Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely FRIENDSHIPS

I feel like we hear a lot from the pro peloton on what racing is like, but for amateurs like you and me (I don’t think any pro’s read my blog!) racing might pan out a little differently…

What happens in the amateur peloton? And by amateur I by no means degrade the girls in any way. The girls I race with are strong and certainly know how to play the game.

One of the weirdest things to get your head around in the peloton is the unlikely friendships you’ll make on your way round. Cycling racing as an amateur can be quite tough. You see girls on the tv working together, but when it comes to our races, you’ll probably find yourself on your own. 

I often feel that’s probably one of the most intimidating things about cycling racing. The big question of ‘what if I don’t know anyone there?’. Turning up at the racing HQ and not having a clue what your suppose to do or where to go. 

Do I warm up?

Where do I sign on?

Those sorts of questions.

You can go through all of the pre-race drama and not speak to a sole, yet after the start line you can find yourself making unlikely friendships with riders you’ve never even spoken to before. 

This is exactly where I found myself going up the Nant y Garth in Welsh Champs. Two of us had dropped off the back and the rider I was with was having trouble with her gears. Regardless, we worked until we caught another rider who had also fallen foul to a stacked field pushing hard from the off. 

My minimal knowledge of peloton tactics when it comes to working with other riders meant I didn’t feel much use. Being such a small rider meant I wasn’t much of a block in the head wind either. I wanted to be useful…but just wasn’t! Either way, I was incredibly thankful to not be riding on my own from the off. 

Despite not knowing the people you find yourself working with, you somehow manage to work together and push each other on. It wasn’t completely flawless (mainly my fault and not being that strong) but we worked together for a while.

Then there’s other races where I’ve bridged across to the lead rider where she ended up taking thewin. 

So I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be surprised if you find yourself working with people you’ve never even met. You’re in the race together, so you may as well make the most of it. The craziest thing? You might not even speak to them again, but you helped each other get to the finish line.

Have you got any interesting storied from the peloton?

Skoda UK Cycling Academy with Storey Racing

Skoda Cycling Academy

Rolling up to the pringle shaped building that is the Lee Valley Velodrome, the weather was still as grey as when I was last there before the hustle and bustle of the 2012 London Olympics. On a school trip with school, my eagle eyes were out for olympic athletes, but at the time the Olympic Park was still in construction so unfortunately I wasn’t very lucky! We’d gone to the top of the Olympic Tower glad to be inside spotting all the Olympic Buildings.

With the London Olympics having left a big stamp in history, everywhere felt rather quiet when hoards of people would have been there a few years before. Another stark difference being the Skoda branded signs around the main entrance, because I was here for the Skoda Cycling Academy.

A few weeks ago the advert popped up in my feed thanks to Skoda Ambassador, Juliet Elliot, giving it a share. With a spot on Storey Racing being a possibility after the academy, I had no expectation whatsoever on getting a spot on the day at Lee Valley Velopark. After luckily not missing the ‘Congratulations’ email in my Junk inbox (thanks email inbox…this email was certainly NOT junk!), I confirmed my attendance to the day. With the women I race with on a regular basis, I did not feel in any way good enough to take part! Yet here I was, a second trip to London this year, signing on and picking up my number 4 that I would later pin onto my jersey.

I’ve not even been back on my bike that long…how was I going to cope with fitness testing on one?!?

