About Me

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I only started cycling a year ago following a charity event which signed me up to cycle London to Paris. From then on I have joined a local cycling club and developed into a lycra loving lass.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Little bit of race training

I haven't written in ages.. Many reasons why but I'll maybe write something about that later on.. 

Weekend just gone I had the most amazing day! WERL (women's Eastern racing league) race training with the fantastic Tanya Griffiths, Elanor Cadstow, & Isla Rush as experts and then coaching by the infamous Huw Williams! 

It was a great opportunity (organised by Tanya) for new women riders / racers to learn essential skills, build confidence & meet like minded women in a safe and controlled environment. 

We started off with a couple of laps around HoggHill / Redbridge cycling track. An 8 minute pro warm up where you gradually increase the pace each minute until the final minute you are busting a gut (not literally)! 

Then we did some technical warm up with speed work where we rode up and down a cone section. On one side we had to spin our legs a fast as we could in a light gear to get to the other side (about 6seconds) and then easy.. Repeat about 6 times! 

Then we had to ride in 4's going round the cones keeping the same distance between us. That was manageable. But then we rode again in our 4's but on the left stretch we had to hold our left arm on the rider to our lefts shoulder and the one on the end put theirs on their head... Interesting!!! On the right side we did it with our right hand. The aim - to get us comfortable with being held buy another rider so when in a race you can move through the pack and tell riders you're there if they're being a bit sketchy or close! 

After we did some riding round the track in 5's.. Keeping the same distance. Then the 5 at the back had to work their way through to the front, communicating to fellow riders. Repeated until all riders were through... There was an awful lot of giggling, amusing comments coming up as you shouted items of clothing as opposed to riders names (we hadn't done a formal meet & greet 😂). I found it a bit stressful and judging by some photos, the concentration on my face was intense! 

Then we did some TTT practice with up to 8 riders in each line. Learning signalling on coming off the front, pacing to join the back and control to keep te pace the same. A few laps of that was a good HR builder! 

Then we did a bit of a race... Starting off with the TTT group format we were asked to pick up the pace over 3 laps then it was anyone's game for the last 2. I stuck working with a couple of ladies for the last 2 laps then made a breakaway on the hill for the half last lap and crossed the line first. I had a very wobbly attempt at a no hand finish.. Well I guess I've got to learn! Stef Wyman gave me 1 bit of crucial advice when I asked at te Matrix Vulpine Pro Cycling team launch- practice your celebrations! 

The heavens opened and we rustled inside for some theory. Here we learnt about the 4 key areas - physical, tactical, technical & very importantly, psychological. Followed by components of fitness: aerobic endurance, speed, strength, power (speed+strength), short term max endurance & flexibility (I'm going to yoga tonight to work on this). 
I found the theory so valuable as it reminded me that it's not just about riding a bike and the strongest rider doesn't always win the race - it's just as much a mind game as it is a leg game. Gotta be a smart cyclist! 

Back out in the grey skies of London we did a few warm up laps again and then it was into race practice!!! 

Down onto the bottom track (no hills 😉) and we had our first race. First 3 laps our experts ride at the front and control the oace, picking it up on each lap. Then the last two it was anyone's game. 

I sat in the pack 1 behind to get the benefit of wind break. 2 laps to go, pace picks up again, I'm still close to the front. A few hairy corners where we aren't used to travelling round close at speed. It was a lot faster than up at the top. 1 lap to go and pace changes, we start thinking about how it'll end. I make a lush for it and go for a solo break about 500yrds to go. Kept looking behind to see if anyone was following. I was out on my lonesome. Just kept pushing and I think I finished with a one arm raise as I was going a bit quicker this time! 

We catch our breath... And Huw tells us we have to do it all again! 4 laps this time (thankfully). And he looks at me... You're not allowed to break away this time! WHAT! ahh! Ok I see. 

Sowe race again. I stay in the pack which he must have known would result in a bunch sprint. 2 riders broke away on the 3rd lap which I wasn't prepared to let go. I communicated to the group under the watch of Tanya at my side and they stuck in my wheel & we closed the gap. 

Successfully we re-grouped and the pace picked up again as we entered in for the finish. With a few 100yrds to go it spiced up a bit as we jostled for position. I got Tania (Cambridge CC) to stay on my wheel in the hope I could deliver her to the front for the sprint. We all pushed harder and harder and crossed the line. I finished in 5 I think..!it was an incredible experience and Iearnt so much! Can't wait for Sunday now... Except te fact it's not 5 laps.. It's 40 miles 😁 

I would highly recommend anyone experienced or not, man or woman. To go do some race training to learn more & build more confidence. 

