bike

Week 7

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Week 7

4 runs – 3 short (including a lovely run home!), 1 long

2 rides – 1 road, 1 turbo

1 swim

1 brick session – bike / run

3 short and sweet core sessions and of course more yoga

Things I have learnt this week? 

When talking to my cycling / tri friends the benefits of having a “bike fit” were mentioned just a few times (!?!) and after doing some research I could see why.  A bike fit looks to help you be as efficient and comfortable as possible whilst in the saddle, improving your overall riding experience.  However, it would appear that in most places this comes at quite the price!

I bought my bike at Evans, I have had it serviced at Evans, I have been to maintenance classes run by them and so I was delighted to see that they are now offering bike fits for as little as £45.  I have had nothing but great service from these guys and the bike fit was no exception.  After having a few measurements taken, including sitting on a special pad to give a bum imprint (!?) I was asked to hop on my bike (clipped into a turbo) so I could be filmed.  Rhys (my bike fit man) showed me the video highlighting the various lines my body was creating and how, if adjusted, I could be a lot more efficient in the saddle and hopefully a little more comfortable.  So, with small adjustments to my saddle, handlebars etc I then hopped back on the bike to be filmed again.  Straightaway I could feel the difference and looking at the film was quite shocking, the tiny changes to the height etc made a huge difference to how I sat in the saddle!

 

The fit lasted an hour and I came away extremely excited to get on the saddle and sail home.  Obviously I am sure the more expensive fits are fantastic and offer a lot more in terms of analysis but if like me you are new to this whole cycling / triathlon thing and don’t want to spend £100s then I could not recommend the Evans service enough!!

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Croissant the Channel

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So if you didn’t know recently I cycled to Paris.  To Paris from London with 5 friends and my brother who I don’t think even knew what lycra was until a few months back.

In hope of raising some money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who amazingly saved one of our friends a few years back, my big bro and another friend thought “why not try and cycle to Paris”.  Fast forward one year later and there were 7 of us standing on my favourite bridge of London (Tower Bridge) ready to start a journey to the next tower The Eiffel Tower.IMG_1654

Helped by the invaluable blog posts from Charlie – particularly her packing list (it’s amazing how you can easily forget that you will need your passport) I am extremely pleased to say that as a team we successfully made it to Paris agreeing that this was an experience of a lifetime and one we will NEVER forget.  Ceri has written a great blow by blow account of the trip over on her blog so I thought I would just offer my top tips in case you fancy getting ON’ER BIKE!

1. Pack light!  Like I said we used Charlie’s packing list as a guide but a few members of the group still went a little overboard on the packing which made their bikes INCREDIBLY HEAVY!  If, like us, you are planning to do the trip in the summer then the quicker you get used to the fact that you are going to get sweaty, dirty, smelly etc etc the better.  I took bare minimum.  My toiletries, for instance, consisted of suncream, babywipes, deodorant, a toothbrush and lip salve.  Someone may have brought an entire washbag … just saying it’s not the most glamorous I have looked but the less weight the better.

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My life was in my little backpack … including a “fancy” change of shoes and dress for Paris ;D

2. Bring food  So whilst knocking back the red wine in Paris we discussed the different but equally important roles we all played in ensuring our safe arrival.  My invaluable role appeared to be getting everyone to “have a nibble”.  Cycling to Paris, in the summer, means heat, hills, long days and apparently minimal amounts of open shops.  You may not feel hungry whilst cycling but it amazing how much you burn whilst doing 60+ miles a day up and down pretty impressive hills.  You may also find, as we did, that a lot of places in France seem to close during the days, not really offering much opportunity to grab nibbles en route.  We were stocked to the brims with 9Bars, Soreen, gels, nuts, dried fruit, crisps and a couple of sneaky extras (mainly in the form of haribo picked up at the Carrefour!).  Little and often is ABSOLUTELY KEY, and if at all possible bring a variety of snacks to save you getting sick of the same thing!  My personal favourites during the trip were a couple of the new Cocoa Kick 9bars (but more on these another time!) oh and those and the mille-feuille we had in Marines

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3. Choose an amazing BnB for your second night.  After two days of cycling you are going to be tired, your bum is going to hate you … never mind anything else … and so a good rest and a bit of treat will do your mind, body and soul a world of good.  When I say a bit of treat … our team chose Chambres du Confiturier.  A family run, beautiful, BnB roughly half way between Dieppe and Paris, perfectly catered for tired, smelly, HUNGRY cyclists, this place was incredible.