Nerves aside, there was a certain changing room I had to go to as they’d split us up by surname. So I walked into a buzzing changing room with a few of the other girls eagerly getting into their Skoda Le Col jerseys and peeking in the Skoda bags full of goodies, me paying particular attention to one that will become rather useful when out mountain biking!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Jersey numbered up and cycling kit on, we all made our way to the Velodrome. Our bikes were dropped off at a secure container, as the first lot of testing was going to be on Wattbikes. With an introduction from Skoda UK and Dame Sarah Storey, thanks to being number 4 I was one of the first to head over for the 12 minute test! Out of all the tests, I for some reason got it in my head that this was the one I didn’t want to mess up. I wanted to ride consistently for the 12 minutes rather than go off too easy or too hard. When it got tough I took myself back to running down the Mall in April. I think that will also be a memory that sticks with me as motivation when the going gets tough. With injuries, I’d mentally endured those 6 months of Marathon training, so I could get through 12 minutes. I also battled the Welsh hills for 57 miles a week or two previously for Welsh Champs, a lot of it solo, which would have been unthinkable last year. I was getting through this 12 minutes!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Arms on the TT bars, my head kept bobbing up to see the Wattbike screen, battling to keep my average power over 200 Watts. I knew it was possible, I just needed to dig deep to get there. My eyes were closed. Sweat dripping off me from quite early on. Even breathing felt like it wasn’t helping with the air being so dry.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…STOP.

Thank god.

I looked up to the Wattbike screen and there was an average power of over 200. Possibly 207 Watts? My head was such a mess I can’t really remember ha!

I’d done it. The adrenaline started pumping as a result after doing what I’d set out to. Week by week I’m gaining confidence in my mental ability to push myself on the bike. Running round London in 4 hours has benefitted me more than I thought!

Skoda Cycling Academy

There was a quick chat to Cycling Podcast about cycling, whilst trying to get my breathe back, I was talking at a million mph, so I’m surprised any of it made sense. With all the questions, it made me realise just how much I’ve accomplished in cycling now. From the events I’ve organised to racing downhill, to now standing in an Olympic Velodrome with so many amazing women.

So yea, to the Cycling Podcast, I hope even just a small amount of what I said made some sort of sense. I enjoyed chatting to you!

It was a good while before the next lot of testing, as they had 40 women to get through the 12 minute test. Then it was a 3 minute test followed by a 6 second peak power test. After some time chatting to the other women, who hopefully I’ll be able to organise some rides with soon, I was called up for the next lot of testing. For any of the riders reading this and want to come on a ride, just drop me a line! There were so many amazing cyclists there, I really hope we can all stay in touch.

Skoda Cycling Academy

I didn’t feel like the 3 minute test and 6 second peak power test went as well as the first test, but I still gave it my all. Most of it come from not knocking that resistance level up high enough. Never mind, I still gave it my all!

Then the fun really kicked up a notch with 2 flying laps round the crit circuit outside. It was windy. It was chucking it down with rain. And I still had deep section carbon rims on my bike from racing at Darley Moor the day before, I was looking forward to the carnage that would unfold on this one…ha! If there was even a time to rely on skills I learnt from mountain biking…it would be now!

Kitted up with bikes and helmets, we had two sighting laps around the circuit from which we got wet and muddy rather quickly! Regardless the circuit was ace. Lots of ascents, descents and tight corners. I’m hoping I can go back in the future and see if there’s a race on there! See how close I can get that knee to the floor Moto GP style…ha!

Skoda Cycling Academy

I can’t say I was particularly graceful on my way round with how I was throwing my bike left to right on the sections I could sprint. I nearly decked it twice, including an up hill corner where I just kept drifting to the outside of the corner making my way to the finish straight. It was a relief when I got to the finish line without hitting the floor!

Ryan laughed at the huge grin on my face when the inevitable adrenaline came back. I was soaking wet, but grinning from ear to ear. With events I do in the future, I’m certainly considering throwing some timed flying laps in there if funding allows! It’s a great way to give riders nervous about racing a taste of what it’s like, but give more experienced riders a chance to go flat out against the clock.

Glad about the chance to change out of our soggy (slightly smelly…) cycling kit, I could get warm and grab a good cup of tea. I’d avoided caffeine all day due to having no idea how my body would respond to this sort of fitness testing. You can’t not have a cup of tea in London I guess.