And if you're a woman in the East... Join the WERL league! 🏆

Friday, 2 January 2015

My first time trial

A bit of background about me, I only started cycling last year after being easily persuaded to do the London to Paris charity bike ride in aid of Ormiston. The 310 mile ride was quite possibly the best decision I have ever made as it gave me the platform to join my local cycling club, meet new people and join in the fun! I had one go at our 9.5mile timetrial last year of my make-shift TT bike. I just put clip-on bars onto my handlebars and suddenly I was “aero” like the rest. Result. I didn’t do too badly (in my opinion – what really counts) but I was hooked. I was itching for more but had to wait for the spring to have a proper crack at it.

With winter over, I have spent most of this year having a go at my local club time trials, they vary between 5 miles and 21 miles, some flat and some “undulating”! I had set myself a goal of trying to win my club’s TT league, but with few women turning up I was racing against myself most of the time but improving nonetheless.

Nearing the end of the year, I volunteered to help out at the E2/10 race with another lady from my club. This was the one down the A11 from Six Mile Bottom. Handing out rider numbers and chatting to a few, I was kind of gutted I couldn’t do it. After a brief discussion with John from Chelmer, he told me that there would be another in a couple of weeks on the same course and I should enter it. Me being me, unsure of my own capabilities, asked what the times were and if I even stood a chance! Thinking about it now though, who cares what my time is, I am racing against myself and it would be my first “proper” TT against cyclists outside of my club.

I literally had no idea who to do it – the application that is. The cycling, well it’s a case of just keep pedalling!! I was lucky that I had a number of guys in my club who were very supportive in helping me sign up – what sites I had to register on etc. Signed up viahttp://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Home paid my sign on fee (much cheaper than sportives that’s for sure), guessed my 10mile time – I had never done a 10mile, only 9.5 or 11. They use your best time on the distance to work out your handicap (I found out after).

20th September 2014 arrived. It was E2/10 day. I was incredibly nervous, but also very excited. I had two of my London to Paris cycling friends (Jo & Sue)coming to do it too which made the event even more exciting. They are both so very supportive and as we hadn’t done this kind of TT before, I guess we were all in the same boat – SCARED. Arriving at the HQ, signed on, we decided we’ll drive the course. It was a good decision as it made us realise just how long 5 miles out and back was, realise it’s not a flat road – like it feels in the car doing 70mph and also terrify me with the amount of lorries and cars on the road. With anxiety already at peak, it started to rain. Oh joy! I’ll be honest, between the three of us there were a couple of comments about still doing it – surely they’d cancel.

We got down to the start line to have a warm up. It was raining quite a lot now. Already soaked from standing in a puddle I pedalled off up the road, getting about 2 miles out then realising that I really need to raise my saddle. I was borrowing a bike from Aprire (London bike company) which I hadn’t ridden before (error no. 1) getting back to my car and realising I didn’t have any allen keys (error no. 2) I borrowed one off a nice couple and raised it slightly. I stopped to check it with one of the guys from my club also doing the TT and said I was starting in about 15 minutes so very little time to tweak or even warm up for that matter. Jo my L2P friend was also having technical difficulties – her gears weren’t working.She was starting a minute after me so was having a bit of a flap too. Jon put me on his turbo and just said spin the legs. This is where I found out that you need different skewers to use on a turbo! I had about 9 minutes. Having a panic I thought ok I‘ll take a gel, this was probably more for the confidence boost than the actual energy as it wouldn’t have fully kicked in by the time I was half way round.