We were firstly shown to a huge shed to store our bikes, full of tools and equipment should we need to tweak anything or pump our tires and then we were led to our rooms, our beautiful, beautiful rooms – so beautiful in fact that we all jumped straight in the showers before we touched anything so not to dirty it.  Following this we then reclined in the large garden with a glass of locally sourced red wine whilst watching the sun go down.

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Then came the food, the most incredible 4 course meal (starter, main, cheese, dessert) all made with ingredients freshly picked from the garden.  I thought dinner was good … then came breakfast the next morning … I could literally have just stayed there with all the pancakes, homemade loaves, jams and museli …   Marie absolutely spoilt us and I could not recommend this place more!

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Ready for the final day after an amazing stay at Chambres du Confiturier !

4. Remember you are team  – One of the reasons this trip was so memorable, a side from the fact that we actually managed to cycle from London to Paris (!?) was that we did it as a team.  We spurred each other on up those grewling hills and clapped when one by one we made it to the top, we were mindful when each of us went through a little less than positive moment, we shared stupid jokes and stories as distractions and always made sure we were feed and watered ;D.  Our group was of mixed abilities, some could power up hills, some were not afraid of absolutely flying downhills but there was not one point on this journey we were were split (well apart from when one of us had to do a wild wee in a very public space).  This trip would not have been anywhere near as amazing if it wasn’t for the people I rode with and I could not have done it without them :D!

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To be honest as someone who first tried cycling back in March this year due to an injury preventing me from running I am still shocked that I have actually just cycled to Paris, I mean on bike from London to Paris.  But what is more amazing is that I got to watch my brother, who I am sure will not mind me saying NEVER does any exercise, do it right by my side (most the time ;D)  I could not recommend doing this trip enough.  I know there are people who do this in 24 hours and that is truly incredible but in my eyes by doing it over numerous days you really get to enjoy what it feels like to cycle on big open roads in the middle of France and really soak in the incredible experience.

Let’s be honest if team #croissantthechannel can do it SO CAN YOU!  And please do get in touch if you have any questions or want any advice 😀

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otherwise all that is left for me to say is

BONNE CHANCE!

 

Wet and Wild: Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge

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An opportunity arose to take part in an open water triathlon and as much I would have preferred a little more time between my first and second I thought it would be silly to not have a go and see how I get on in my first open water event! SO…

Human Race Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge

  • Date/Time: Sunday 12th June
  • Distance: = 400m swim, 21.2km cycle, 5km run

Held at the Olympic rowing venue, Dorney Lake it was quite exciting to walk up to the event village and see the Olympic Rings in the distance (if not a little daunting!) With race pack collected and numbers stuck in their correct places (triathlons have so many numbers and such strict placement rules so thanks to Paulie here for, as always, sorting this whilst I try and pretend to be totally cool and calm) it was time to get ready – wetsuit or no wetsuit?

With about 70% of people wearing them we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to just “practice” with the suit.  It’s not that I don’t like wearing my wetsuit, in fact I love my new Orca suit but it was the getting the thing off that worried me.  However, following some advice on Twitter I had brought some baby oil, so slathered some Johnson & Johnson on my wrists and ankles and “slipped” my wetsuit on.

Lining up to head into the water … look at those clouds! Have I mentioned it was wet yet?

