Tag Archives: Vankru

Up and… walking

24 Nov

It’s been a while since I posted, and for good reason:

Morgelyn

Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan, so my baby was born nearly two weeks late via emergency caesarean. She’s thriving, but I’ve had some ups and downs and was readmitted to hospital. Hopefully, that’s behind us now and we can start moving forward.

ParkLives logo

I’m not allowed to run, swim, cycle or drive until 6 weeks after M’s birth, so no sports until 10th December 😦 However, this does mean that I have time to do some planning. I’ve signed up for ParkLives which offers free outdoor fitness classes in a number of parks across the UK. I’ve chosen to sign up for ‘Buggy Mums’ which takes place at 11:30am on Tuesdays on Southampton Common and 11:30am on Wednesdays at Weston Shore. I’m not sure whether the classes are exactly what I want to do, but they are free and are somewhere that I can meet other mums:

“Buggyfit fitness classes for mums and children are an hour long, and usually involve a 3 mile route in total. Classes start with a moderate warm up walk, moving into a power walk or run to raise our heart rates. Each session includes group exercises specifically to the individual selected to strengthen particular muscle groups, and enable us to cope with the demands of motherhood. We finish off with a cool down and stretch.”

A week after M was born, we went to our first parkrun, but we didn’t take part, we just watched and cheered others on. The following weekend, we missed out on parkrun as everyone in our house needed a lie in, so last Saturday, we finally got to take part in our first parkrun together.

When choosing a buggy, Stuart and I opted for an Out N About Nipper Sport. It is primarily a running buggy, and although it is not possible to run with a baby under 6 months old (or before they have enough strength to support their own head), this buggy can be used to transport babies from birth.

Out N About Nipper Sport

It is quite a large pushchair, but it is light and suprisingly manoeuvrable. Possibly the only downside is that it is forward facing, so I can’t easily see my baby whilst exercising.

My view when walking with my buggy

I agreed that Stuart would complete parkrun at his own pace and I would walk it. I knew that this would mean that he would complete the run and be able to join me for my second loop.

It was difficult to know what to wear for this parkrun. I usually run in shorts all year around, so I thought I would be OK wearing leggings, however, it was really cold, so I ended up layering up with tracksuit trousers, a hoodie and a running jacket. I also added a beanie and gloves for good measure… this turned out to be too much, so I had to remove several items of clothing whilst walking.

This was also the first chance that I had to try out my new trainers. Millet Sports sent me a pair of Hoka One One Bondi 4 to try out. Although I can’t run, I thought I could at least find out how comfortable they were by wearing them for walking in. So far, I’m very pleased with them – I’ll post a full review later when I’ve been able to run in them.

Hoka One One Bondi 4

For much of the parkrun, I was with the tail runner, who was surprised by how quickly I could walk. However, there were times when I managed to pass other people, who were able to overtake me on the downhills (as they were able to run and I’m not allowed to).

Stuart ran past me on his second loop and I saw him in the finish funnel as I passed it. He was then able to join us for the second loop. In the last 20m of the event, I was passed by some other participants, so I was the final finisher, however my time wasn’t too bad. My aim is to do the next event in 45 minutes, if possible.

Morgelyn's first parkrun

Morgelyn’s first parkrun

My Decathlon 5k race number

The following day, I took part in the Decathlon Running Series 5k on Southampton Common. Stuart was able to run it, and I persuaded my mum to walk it with me. My mum doesn’t usually walk a lot, so I thought it would be a good challenge for her.

Decathlon 5k route

Decathlon 5k route

The start of the Decathlon 5k

The start of the Decathlon 5k

My mum and I were comfortably ahead of another family with a baby when the tail cyclist joined us. Apparently, the other family had decided to take a short cut. We pressed on and thought the marshals were really good and supportive. As we got within 500m of the finish, the other family had rejoined the route, so I urged my mum to walk a bit faster so that we would not finish last… we just about managed it!

Sandra after Decathlon 5k

This was a good free event. Each participant received a free t-shirt (yellow for men and pink for women). The sizing was a little skimpy, but they were OK. Also, after the event we were able to claim free drawstring goodie bags containing a bottle of water, a pineapple drink, a chocolate cereal bar, a sticker, a catalogue and a lanyard.

Decathlon 5k goodie bag

I had thought that it would be fun to do some parkruns at Christmas and New Year in Cornwall with my family, but the nearest parkrun (Penrose) is not doing any additional festive events. Hopefully, we’ll get to run on Christmas Eve and/or New Year’s Eve. I’m hoping I’ll be able to persuade my mum to join us for a walk.

I had hoped to sign up M for baby swimming classes, but I’m not allowed in the water until December and the times that are available are not convenient for Stuart, so I guess we’ll have to wait until 2017. I’m confident that even if M doesn’t get to the classes, she’ll learn to swim before adulthood!

I’ve also started planning my cycling adventures for 2017, but I’ll need a road bike, so Stu and I have paid another visit to Vankru. I’d really like a Tifosi bike, but the colour scheme that I admired at the Cycle Show isn’t available on the website, so I’m considering a Canyon.