Start line. Jo behind me. Jon supporting from the side. I pushed off up the A11. If I had a heart rate monitor on, I dread to think how high it peaked at that point. Surprisingly though, once I negotiated the transition onto the road, I secured my place in the worn line – on the road, not on the white line which I had originally thought was where you were supposed to ride. Overcoming that fear was a big change point. I was well and truly in the line of traffic. Most of the ride is a bit of a blur, all that was going through my head was my friend Bob saying I could do it in 23minutes. I joked at him and worked out what speed I would need to do to do it in that. Laughing I thought I would never be able to hold 26mph for 10 miles. Never. Coming off the A11 and onto the roundabout was a bit hairy to say the least. And inconsiderate driver undertook me and then stopped in front of me. I had to brake hard and then didn’t have time to change my gears to pull away easily. I wasn’t used to the gears being on the front – I normally ride a road bike with clip-ons remember! Pulling away again round the roundabout sitting upright was hard. Going back down theslip road to join the A11 again, 5 miles to go now. I reluctantly checked what average I was doing, 25mph ish. No way! This gave me a boost. I looked across the dual-carriage way and saw Jo in her bright green Chelmer kit. Another boost – my friendly fear was that she would overtake me. I was also closing on a guy in front. Just keep pedalling. I over took the chap. My average was going up. I could see the finish and just kept trying to push. With my legs not wanting to go any faster I just focussed on crossing the line. A lorry came by very close and blew me onto the white line. Panic and adrenaline kicked in and I dug in. legs burning and eyes (or visor) slightly blurry from the rain. Finish.

Thinking about it now, it was one of the best TT’s I have done. It was out and back. Simple. It was scary, but there was so much support from everyone, the volunteers at sign-on, the guys at the push-off, and at the finish. They explained everything to me.

I came 4th with a time of 23.37. Sue came 1st and Jo came 8th(on a road bike). Unfortunately I didn’t get a handicap win as I hadn’t done a 10mile before so they use a rule figure which made me faster than others. Next time I might get it. But for me, finishing and overcoming the fear of a dual-carriage way TT was a win for me. I cannot wait until next year to do it again (when it’s not raining)! I would highly recommend anyone to give it a go, you don’t need a TT bike, you don’t even need to be claimed to a club, just register on CTT and find one near you, ask friends for advice and get pedalling.

Crash, crash, and crash again

Now I remember why I didn't go out riding last winter in the ice... 

Not one, not two, but three bloomin crashes on one ride! 

There was me thinking, let's go out for a ride with the guys, a nice 80 or so easy winter ride to burn off that Christmas dinner (or the boozing)! 

Woke up late (standard) and rushed around to get to Matt's in time for meet & depart. We were on our way to Comberton from Burwell which was about 18 miles ish. 

We were going at a fairly sprightly pace for a winter morning which was nice. Until that wonderful right hand bend through Barton. 

Before I knew it, I was sliding on my side for a good few seconds at a fairly decent pace. From my Garmin I can guess I was going about 18mph or so. Just seeing the pavement sliding underneath me and the searing pain through my arm and thigh. Being helped off the road on to the path I got that sick feeling, dizzy and in shock. My 2nd only crash. Another rider came down behind me in an attempt to not run over me. We both took a battering. Bikes ok and a moment to assess the damage, ripped jersey and arm warmer as ugh. 
Soldier on, only a mile till we meet the others in Comberton. 

Once grouped up, I made a slight adjustment to my saddle. We were off again. On the knowledge of the crash we took it steady for the first 10 miles or so. Then in Gt Barfield, slippery roads and an already tensed up nervous body on a bike, I felt my wheels sliding around underneath me. And once again my bike went one way and I went another, into the kerb and over on the left. At least I seemed to balance out the pain across my body. 

At this point I wanted to call it a day. Phoned the mother who surprisingly didn't seemed too concerned and suggested I phone my brother who lives nearer. Father didn't answer his phone and brother was looking after my poorly niece. With no rescue and a sinking feeling in my heart I decided I had no choice but to carry on. I didn't want to hold the group up any longer. 

On we went, gingerly. Some areas on the ride we had to get off and walk due to too much ice. 

At a turning point, the three chaps and I decided to call it and make a turn back towards Suffolk, in the know that we were a good 40 miles away. 

Going slowly still, we came across a road which just glistened. I began to slow down to get off my bike and walk. Not wanting to risk my battered body anymore. But it seemed my bike had other ideas. Before I even got to a point of unclipping, about a foot or so from the verge and down I go. All I can think is the camber of the road and the ice underneath my tyres. Wheels went left, I went right. Straight down with full weight onto my elbow. The pain I felt does not compare to anything I have felt before. Crumpled in a heap on the floor, friends came to my aid. I was shocked, in so much pain and mentally exhausted from the two crashes before. 

Luckily in a turn of fate, a couple who just pulled out of their drive down he road saw my sorry state and said we could go back to theirs. Matt called his wife who instantly jumped in the car to come and collect us. The two other Suffolk chaps made a call to be collected too. 

