trail I was on .


It was such a relaxed ride where I could catch up with everyone. There were new faces on the ride and familiar faces I had a lot of catching up to do with! I always feel guilty for not seeing them more, but nothing ever changes when I do see them! Apart from the fact one has a super cute baby, who I hope is enjoying their first Father’s Day. And the loveliest couple ever having lots of holidays planned. With one of those holidays being Whistler…I’m a little jealous!

We would sometimes spilt up to do different sections of trail, but meeting up at the cafe to have burgers meant we could re-group again. For £6.95, the BBQ is a bargain as not only is there quality meat (I’m sure there’s veggie options too!) you can pile your plate with salad. On busy weekend days, there’s less waiting for your food too. It’s a no brainer really. 


This is only a short post, but how can you not write about such a beautiful day? I could catch up with friends and my brother. It was just overall a good day and what mountain biking should be. Friends and fun times. However, Ryan’s morning ride wasn’t so stress free after breaking a spoke. Luckily it happened in Llandegla village, so I could give home a lift home!


I hope you all had a lovely weekend and didn’t get some rather dodgy tan lines like me! Including some elbow pads tan lines and a white X on my back. For the places I did remember to put sun cream on though, the Nivea Protect and Refresh sun spray worked really well. And it was only Factor 20!

No Place Better…

I tend to have those place that, despite not being all that technical, I still want to go and ride my mountain bike there. After visiting Llyn Brenig and the Alwen reservoirs multiple times for Wales Rally GB, they have been on my list for a rather long time. Arriving without a yellow helicopter dodging trees and rally cars doing the same, it felt rather quiet! Granted there were still plenty of people around, just not as many as when the WRC spectators pay the reservoir a visit.

I wasn’t expecting the routes to be anything near what I’ve ridden in the past. I was only expecting fire roads really, but I just wanted to see more of the place after only being able to see minimal parts of it at the rally. We started off on the fire road that goes around Llyn Brenig. I was happy just being in the Welsh countryside on my mountain bike. No pressure to go a certain speed or ride a certain way, just being out in the sunshine.

Opening and closing the multiple gates, we found ourselves at a junction of trails. Back to the Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre or to the Alwen Reservoir. After a climb that was a lot tougher that it looked, I was so close to saying let’s just head back, but with the sun out what better place is there to be? We’d only get home sooner to do well….not a lot! Me and my brother don’t get out on the bikes together much, so we may as well make the most of the rare occasion of us both having free weekends to ride our bikes.


Going round Alwen was something I didn’t regret either, as it was definitely closer to single track than Llyn Brenig. We were riding in and out of the forest too, which gave us a break from having the sun warming our backs. The trails were so quiet apart from a few walkers and young families out riding bikes. We couldn’t go particularly fast because of this, but it meant we could fully take in all of the amazing views around us. Those amazing views also meant taking lots of photos, which my brother wasn’t too pleased about ha!

In some sections the trees were that big we could have mistaken ourselves for being in Canada or somewhere in the Alps.

 
“As amazing as the Alps in the snow are, nothing quite beats Wales in the Spring”

 
Riding across the bridge over the pitch black Alwen, I somehow had to put all my faith in a bridge that was no doubt quite old…

Riding over the moorlands and coming to realise just how big the reservoirs were.

It was refreshing to see somewhere new and make the most of this sunny weekend.

How are we posing for this photo again?

Two blog posts in one day? Should I be doing that? Who cares! Today’s ride was too much fun to not write about it!

How are we posing for this photo again?


Originally a ride to catch up with Anna, our group suddenly grew to include Kate, James and Ffion too. 

I’ve often found group rides to become quite difficult. People will often ride at different speeds that can make keeping the group together hard work. But this one turned out to be quite the opposite.


At our own pace we made our way up the first long climb at Llandegla chatting about anything and everything. We weren’t bothered about going fast up the climbs…just maybe a little on the descents! The general feel for the ride was good.

Anna was the person to get me involved in downhill, so I’ve known her for quite a while now! But I met Kate & Ffion through organising Girls At Moelfre in 2015. It was almost like a Girls At Moelfre meet-up!


