Welsh Climbs in Winter

Cycling in Wales

On my drive across Wales the radio presenter was suggesting anyone planning any sort of outdoor activity today to turn around, and having just defrosted my car I can see where he was coming from. The sun was rising over the Welsh coast with the sea eerily still as I made my way to Llanberis. With a 40 mile route planned, I was joining RAF Cycling as they come to the end of their training camp. I’d never previously been on a group training ride before, so didnt really know what to expect, just that tactical layers suitable for climbing and descending were necessary.

Going out in sub-zero temperature with Raynaud’s Syndrome playing up is always going to be emotional, but I knew once we got to some Welsh climbs my body would soon start generating some heat. Pen-Y-Pass more than delivered on that front and was a climb I weirdly enjoyed. I suppose its easier to climb when theres so much scenery to look at. I’d love to say I got photos to show you, but with it being a training ride I thought it was best to leave my camera at home…ha.

The climb meant a long descent to follow, which I was rubbish at. I felt like a snail. I just couldn’t pick up speed at all, but I was still on a high from the climb.

I can’t actually remember much of the route in between the two climbs. I was in my own little world for most of it I think. The last time I did a ride non-stop like this was Belgium and we all know how that went. So I guess I was wondering how my body was going to react and if my energy levels would drop.

A topic that kept cropping up in conversation was the last climb of the ride. It sounded interesting, but it just depended whether my legs were dead by that point. Once the climbing started I knew it would end up being a case of mind over matter. Once I let my mind give in that would be it.

Was I going the right way? Just keep pedalling.

Would I be able to descend, or was it too icy? Just keep pedalling.

‘Garmin going into power saving mode.’ Please don’t do this to me now.

It’s funny how precious you get about your Garmin when you’re three-quarters of the way up a climb you’ve buried yourself to get to the top of. I’m so close to the top, yet there I am battling to get my glove back on whilst still riding after making sure my Garmin didn’t die on me! I don’t recommend trying to get a glove back on at the top of a long climb…ha!

Eventually my wheels got to the summit of the reservoir climb and dropped to rest my head on my handlebars. Where the hell Ryan found that climb I don’t know. I had no idea where I was, but I’d got to the top. After doing said climb, I can possibly say it topped Sa Calobra. With no traffic on the road you can dig that little bit deeper knowing you’re not going to have to stop at all or get squeezed to the side of the road.

Don’t get me wrong cycling abroad is fab, but Wales is home for me. Most of the time I can just ride from my front door, but then I can make a short drive with minimal stress and ride somewhere like Snowdonia. Maybe I’ll be riding the distance there soon, who knows. Baby steps.

Autumn Cycling Must-Haves

Autumn Cycling Kit

Cycling at this time of year can be off-putting to say the least. Rain, wind and dark mornings aren’t exactly encouraging are they? On my recent ride of all weathers in Belgium I very nearly didn’t head out, but having good cycling kit with me pushed me out the door. I think having trust in your kit makes all the difference, which is why I’ve been having a look on the internet at what Autumn/Winter cycling kit is on offer.

  1. Castelli Perfetto RoS W Long Sleeve

Kicking my findings off is the Castelli Perfecto jacket, which I’ve actually tried and tested. If I’m completely honest I’m ‘borrowing’ Ryan’s, but I know Castelli don’t let the quality drop just because a product is for women. At £190 you’ll be please to hear you get some GORE-TEX technology for the price tag. On the front panels are made up of WINDSTOPPER and water-resistant material, but towards the back the material has more of a stretch and breathability. I’m particularly a fan of the dropped tail on the back of the jacket, which keeps more of your back covered when riding down water-logged country lanes.

2. dhb Classic Women’s Thermal Tights

With a warm jacket you’ll obviously need some cycling longs to go with it. I personally rides in some Castelli longs, but I thought for this post I’d look around a bit. If you’re active on Twitter you’ll find dhb is a brand that regularly pops up in kit recommendations. It doesn’t cost the earth, but still does the job. On the likes of Wiggle you find plenty of positive reviews on the brand and its products. Having a look around these Classic Women’s Thermal bib tights caught my eye as they help keep your torso warm too. Any extra warmth is always a bonus.

3. Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Glove

Sealskinz have been a market leader for as long as I can remember. They’re a logo I’ve seen around since the early days when I first started cycling (well MTB). The biggest benefit with these is the fact they’re waterproof and constructed with three layers for added warmth. I’m actually on the look out for some new gloves and I think these are high contenders.

4. Endura Pro SL Overshoes Black

When Ryan introduced me to overshoes a few years ago it was a revelation. Being a Raynaud’s sufferer the cold is certainly not my friend, but since using overshoes my toes stay toasty for longer. My recent Endura overshoes have been fab for a few years, but I was slightly heavy handed with a zip so have had to replace them. These are the closest thing I can find to them. Scottish brand Endura certainly know a thing or two about bad weather!

5. Castelli Fresca W Headband

Cold ears on a ride are never fun, so I normally go for one of two options being a Buff or thermal headband. Buff’s tend to speak for themselves. I’ve worn one since I was little hiking up Snowdon, but thermal headbands work rather well under a cycling helmet. When it’s ice cold you might opt for a Buff, but at this time of year I normally use a thermal headband. I was trying to keep the brands varied, but Castelli just do the thermal headbands so well. I hate it when mine’s in the wash and I can’t wear it. They’ve got some funky design this year too. You can even get a Fresca Jersey to match…I mean Christmas is coming up right?