I felt awful, bringing the ride to an abismal  end. A trip to a long wait in a&e and luckily news that my elbow isn't broken. 

I can safely say that I shall never ride in icy weather again! 

Bit of thigh road rash from under DHB thermal tights! 

Got a bit of swell on after a&e 

After a&e 

Latest photo bruising nicely 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Outside the box

Yesterday was a ride full of interesting little events! 
First I popped on my new saddle from Aprire Bicycles - Prologo Kappa DEA! Love it! 
The only problem with getting something new is that it seems to take a little getting used to. For me it seemed I was sitting so wrong on my bike. Maybe it was because I'd got a men's saddle before so I sat differently? Who knows but my god was I uncomfortable for the first 15 miles. 

My legs felt like absolute death too, oh and my lungs were burning. Probably because I'd ran a half marathon on Sunday and they were both screaming for some down time. Oh well. 

I always go for little rides with Matt, he's a good chap! And is happy with me stopping now and then to fiddle with my new bits! Yesterday was no different. After about 15 miles I'd had enough, I wasn't getting any more comfortable - back was hurting (lower back) and my legs felt like they were giving anything out. We stopped and checked my seat height, apparently if you sit on the saddle, have the pedal at the lowest point and see if you can put your heel on it it's a good measure for seat height! Who knew!! 

Ok so I couldn't event get my heel on the pedals smug gearing my seat was way too high! I took it down half a cm, still couldn't reach!! Bloomin eck it must have been way too high - hence back pain! Moved it down a bit more, and it seemed to sit well. 

Off we went - my god did that feel weird, I felt really squished up then. But after a short while I got used to it and my back pain went. 

Lucky for me, the new saddle was a dream to sit on! Less pressure on the 'front' for the ladies reading this! I also felt for the first time that I was actually sitting on my sit bones (the boney bit in your butt) and not... You know where! 

Check out the saddle 

Ok so that picture was taken when... Yes I got a puncture! We were at about 20 miles in. Going really nicely in the evening summer sun! Downhill, about 28mph, BANG! I could feel air rushing round my ankles and I went down the hill. Back wheel started to wobble... Great! Puncture! 

We stopped, had a look at the wheel.. Well that would explain the air I could feel - check out the slice in my tyre! 

A good cm in there! Must have been a bit of flint or something. 

So after taking the tyre off one side, pulled the tube out, checked the tube and there was a lovely 0.5cm whole! We fiddled with the new tube getting it back in, now both dripping with sweat after stopping! Fiddling with my new little pump, and I suddenly thought back to the last time I had a split in a tyre. When we pumped up my tube last time, it went bang pretty much straight away as the tube popped out the hole and pinched. Last time someone had an old bit of tyre they'd kept in their bag and we used that as what they referred to as a 'boot'!! 


I thought, well I don't have a tyre spare, I don't have a cut up tyre, I can't fill it with grass to relieve the pressure around the hole. So... What about tearing the old tube up (with my teeth) and putting a bit inside the tyre between the tyre and the new tube to barrier it. 

Pumped up the tyre - not too high - about 50psi. 

Somehow this little gem of an idea got me home - 8 miles (ish) at still a decent rate. And still got my sweat on! 

30 miles in the bag. Now get me a Thai! 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

How close is close

This weekend I had the pleasure of riding with Aprire Bicycles down in Richmond Park - London. 

It was a great experience, not only to meet the team and check out the bikes of a British Engineered bike company, but go for a ride and learn the ways of riding 'close'! 
Over the past year I've been picking up bits of information on how to 'race', but with few local riders about to help me practically learn the ways, it was great to get out down South. In events that I have done (triathlons and Sportives) it's always quite unnerving because you don't know how other competitors ride & sometimes they can be unpredictable which makes passing quite problematic!! 

We started off heading over to Richmond Park. Phil had set me up on one of the new Aprire Celeste road bikes - super light! Check their range out here : www.aprirebicycles.co.uk @aprirebicycles 

Once we got to Richmond Park, chatting away and before I new it we were riding side by side and handlebars nearly touching! Strangely though I didn't feel nervous about being knocked off, maybe it was because I knew that Phil is a good rider with lots of experience.

