Tag Archives: cycling

Monday Morning Motivation – What are you going to do this week?

1 Feb

I'm slow, but I'm lapping everyone on the couch

Remember that doing something, no matter how slowly, will take you a step closer to your goals.

What are you going to do this week?

How far would you go to improve your race time?

14 Jul

Cycling Weekly has written about 13 ways to increase your average cycling speed, with their 13 tips being:

  1. Bend and tuck elbows
  2. Listen to music (*this has some caveats!)
  3. Ride with others
  4. Pump up your tyres
  5. Brake less
  6. Ride on the drops
  7. Track stand
  8. Ride out in a headwind and home in a tailwind
  9. Lose weight
  10. Intervals
  11. Build muscle
  12. Aerobike and/or wheels
  13. Tighter clothing

I have to admit that several of these I don’t do as much as I should, but others (such as lose weight and build muscle), I’m working on… but what I found more interesting was an article in Triathlon: ‘Secrets of the wind tunnel‘.

The secrets that the article reveals are that marginal gains can be made by tweaking:
  • helmet
  • wheels
  • arm position
  • kit

with a much larger gain (hopefully for hairy blokes, rather than fairly hairless ladies, like me) being by shaving your lower legs.

Do you (or your partner) shave your legs for the purpose of riding more quickly (and not just in the hope of avoiding road rash)?


Top 10 things not to eat whilst cycling

4 Nov

This was so funny that I had to share it:

Global Cycling Network is a great channel to subscribe to on YouTube. There is a combination of humorous videos and ones with useful and informative content. Here are a couple of other videos that amused me:

If you’ve an hour to spare, you might want to watch ‘Ride of my life: the story of the bicycle’

This is a BBC4 documentary where author Rob Penn travels around the world collecting hand-built parts for his dream bicycle and charts the social history of one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

Six ferries, 100km, seven mad people and a few kilos of cheese…

15 Jul

Exactly a year ago today, I went on a brilliant adventure with a group of friends (aka Bike Gang). I part wrote a blog post and by the time I got around to finishing it, the spontaneity was lost, so I decided that I’d schedule it for a year on from the event, so here it is…

Ferry 1: Southampton to Hythe

Our days started fairly early, when we met at Town Quay to catch our first ferry to Hythe.

Piers at ferry terminal

Piers buying his ticket to Hythe at the ferry terminal

We had to buy our tickets from machines and had just enough time to buy some drinks before the ferry arrived.

Caffeine starter

Caffeine starter… Liz (the photographer) hadn’t had hers yet and hence was rather shaky!

It wasn’t long before the ferry arrived. I was surprised by how small it was and was glad that there weren’t many other passengers as our bikes took up quite a lot of room!

Boarding the Hythe ferry

Boarding the Hythe ferry

Hythe ferry

As you can see, it was my last big adventure on my work/commuting bike. The others all had road bikes (although Liz had a pannier, because she needed somewhere to store her sandwiches!) My double panniers and hybrid bike meant that I had the heaviest bike to ride.

Ferry to Hythe

Ferry to Hythe

Ferry to Hythe

Ferry to Hythe

It was a short and smooth crossing, and we were pleased that the sun was shining brightly.

Once we got off the ferry, we had a short ride from Hythe to Lymington. It wasn’t long before there was a split in the group – Stu, Suzanne, Emily and Piers were at the front of the group, whereas Katherine, Liz and I were lagging behind slightly. We came to a fork in the road and weren’t sure where to go. Unfortunately, we realised that the speedy cyclists had gone the wrong way and were on the other side of a level crossing where the barriers were down. Katherine set off to track down the others, giving Liz and I enough time to pose for some selfies!

Brief stoppage to retrieve the speedy cyclists who went the wrong way
Brief stoppage to retrieve the speedy cyclists who went the wrong way

Ferry 2: Lymington to Yarmouth

Ferry number 2 - Lymington to Yarmouth

We regrouped at the ferry terminal and had a quick snack after we bought our tickets. Some kind German tourists took a group photo for us.

Setting sail from Lymington

Setting sail from Lymington

It was a beautifully warm day, so we enjoyed sitting out on deck and enjoying the sun. Liz finished off her luncheon and we all looked longingly at Lymington lido, which looked glorious in the sunshine.

Lymington sea baths (taken from the ferry)

sailing to yarmouth

Sailing to Yarmouth

When we arrived in Yarmouth, we had the main bike ride of the day ahead of us (about 20k). It was getting hot and I realised that I definitely had a disadvantage with my heavy bike as there seemed to be lots of hills and we never seemed to go down any of them!

Quick rest stop before a giant hill

Quick rest stop before a giant hill

In Cowes, we decided that it was time to refuel for lunch. I decided to go for a light salad and was relieved when I saw the size of everyone else’s portions. Emily had a cheese ploughmans with two pieces of bread and enough cheese to feed a whole family for a week!!!