Heading into the water I tried to remain calm.  I knew I could swim the distance but you hear so many stories of kicking, elbows, missing teeth!  Eurgh!  HOWEVER, whilst treading water waiting for the start, we were given an informative and funny race briefing by a hugely enthusiastic race marshal and it seriously helped calm my nerves.  A HUGE thank you to that man.  When the air horn went it was busy, I did have to be careful initially of people around me but then whilst singing “under the sea” thanks to some twitter chat earlier on I just swam, kept spotting the orange blobs otherwise known as buoys and tried to forget about the people around me.  Compared to the manic splashing about in the Henley indoor section this was actually quite calm.  The weeds and other things did create some little “moments” but generally it felt amazing to be swimming outdoors, warm and well, happy and apparently it showed as I clocked my fastest 400m swim yet!

By this point it’s worth mentioning that the rain was really coming down and the clouds were getting darker and darker.

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I slipped my wetsuit off no problem – THANK YOU BABY OIL – but trying to dry my feet whilst it was chucking it down became a bit of a problem!  So I talc’ed as much as I could. inhaled some Soreen, grabbed my helmet and made my way over to the mount line.  I knew I had taken longer than needed but hey – it’s practice.  Over the mount like the 13 mile cycle started, and the rain came down even harder!

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The cycle sees you do 4 laps around the lake, it’s tarmac, its unbroken, pretty flat and you have no cars to contend with.  HOWEVER, the clouds were menacing, the headwind was real and the rain created a laugh or cry situation, it just didn’t stop, in fact it got heavier and heavier and heavier.  But what was amazing were the supporters and marshals along the route.  Regardless of the incredibly AWFUL weather the marshals were still out clapping, encouraging us on and the supporters were a plenty too, including my very own incredible one man support team who I saw every single loop and who managed to put a beaming smile on my face each time!

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Coming to the end of the final lap I knew my trainers were filled with water and that the run was going to be interesting however I came over to the dismount line, hooked my bike up, scoffed more banana bread, waved at Paulie, then headed off for the run which would see us go up along the lake and back, twice.

Now usually I am not a fan of an out and backs but I absolutely, 100%, bloody loved every minute of this run.  I LOVED it and it can be seen in every photo Mr. Paulie Roche took.

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This run saw you join lots of other women all different ages, shapes and sizes running, encouraging each other on and just getting the race done.  I saw lots of the women I started the swim with and one by one we high fived and spurred each other on :D!  Regardless of the rain (yes it was still coming down and yes the sky was black) supporters were still dotted all along the out and back and were fabulous, just fabulous!  At the end of the “out ” you do quick U-turn where three drenched marshals stood cheering and clapping – I thought it was impressive that they were still managing to be upbeat!  Coming up to the finish line I pushed for a sprint finish as my legs felt, well great, I mean don’t get me wrong I was tired but I was just so happy!

Finishing my second triathlon, receiving my medal and seeing Paulie with that grin cemented the fact that I love this sport.  Triathlon’s are scary, I mean really scary.  They are hard, there are so many things to think about and they definitely bring out all the pre race nerves but they are incredible events that seem to bring together a wonderfully supportive crowd.

The Human Race Shock Absorber Challenge was a fantastic, well organised, well staffed event that could have only been made better if the rain hadn’t have been so consistent.  I finished my race in 1hour32 and I could not be happier.  I know that I have elements I need to work on and that is totally fine with me because I cannot wait to tackle these and see what can be achieved next year!!!!!

He made me do it …

Thank you Human Race for offering the opportunity to take part in this event and thank you for making it such an incredible day.

 

 

Trying a Triathlon – Henley-on-Thames Triathlon

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So as mentioned in my previous post when I could finally move around after being injured running long was still out of the question so I took up cycling and swimming to stop myself going mad.  I enrolled onto a swimming course led by Chris (which I cannot recommend enough) as I knew my technique could do with some work and inspired by the wonderful book that is Tricurious I decided to enter my first triathlon (thanks to winning a competition on Lucy’s blog).

Henley-On-Thames Triathlon

  • Date/Time: Sunday 21st June
  • Distance: Sprint = 400m swim – 25km cycle – 5km run

The first hurdle was working out how and when to “practice” all three disciplines.  This was mainly done through trial and error, for instance trying to swim after a weights session the day before – your shoulders will hate you.  (However, it has to be said the organised part me of me secretly loved the challenge of making things work and fit in with the rest of my life.)