I couldn’t organise a similar event this year, but will hopefully be able to soon as I met so many amazing girls at the last one. Plenty returned but to try the tracks at the Girls At Llangollen uplift earlier in the year.

Back to today’s ride…we (eventually!) decided to head down the Black, but rather than do Parallel Universe we turned left and I had forgotten how fun that little section was! Plenty of flowy corners and berms with a few little jumps too. For my hardtail it was perfect. I may have finally figured out how to get my 27.5 wheels off the ground too…ha!


We conquered a few climbs, took plenty of photos, stopped for random chats, which all made for an enjoyable and relaxed day on the bikes.

A Windy Antur Stiniog

This year I’ve been somewhat cautious when it comes to getting onto my downhill bike. With learning to drive and trying to sort a career out, at the start of the year I had quite a lot going on at once. Everything was very uncertain and I’ll be honest I didn’t deal with it very well. It felt like I was stuck in a rut that was impossible to get out of.

But hopping back onto my Scott Voltage today made it all worthwhile. In the grand scheme of things this year is such a small part of my life. I now feel confident that using it to organise things was the right thing to do.

When I’ve been so use to lycra shorts and road cycling jerseys, packing all of my body armour into my bag felt a little odd. Surprisingly I knew where it all was too, which is a first! With everything packed in my little car (thanks to my brother & his help to figure out the tetris puzzle…) off I went to meet Jake to go to Antur Stiniog.

I’m not overly confident driving all that way just yet…and I’m glad I didn’t because 5 minutes from Antur a truck had jackknifed in the road. So we had to take a bit of a de-tour to get there. I would have had no clue where to go!

Fast forward to getting onto the uplift and I was surprisingly quite relaxed. Kicking things off by following Jake down ‘Jympar’ my bike didn’t feel as alien as I thought! I knew I wouldn’t be as fast as I use to be (the gale-force winds did not exactly help that situation though!) but I wasn’t too hesitant.

Somehow surviving the Black Powder was a surprise too!

Thanks to Jake for inviting me along and to the guys at Antur for a great day! Despite the crazy weather conditions I couldn’t have asked for a more chilled out day on my bike.

Exploring Dolgellau:Closer to Camp

The Sunday of our mini-holiday actually involved me getting on my mountain bike, which hasn’t actually happened all that much this year. It definitely became clear how much time I have spent on the road bike this year. Pedalling hard but it would still felt like I was making no progress at all. The gearing just felt all types of wrong. Being on a mountain bike felt slightly odd too, so needless to say I never actually did anything worth sharing from my ride around Coed Y Brenin. I appreciate Clare showing me the trails there…I just wasn’t getting on with my bike at all. I spent more time pushing my bike than riding it. Compared to what I was riding last year…that was hard to swallow.

So as not to carry on all that negative talk, the rest of the day was spent at the campsite. Although it was past lunchtime by the time we got back.

With another spectacular sunset my camera came out of the bag when me and Ryan went for a wander. Well it was more me wanting to go and take photos…and not go by myself ha!

DSC_7824

Cader Idris

DSC_7827

Cader Idris

DSC_7864DSC_7878DSC_7883DSC_7888

Sugar Overload


So I actually got round to riding a bike in a forest again today rather than on the road! 

The reason I got involved in mountain biking was because of the social side of the sport, and this year I seem to be getting back to that. It’s just about going out to put a smile on my face and catch up with friends.

I wasn’t chasing times with my Garmin.

I wasn’t bothered about missing a few features along the way.

And making room for this epic milkshake in the cafe at Llandegla afterwards … Ha!


A glass jar filled with ice cream, meringue, chocolate chips, marshmallows, cream … and a doughnut on top!

It just had to be done. End of…ha!

Spending so much time on the road can’t be doing me that bad either, because my climbing ability hasn’t completely disappeared! (Yet!)

Bikes & Brownies

For me cycling is more than just a sport I participate in. Encouraging girls to enjoy being active and being outdoors is just as important.