Emily had a little cheese sandwich in Cowes

Emily had a little cheese sandwich in Cowes

It took a while for us to finish our food and digest it enough to get going again.

The gang

The gang

Ferry 3: West Cowes to East Cowes

It was then a short cycle to the chain ferry, so that we could get to the other side of Cowes. It took a while for the ferry to arrive and even I thought I might be able to swim to the other side faster than it took the ferry to get there… but the water was dirty and I can’t swim with my bike!

Cowes chain ferry

Cowes chain ferry

When the ferry arrived, we had to sit inside, which was a little stinky and warm, but we knew we’d only be on the ferry for a few minutes.

Bike Gang on Cowes chain ferry

Bike Gang on Cowes chain ferry

When we left the ferry, it was a short (8-10k) ride to Fishbourne, where we had a short wait for the ferry to Portsmouth, so we decided to relax in the shade for a while. (A ferry was just leaving as we got there, but we weren’t quite fast enough to get on it and didn’t feel that we were in a hurry as we were having such a fun time).

A little rest before teh ferry from Cowes to Portsmouth

Ferry 4: Fishbourne to Portsmouth

Finally, we were on the fourth ferry of our adventure.

Looking down on our bikes on the Cowes to Portsmouth ferry

Looking down on our bikes on the Cowes to Portsmouth ferry

We enjoyed sitting on the top deck of the ferry and feeling the breeze.

Ferry 5: Portsmouth to Gosport

After we left Gosport, we had another 20k ride to get to Warsash. It was a beautifully warm day and the sea looked so inviting that most people went in for a swim… I didn’t want to have to ride my bike with wet shorts on, so I just paddled. Katherine loved it and didn’t want to leave the water… you can only see her feet in the picture below.

A quick dip

A quick dip

Ferry 6: Warsash to Hamble

We realised that we were cutting it rather fine to make it to the last ferry at Hamble as it was scheduled to leave at 6pm. We sent the fastest cyclists ahead, whilst Liz and I did our best at the back. Fortunately, Suzanne and Piers made it on time and we found that there were a few other people who also wanted to catch a ferry, so the boatman agreed that he would make an extra journey to be able to transport all of us across. This gave us some time to be able to take some photos of the cute waiting room.

Waiting for the ferry in Warsash

It was difficult to squeeze all of us and our bikes onto the ferry, but the boatman managed it.

Warsash ferry

Warsash ferry

The Warsash ferry

The Warsash ferry

All aboard the Warsash ferry

All aboard the Warsash ferry

It felt quite sad when we finally got off the ferry in Hamble as it seemed as though our adventure was over.

Leaving the final ferry in Hamble

Leaving the final ferry in Hamble

Fortunately, we had one last opportunity for a group photo, with Dani King’s gold post box. (Dani King is a cyclist who won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics).

Dani King's gold postbox in Hamble

Dani King’s gold postbox in Hamble

If you’re ever in this area and have a day that you can spend with your bike, I’d strongly recommend trying this route. It was great fun and even with all of the ferries it only cost about £25.

Turbo training at home

28 May

Coach Ant had set me an hour of cycling with a reasonably long warm up and a long cool down with the mid section being an attempt to work out what my 20km TT pace might be. I spent a long time creating a playlist to help me get in the mood for the race and managed to get in a very unattractive selfie whilst cooling down!

New Silvini top

‘New’ Silvini top

A lot of my clothes are in the wash, so I wore my Decathlon bib shorts and a ‘new’ Silvini top. I like the look of the bib shorts, but the chamois is like a nappy (diaper) and I don’t find them very comfortable. The ‘new’ cycling top is one that I bought last year, but have never worn before. I definitely think I need to lose a few pounds before I wear it out of the house, but as it’s mainly white it helped to keep me cool.

Whilst I was pedalling away, someone arrived to collect a portable TV, DVD player and freeview box that I had put on freecycle. Stu answered the door to him and he seemed surprised to see me on my bike, but I didn’t want to stop. I later found out that the poor guy had arrived on his bike and had to cycle home with an old-style TV under his arm!

Day 4 of Pyrenees Tri Camp with Embrace Sports – the day when I crashed my bike

4 May

Day 4 started with a swim in the lake. We started off with some drills:

  • crocodile eyes sighting
  • raised head sighting for when there are waves
  • turn onto back to view others
  • 90 degree turns

The image below shows us practising turning around some markers (Graeme and Alan). Unfortunately, the continuing pain in my arm/shoulder meant that I found it very difficult. I tried to do some front crawl, but ended up doing 400m of kicking only. Fortunately, the temperature of the lake was quite pleasant, so it didn’t matter too much that I was only moving slowly.


The next activity was a long ride to Bagneres. The coaches had some fun taking  photos – Graeme has amazing balance and coordination!

Cycling up Palomieres

Cycling up Col de Palomieres

Towards Palomieres


After a short climb, we regrouped for a photo in front of Col de Tourmalet, one of the most famous climbs from the Tour de France.