With closing messages from Skoda UK and Dame Sarah Storey, we obviously finished with a group photo!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Now I’m looking back on the day, I just wanted to thank everyone for making it so memorable. I’ve never been around so many female cyclists at once, it was ace! Without Ryan I wouldn’t have been able to make it down there in the first place. Meeting Dame Sarah Storey and Storey Racing rider, Chanel Mason, was amazing. They were so encouraging, albeit a little intimidating when they’re looking over your shoulder watching the numbers you’re throwing out on the Wattbike!

One of Skoda UK’s sales managers, Alan, also needs a big thank you for giving me a lift back home, cutting Ryan’s journey back to work by over half!

I hope I can stay in touch with all the amazing female cyclists I met and regardless of whether I go onto the next stage or not, I’ve got an even stronger focus on collecting BC points to get my 3rd Cat license. Road racing gives me such a buzz, I can’t wait to get the next one booked.

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!

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.

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

Breeze Ride to Hill Climb in 7 Days

 

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Photo: Robert Riley

Hill climbs. One of the most feared events in cycling? Riding full gas up a hill for fun. A few minutes of pain for an hour of feeling sick. “You’d never catch me doing that” I always said, yet here I am getting ready for my first ever hill climb… the Horseshoe Pass hill climb.

Lucy and I were talking when she hit me with “fancy the Horseshoe Pass hill climb in a couple of weeks?” Absolutely not I thought!

1, I’ve only been on my bike a couple of times in the last month.

2, No way am I fast enough.

3, The Horseshoe Pass? No way!

Nevertheless here I am entering just a few hours before entries close.

Monday 1st October

The realisation hit me like a bus that I’ve only been on my bike 4 times since August and I’ve only got 6 days left until race day! So I did a 15 minute HIIT session on the turbo… like that was going to help!

Sunday 7th October

It’s the big day. It’s hill climb day. And it’s 4⁰C!

Warm up HPHH

Upon arriving at sign on, the sound of turbo trainers echoed like a swarm of bees. My nerves quickly erupted, my stomach was full of butterflies and I didn’t want to do it. Why? Because of the fear of coming last and looking like a fool. Thanks to Lucy who reassured me that it’s all about getting to the top and not how quickly you get there I collected my number, did my warm up then rode down to the start. With every tick of the seconds hand my start time was drawing nearer. My nerves were creeping up on me again.

Then it was time…

30…15…10…5…4…3…2…1…GO!!!!

“UP, UP, UP!”

A few minutes in and my lungs were already burning, my legs were heavy and I wanted to stop. The road felt steeper than it had ever done before. I was passed by a couple of people who flew up the hill, making it look easy. Spectators on the side of the road were clapping and roaring shouts of encouragement to every rider who passed. Over ¾ of the way up I felt like I was drowning. Trying to take in oxygen but it was never enough and the cold air made it hard to breathe.

HPHH 44 Sprint

Nearly there and there’s people everywhere! I could see their mouths moving but all I could hear was my heart pounding. Looking down at my Garmin I saw my heart rate was at 204bpm!

100m to go. So close.

75m. Don’t stop now.

50m. Keep going.

25m. Final push.

Done!

It took me a while to catch my breath and my words were few and far between. The wave of relief which was more like a tsunami washed right over me. I did it. Despite the unpleasantness of the ride to the top, I loved it and wanted to do it again. We stayed at the finish for a while cheering the other riders on.

Overall, I came 113th out of 144, won the prize for the fastest mixed team (vet, lady and junior) with Oswestry Paragons and was treated to the biggest (and nicest) piece of cake known to man at the Ponderosa Cafe afterwards! On the whole I had a great day and can’t wait until next year.

Lucy and Lucy 2

The thing I loved most about it was that it didn’t matter how fast/slow/young/old you were, everyone was given the same amount of encouragement. Everybody was so kind and helpful, reminiscing on their first hill climb and wanting you to do your best. It didn’t matter what time you did it in or what kind of equipment you had, it was all about getting to the top. Everyone suffered equally and were all praised for how hard they tried. I learnt that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, the fact that you just put the effort in to do it is something to be proud of. And at the end of the day, no matter how slow you go, you’re still overlapping everyone on the sofa!

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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.

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!