He explained that in a race, I would likely be riding at this distance for most of it. Then he ride closer and our hands / bars tapped *panic*! But it was ok! I guess it's that unknowing, if you've never ridden close, you assume as soon as someone touched your bike you'll immediately push off and crash! 

It's definitely something I need to practice as we weren't exactly going super fast but after a few laps and flowing conversation, riding close became 'normal'. It definitely pays to have someone experienced riding with you though to:
1) put you at ease that they're not going to do anything stupid and
2) explain what is going on, how to avoid incident & remain strong in a pack. 

My goal is to get to a point where I can ride balanced at that distance and come off the bars. To be able to comfortably take off a jacket without stopping, and chat relaxed on a ride at pace and with the occasionally touching of bars. 

Watch this space (small space 😆) 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Whoa that has been a weird few weeks... In summary I've raced my first sea triathlon Olympic distance down in Portsmouth which was AWESOME. And I've had a week off of doing nothing really other than preparing for my new job that started this week. 

Portsmouth was hard. The sea swim took more out of me than I anticipated. I finished in 49 minutes which felt like a day. Running up the pebble beach and then along to transition was a fair way too. 

I was looking forward to the bike leg but once clipped in I just felt awful. My stomach was churning, I felt tired and dehydrated. For the first time ever I was looking forward to getting OFF my bike.  I couldn't tell if it was a new tri suit (club one) that was making me so uncomfortable. I just wanted off.

On the run, I tried 3 times to find a toilet which I knew was eating into my time but I just needed to pee! I knew I wouldn't finish if I didn't find a loo and finally after several deviations and a chat to the water marshals I found them. The next 7km went quicker. I found my stride, got passed by an older lady who I then stuck on the heels of. 3km to go and I decided to go past her & just run my socks off. Crossing the line with a 10km PB of 58 minutes I was chuffed. 

It was an Olympic PB so also happy with that. However my plan of doing Cambridge triathlon has been scuppered due to the cancellation as the water is below standard - containing Wiles disease. So now I'm on the hunt for my final Olympic tri and currently looking at Hever Castle. Although it really is pricey! 

Friday, 29 August 2014

The last TT, PB & league winner

Wednesday was a sad day :( the last club time trial of 2014 - except the Hill Climb which I can race as I'm conveniently on a hen do 😆 

I had over the last two weeks or so suddenly got this insane competitive urge. I sat and trawled through the club records online (although they only go back to 2011) to find out what the records were for the women's times on all our courses. Making a list of course, time and rider, I found that I am about a minute off or just under. 

Having made adjustments to the bike mentioned in my last post, I wasn't 100% confident in getting a good time at the time trial. But hey ho, last one and only 5 miles. Give it a bash :) 

Unfortunately with nights drawing in the TT start times get earlier. Even leaving work earlier I was still rushed to get there. Banana shoved in my mouth & a swift journey over to Fordham. Join the queue to sign on. Quite a lot of riders tonight!! 

I think I did about 3 miles warm up (not enough) but I didn't want to risk musing my time. 

Number 23 tonight. In my mind I was thinking about the records. The last time I did Fordham I did 14.04. The record is 12.38. Whoosh!!

However knowing at the start line that there were traffic lights on the course, chances of people getting PB's were slim. Few female riders too that night. 

Off I go and I swear, but even a mile down the road and my legs were feeling like lead. Click to a lighter gear just to rotate them faster (increase cadence I think it's called). 
Turn the corner, I got a good line. Look down at my Garmin, 28mph! Major confidence boost. Kick on Rusty. 
2.5miles down, think I was averaging 22-23 mph at that point. But knowing the headwind was on the way back there was little chance of me improving that. 
Nearing the lights, Rory (who had passed me at about 3 miles) was in my sight. He was slowing for the lights, I pressed on and timed it perfectly, I went through green, looked left and they had just turned amber. Perfect! Now crack on! 
4miles, ish 12min something. Not going to get there in 30 seconds! But try and get as close as I can. I see Matt who went off before me. I gain on him & we cross the line at the same time. 
13.05. HAPPY DAYS! It's not the curse record, but that's the long term goal. It's a good 59second PB! 

I'm now beginning to wonder what the possibilities are if I stop / slow down triathlon and focus on cycling!! 

To top it off, I have secured my place at the top of the women's league in our club time trials (although few members took part). But I guess, you can only race against those that rock up on the day and as long as I push myself to beat my own times, I'm happy.