When the day finally came to say I was nervous was an understatement, in fact I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was walking around the event site.  I have never been to a triathlon before, never mind competed in one and I found it all a little bit daunting.  However, after finally working out where all the numbers, labels etc go …

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I headed over to the pool for the swim.  Now, I thought it was a good thing that the swim was indoors, open water swimming is still new to me where as I have spent hours in the pool HOWEVER it was manic!

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unconvinced face …

With people being set off every 10 secs and with everyone having to do 16 lengths of what felt like a tiny indoor pool I was kicked, stroked, over taken, under taken and swallowed more water than I care to remember.

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On finishing in the pool I ran out, slightly shakey and high on adrenaline/nerves found my bike and started to towel down my feet.  Whilst sat getting ready for the 15 mile cycle people were chatting away asking advice, sharing tips and just well, being friendly.  It has to be said that the atmosphere was a lot less intimidating once the race had started.

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Just having a sit down and a chat.

With my trainers on, piece of Banana Bread inhaled, and helmet clipped up I took my bike and ran over to the mount line.  I should mention here that hiliariously it took me three attempts to actually get my leg over my bike.  Yes three, my bike frame is high and my legs were so shakey – much to the amusement of the marshals and Paulie.

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The marshal is still laughing!

Once on the bike however I was comfortable and tried to remain calm.  The first hill took me a little by surprise, however turning the last corner before the second lap we were confronted with a far bigger, steeper, more demanding hill, which we all cursed and grunted our way up!  Again it was really nice to hear so many people chatting along the route and offering support to fellow racers.  For the second lap I was prepared and steamed up that hill as quickly as possible, the faster you go, the faster it’s over and followed the signs to turn into the dismount area.  This is where I finally saw Paulie, who had been MIA since the swim – unfortunate timed loo break meant he missed me during the cycling loop – but in the excitement of seeing him I nearly missed the dismount line and came to a skidding holt!

Off the bike and into the second transition area, I had a few moments of “WHERE THE HELL IS MY STUFF” then spotted my Run Dem vest, hooked up the bike, unclipped the helmet, wolfed yet more banana bread – Soreen you are my hero – and then off I went on the run.  The run comprised of 4 laps of what appeared to be a school’s sport field.  As someone who HATED sport at school this didn’t do wonders for my mental game but the sun was out and the 4 laps meant that I would see my one person cheer team lots!  I flew through the first lap with my legs feeling great, even with the grassy ground (wasn’t prepared for that) and the slight undulation.  However by the end of the third lap I really was done and gave poor Paulie a very evil stare as he enthusiastically cheered me on.  However I was close to finishing my first, official triathlon and I wanted to make that sprint finish, so I did – I absolutely powered through and even got a shout out over the tanoy.

 

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To finish my first triathlon felt absolutely amazing and I was totally overwhelmed when I found out I placed 6th in my category.  I loved taking part in this event and could not recommend it enough for anyone who wants to try a tri!

For anyone who is thinking about a tri here are a few pointers that I have learnt …

1. Buy TRICURIOUS!  It will give you a great insight to the world of triathlons and offer a world of advice!

2. Buy a race belt!  You are given so many numbers and there are so many rules its just easier to have something to clip on for the cycle and for the run rather than having to change safety pins, think about tops etc etc, believe me you have a lot of other things to think about!

3. Bring Talc, it was recommended to me and it was a savoir.  It helped dry my feet and prevented any unwanted rubbing!

4. Bring pre cut foods to munch during transitions.  It found it really handy to have little tuppawears to just open and nibble whist getting changed, rather than packets to open, rubbish to worry about etc …

5.  ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE DOING.  Particularly if it’s your first one, triathlons are a huge learning curve so just enjoy the experience and revel in the fact that you are doing something amazing!

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Oh and I celebrated by shoving my face with cake 🙂

 

PS. Big thank you to my partner in crime Paulie Roche for taking all these horrendous photos … ;D and being a truly wonderful one man CheerDem!