Growing up I couldn’t quite decide whether being a ‘tomboy’ or ‘girly’ suited me best. When most girls ‘found’ make-up, I still had scars on my shins from many failed attempts to keep up with my brother on my bike. Social media was beginning to grow in popularity and I felt I had to act a certain way to be considered ‘normal’. I’d go from being outgoing and loud, to being crippled by nerves with the many judgemental comments I thought might be fired back at me going through my head. Even the smallest comments stuck with for a long time. Some of them still do.

Finding bikes changed that.

I’ve had those rare runs where I’m at the top of a Downhill track and I’m completely tuned in to what’s around me and what lays ahead. Riding on instinct instead of thinking how I can get to the bottom as soon as possible. Relaxing into corners and saving wash-outs. All of a sudden how I looked or acted wasn’t important. Chasing adrenalin was.

DSC_3182

When I got a message of Lizzie, who I use to go to school with, I jumped at the chance to talk at her Girl Guides & Brownies group about helping the girls get out on their bikes this Summer. If I could encourage even just one of these girls to go and ride her bike this Summer, it would be worth it.

DSC_3181

I started the talk by asking the girls to attach labels I’d made to the parts of the bike they thought they might be. Seeing them so willing to get involved was quite humbling.

After going through how to check their bikes were safe to what is good to put in their backpacks, Q&A’s followed. With them asking so many good (and sometimes difficult to answer!) questions, I hope they have the most amazing Summer out on their bikes! Talking in front of a lot of people isn’t exactly a strong point of mine, but they were so polite and a credit to their families & Lizzie.

Image-1

Exploring World’s End

You know that feeling you get after a good ride on the bike. Your muscles hurt, yet your not all that bothered about it. You know it was worth it.

When an email off Chris from Hotlines UK, a UK bike product distributor, popped up in my Inbox I was more than happy showing him what North Wales had to offer in terms of natural trails and single-track.

Throughout the day I was feeling dubious as to whether our planned ride over World’s End would be a good idea. The rain was on and off, but was quite heavy at times. I very nearly bailed and said to ride in Llandegla forest instead. After his long drive from Edinburgh, I doubt Chris would have wanted a long ride in the pouring rain!

And there was the slight concern in the back of my mind that…the route I had planned I had never actually done all in one loop. And I hadn’t ridden there for a while either. Probably not the best idea when you’re the only one who’s suppose to know where they’re going….

But the weather cleared up, so I took the risk of showing Chris round World’s End after all. With it being the Summer Solstice too, I knew the views wouldn’t disappoint.

IMG_2098

Despite not being 100% on some sections, I didn’t actually need to bring my map out at all. It was all off memory and knowing which general direction we needed to go. So I’ve obviously progressed from my days of getting lost on back roads and having to ring my Brother to figure out where I am…. yes I did that ha!

Going to World’s End always seems to put the little pieces of the jigsaw in my head back into the right places. It brings back a feeling of content. I was switched on in relation to the trail in-front of me, but I completely switched off from everything else I’ve got going on right now.

IMG_2099

I might be riding my Mondraker hardtail less often, but every ride seems to count. It’s not just because I feel like I have to go out. It’s because I want to.

Thankfully Chris enjoyed the ride, but we both figured it would be better to start on the Llangollen side so all the climbing is at the start and not the end of the ride!

Where is the Cycling Industry at right now?

After reading a recent post by Cycling Weekly about female riders feeling there are actually no barriers to women to start cycling, and hearing Chris Boardman’s opinion on the subject the other day. It got me thinking.

Where is the cycling industry at right now, and where is it heading?

I had a bit of a long-winded start to riding bikes. I’ve always ridden bikes but my first experience of mountain biking was in 2006. (I still cringe at the photos of me wearing Adidas tracksuit bottoms to go riding…) But due to lack of people to ride with I didn’t ride all that much in high school. By college I had come across the GirlMTNBiker group on Facebook, so times had clearly changed with the growing number of women on bikes.

Yet we are still in the minority. Working in the bike industry only further highlights this with most of the sales reps coming into shops I have worked in being male. And I’ll be brutally honest, some having the mentality that most women hate about the cycling industry. That looking ‘easy on the eye’ is important. Not all sales reps, but some.