View of Tourmalet from palomieres

At this point, the group divided, with Stu in the faster group and me in the slower group. We cycled to the top of Col de Palomieres, which had beautiful views, so we stopped for a few photos.


Col de Palomieres

Not content with ordinary photos, we also managed to create a human pyramid (although I struggled with my bad arm, which is why I look a bit squashed!)

Second celebratory pyramid


Unfortunately, the next section, where we started heading down the mountain, was where my holiday went wrong…

I had been concerned about my arm pain as it was difficult for me to grip the handle bars and brake. I realised that my speed was creeping over 40kmph, which might not sound fast to most people, but it was not something that I enjoyed. I tried to brake, but realised that I was not losing any speed. This made me feel stressed and I had to think of an action plan. I was getting faster and faster and could see a hairpin bend ahead. I realised that there were several options:

  • continue going down the mountain and hope that I would slow (unlikely)
  • continue going down the mountain knowing that I might not turn the corner and would therefore go over something even steeper (likely)
  • bail by hitting the only hedge in the vicinity

It was a tough decision as I knew that I was likely to get injured, no matter which option I chose, however, I was absolutely terrified of the consequences if I didn’t stop, so I had to take some action. After some of the longest and most frightening seconds of my life, I went into the hedge.

I remember screaming in fear, but I can’t say exactly what happened next except for a sharp pain in my arm. I hit the hedge and then just lay on the ground feeling completely dazed and breathless.

It wasn’t long before Kat and Alex caught up with me. I opened my eyes and saw one of my SOAS bottles rolling away, but that wasn’t my primary concern at that time. Kat sent Alex down to get Graeme and then encouraged me to sit up, but I was still in such a state of shock that I just wanted to lie still for a few seconds.

After about a minute, I sat up and then got up. I pulled my bike from the hedge and could see that I had entirely buckled the handlebars. Kat encouraged me to walk down the hill with her, so I started walking. She offered to take my damaged bike, but I was too afraid that I would drop her bike, so I continued with my bike. It quickly became clear that there was a problem with the brakes, so I tried to adjust them… but then I realised that I had buckled the wheel. In order to continue walking with my bike, I had to open the quick release mechanism on the brakes.

It didn’t take long before Graeme came back to us, so Kat continued down to the rest of the group. Graeme straightened out my handlebars and sorted out the brakes. I was still feeling panicky and was struggling to breathe, so I needed to use my inhaler. I realised that I had lost my water bottle, but didn’t want to cause any more fuss – fortunately, my Garmin was still attached, although it was at a strange angle. I walked a short distance with Graeme to where the rest of the group was waiting.

I managed to get back on my bike, although I could see some large bruises emerging. Kat and Graeme told me that there was still some of the incline to go. I then looked down the path, but realised that just the thought of heading downhill made me feel sick with panic and fear. I wanted to get off my bike, but didn’t manage to unclip in time, so for the third time this week, I hit the deck. I toppled to my right hand side and tried to avoid my injured elbow and shoulder, so managed to whack my head on the ground.

Lou was very sweet and came rushing up to help me up. I felt really stupid and as if I had failed, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get back on my bike because I was gripped by fear.

Kat called Neil who agreed that as soon as they got back he would come and pick me up. he rest of the group continued with the ride, whilst Kat and I removed our shoes and  started walking down the hill. I agreed that I would cycle up any hills that we got to. There were a few downhill sections, but unless they were very gentle and I could see the road ahead, I had to walk. I felt like such a failure, but was also in pain and really frightened.

It didn’t take too long for Neil to come back and pick me up. We put my bike in the van and Kat decided to continue with the ride, as she needed to get some training in.

When we were nearing Barthes de Neste, we saw Graeme and Lou, so I didn’t arrive back at the farmhouse much before the others.

It was a beautiful day, which didn’t really match my mood.


By the time I got back, my bruises were really starting to appear.

My left leg has a bruise the side of my hand on it.

My left leg has a bruise the side of my hand on it.

The worst bruise is on the inside of my right knee (and there are also bruises all of the way down the front of my right shin)

The worst bruise is on the inside of my right knee (and there are also bruises all of the way down the front of my right shin)

The outside of my right knee is also bruised

The outside of my right knee is also bruised

My leg hurt quite a bit, but not as much as my shoulder, so I decided that it would be prudent not to run.

Jose helping to fix my bike

Jose helping to fix my bike © Embrace Sports

In the evening, Alan and Neil served up some delicious Thai curries…

Thai curry night

… and we all stayed outside to admire the sunset.

Sunset at the farmhouse

Sunset at the farmhouse

Col de Tourmalet could be seen clearly

Col de Tourmalet could be seen clearly

Some of us went down to the road to get a better look at the views.


It was at this point that I realised that although I was in beautiful surroundings, it was not the right holiday for me. The level of challenge was too great and I had failed 😦