6. Stolen Goat Women’s Mesh Base Layer

Just because it’s a base layer doesn’t mean it has to be plain. I think it’s just more of an excuse to be as exotic as you like and you can’t go wrong with polka dots. I’ve always seen Stolen Goat to be slightly ahead of the game when it comes to their designs and how colourful they are.

 

Roads Less Ridden

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I did the typical Lucy thing this weekend where I got a ride into my head and I wasn’t going to settle until it was done. Luckily Ryan knew a more picturesque way to go than main roads, so after some plotting on Garmin Connect I was good to go. 

I was off to Llyn Brenig and that was that. Cambrian Photography were running an Optic’s Fair there so I could get a lift home with my Dad if needed. I just needed to get away from main roads and just ride my bike.

It was main roads really to Ruthin, but a sharp climb out of Ruthin and a sharp right onto a country lane meant I was quickly in the middle of nowhere. Lane after lane my mind was getting lost in the constant climbing. Normally I’d shy away from it, but I secretly liked the challenge. Feeling the burn and knowing there’s nowhere quite like North Wales to ride your bike. Lanes that go on for miles do you can completely get away from it. I guess it’s what cycling is about for me, you know? Where it can take me. Yes I’ve seen some pretty crazy places whilst racing, but this ride was something else. I had the map on my screen rather than what watts I was chucking out. I was just riding my bike. Not worrying about how quickly I was going up the hills, just laughing when the roads were close to disintegrating yet I was still getting up them. Getting attacked by pheasants in the meantime. I must have saw about 40 pheasants and I’m genuinely not over exaggerating. They were everywhere!

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Eventually I was on the hill tops making my way across the rolling Welsh hills with 360 degree views. I’d not seen another cyclist for about 15 miles. I couldn’t not stop to take photos with there being views for miles. At one point a group of painted lady butterflies flew off that were resting on the road. My mind was blown at the scenery around me at every corner. 

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Soon Clocaenog Forest came into view as well as the Wind Farm scattered throughout it. It always baffles my mind how big Wind Turbines are. My route had been so good up to now I was convinced the road would turn to gravel sooner or later, but the route just kept going and going. The 360 degree view was replaced by dense forest. It felt like I had the forest completely to myself.

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Passing gravel roads which I’m pretty sure were used for Wales Rally GB, I soon needed to turn off right to head towards Llyn Brenig. I turned the corner and all of the sudden there was an arrow straight road lines by trees perfectly framing the view at the end of it. 

My legs were starting to fall victim to all the climbing and I was doing and the sharp descent meant there was more to come. I looked down at my hands were glistening from the sweat. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. All of a sudden I popped out on the main road near Llyn Alwen.

Relief. I’d made it with a massive smile on my face as well.

Racing is great and I enjoyed it last year. Those Pimbo races were crazy, but this year I just couldn’t get my head into it at all. Right now though, I’m finally loving riding my bike again and the amazing places it can take me. I may not have ridden home, but I can’t wait till I can just disappear on my for the day and see where it gets me.

MTB Meet Up 2019

Check me out…actually riding a mountain bike!

MTB Meet Up

It’s certainly been a while, but I think I’m slowly getting the mountain bike bug again. I’ve bought new mountain biking kit and everything…ha!

When I saw MTB Meet Up was coming up at Llandegla, I thought I’d head up there. Rolling up to the cafe it was marquee galore taking up pretty much everywhere near the cafe. Marquees full of expensive bikes to demo, but I resisted the temptation to try bikes I’ll never be able to afford. Because naturally I was eyeing up the Hope bikes ha!

We started off as 3 women hitting the trails to ride bikes. The trails were obviously busier than normal so we found ourselves getting overtaken (rather aggressively at times) by multiple E-Bikes. I have nothing against them, but do they really need to barge past when there really wasn’t a gap there? I’d rather not eat part of a tree branch thanks to being pushed to the side of the trail, but hey we’ve got to share the trails right…

With the bonkers heatwave the UK has been having you’d expect me to be say I was riding in blue skies and a vest top. Yet it was drizzly and overcast. The sort of weather I love the most when riding in the forest. Blue skies and dust are great, but nothing beats the forest when it’s damp and muggy. That’s probably the Welsh blood in me though.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Riding down the trails I’ve ridden since I was 10, it’s almost like muscle memory riding there now. No matter how long it’s been, I still know them like the back of my hand. Memories came back even more so this week after building up my old Scott hardtail for Ryan’s little brother. It’s been given a new lease of life and he loves it just as much as I did by the sounds of it!

Doing a mixture of Red and Blue, 3 riders grew to 5 after bumping into 2 who wanted to avoid the Black trail.

Rolling back to the centre I queued up for the bike wash, which had kindly been paid for by Fenwick’s. I left with my bike cleaner than when I arrived ha! Fenwick’s is the only cleaner I’ll use on my bike if I’m honest.

MTB Meet Up, Llandegla

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to an uplift soon too. I got rather jealous when I saw everyone’s photos from National Champs the other week!

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