But then is it just the cycling industry to blame? Media in general doesn’t help.

DSC_1112-3

It’s nearly a year since Girls At Moelfre, and it’s still something I am incredibly lucky to have been able to organise. (With plenty of help!) One comment from one of the girls I’ll never forget is that they were treated like mountain bikers, not ‘girls on bikes’. There were no men to complicate things by putting the point across of not ‘having the right bike’ for the tracks. They brought the bikes they had and gave the tracks a go. Even if they made up their own little route down and missed some parts, or they went full steam ahead and tried everything. They were riding bikes and enjoying it. And to me that was all that mattered and it was exactly the same for Girls At Llangollen.

1982310_816762541741506_5865846526026034996_n

There’s plenty of us out there who ride bikes. It’s just a case of bringing them together to the same place.

I have heard about men complaining about the growing number of female-only events, and yes the amount of Girls At Moelfre type events for the guys are lacking. But there’s nothing stopping them organising their own events. Or maybe we’re at a point now where events may not need to be male or female-only. What point do you think we’re at?

It would be great to hear your opinions on this, and keep checking my blog for post about some exciting plans in the pipeline for Lucy’s Life & Bikes.

An Evening With Chris Boardman

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

An Evening with Chris Boardman

It’s not often you get an opinion from someone who is involved with British Cycling that hasn’t been twisted by the press. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to Mountain Biking and British Cycling, but you can’t ignore what they’ve done for Road and Track Cycling.

Organised by Booka Bookshop, which is an Oswestry based bookshop and cafe, the event actually took place at The Marches School. After videos were shown of his legacy in the sport James Bond, from Radio Shropshire, quizzed the previously professional cyclist on topics covered in his Autobiography ‘Triumphs & Turbulence’.

I could write about these topics covered in Chris Boarman‘s book…

How his 1 hour record was the most horrifically painful experience he had ever had on a bike…

Or how Wiggins wanting to up sticks and move to France to continue his cycling career brought Chris Boardman back into cycling…

But I’m not as some interesting points were brought up in the Q&A’s:

  • His views on female cycling
  • Dealing with nerves
  • Recent dramas that have hit British Cycling

During the Q&A’s I put forward the question on what his view was of women and cycling, and his lengthy answer came as a surprise.

His view was that for women’s cycling to do well you needed a handful of things.

  • You needed not only women’s races, but a pool of female riders to fill those races.
  • The races and rider numbers attract sponsors.
  • Then people to run those events.

He also brought up that equal prize money is around the corner, but prize money isn’t what athletes live on. They live on salaries which come from sponsors.

Although it will have predominantly been related to road and track cycling, I think his answers can be applied to mountain biking too. Women just need the opportunities to have a go at these things to boost the amount of women in the sport. Yet the growing number of women on bikes is already visible.

Dealing with nerves was one of the first topics covered at the event and was brought up numerous times again throughout the evening.

At the start of his career he dealt with all of the nerves and the ‘what if’s’ going through his head before big races. His nerves got to a point prior to the ’92 Barcelona Olympics of (excuse the language) ‘F*ck it. I’ll be the best I can be.’ He said at that point he wasn’t trying to win a medal, he was ‘doing’ something. That something being the best he can be. All of the ‘what if’s’are not in your control, but you are in control of yourself. Waiting is always the hardest bit with racing, because once you’re actually in the race you can get on with it.

With British Cycling having been in the press so much recently, it was inevitable that it was going to come up. His response to this question from the audience was what was put in the press had details left out. It was all very one sided. The way I look at it is the life of an athlete is a tense and highly strung one. And whatever comes out in the newspapers? Will you ever know how close or far it all is from the truth? These events may have happened, but only the people who were actually there will know what happened for sure. And what else happened alongside it.

British Cycling over previous successful years has had many people behind it. Who’s outside of the box thinking brought about the success which materialised into gold medals. As Chris Boardman said, yes the reputation was damaged but is now seen as a clean sport. The sport of cycling has struggled but is now better for it.