What have you been up to whilst I’ve been off-line? Do you have any tips for exercising with a new baby?

Choosing a bike, parkrunning and some exciting post

8 Oct

Following the theft of our bikes in August, we’ve been busy improving our home’s security (along with 1001 other home improvements). We’ve had a burglar alarm installed, locks changed, additional locks installed, secure lock points fitted and various other improvements, so we’re moving in the direction of being able to get new bikes, which means it’s shopping time.

I was really happy with the bikes I had, but it’s not possible to replace like with like, so I’ve had a think about what would best suit my needs. I previously had an aluminium road bike that I used for touring and wet weather riding and a carbon road bike that I used for most of my cycling and triathlons. Some people have recommended getting a tribike, but I don’t have the bike handling skills, like riding in a group and am quite likely to do a reasonably hilly Ironman, so I’d rather have a good aero road bike.

As for my second bike, my Giant Defy was perfect for touring Japan, but with a baby on the way, I’m unlikely to do any multi-day cycling events in the near future, so I don’t have a need for a touring bike. However, I will still want to cycle in winter and I am determined to improve my bike handling skills. I was inspired by watching people do cyclocross training at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre whilst I was at the running track and would really like to give it a go. The events are not very long (under an hour), so it should be possible to fit in some over the winter months. This means that I have decided to purchase a cyclocross bike as my second bike.

A limitation for my second bike is that I would like to purchase it through the Cycle to Work scheme, which means that it needs to cost under £1000. I looked at various options online and narrowed it down to four bikes:

  • Ridley X-Bow 20 disc
  • Giant TCX SLR 1
  • Colnago World Cup Disc
  • Focus 2016 Mares AX Disc 105
Giant TCX SLR 1 2016

Giant TCX SLR 1 2016

Stuart has also been researching bikes and has produced a shortlist, so we decided to take our shortlists to Vankru, our fantastic local Retul bike fitters. Although they can make (almost) any bike more comfortable, it definitely better to see Garth and Mark before buying something, so that they can advise which bike’s geometry would suit your build and flexibility best.

After having a good look at my data and the specs of the bikes that I was interested in, Mark advised against the Colnago as it’s quite an aggressive bike, however, the small in the Ridley or Giant or the XS in the Focus would be fine for me. I was also told to bear in mind that the Focus is slightly more aggressive. I asked whether Mark had any further recommendations based on my data (and price range), and so he suggested that I might want to look at a Cannondale CAADX. It was really good to get this feedback, and meant that I was able to rule out the Colnago.

This morning, I was able to fit in Southampton parkrun. I met up with Kim at the start and our friend Kate said that she’d join us for a social run as she’s racing the Royal Parks half marathon tomorrow. (Good luck, Kate!) We had a lovely social run, that I really enjoyed.

Finishing parkrun with Kate (and Kim)

Finishing parkrun with Kate (and Kim)

Considering we were chatting (and I’m 39 weeks pregnant), our finish times weren’t too bad either:

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Next Saturday is my due date, but maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in another parkrun before the big event!

After parkrun, Stu and I joined Tobie and Charlotte for some more bike chat. Charlotte ran a PB at parkrun, which was great and Tobie was saving his legs ahead of a cyclocross race tomorrow… which is precisely why Stu and I wanted to chat to him. Not only does Tobie know bikes inside and out as he runs Bike Guy (bicycle servicing), but he also rides and races a lot. So, we’d spoken to the experts about which bikes would fit us and had moved onto another expert who could advise on which bikes have fewer maintenance issues.

Of the four bikes that were left on my shortlist, Tobie advised against the Ridley as it had the lowest spec out of all of the bikes. Apparently, the Giant wheels may buckle under stress, but this is prefer to the Cannondale wheels, which are more likely to end up with broken spokes, which create further problems. Again, Tobie advised that the Focus is a purer cyclocross bike. So, my shortlist was down to the Focus and the Giant.

I’ve seen both of the bikes before, but thought it might help me to make my mind up if I viewed them again. unfortunately, neither bike is in stock in any local bike store. The guys at the Southampton Giant Store (formerly Wessex Cycle World) have always been really helpful, so I went there in the hope that they might be able to order in the Giant for me, but they said they haven’t been able to get any since about June.

I’ve thought about which of the bikes I prefer and the Giant is the one that appeals to me slightly more. Frustratingly, I’ve had a few battles with the online Cyclescheme vouchers, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to order it online next week.

After our visit to the bike shop, Stuart and I went into town to have a look at bike shoes in Decathlon. I currently own two pairs (a lovely pair of Pearl Izumi Tri Flys that I wear for triathlons and a very cheap pair of Specialized shoes that I wear in winter)… but they both work with Speedplay pedals, which aren’t suitable for cyclocross. Aside from my failed visit to the velodrome, I’ve never used any other pedals, so asked Tobie and Charlotte for their advice. They recommended Shimano M520 pedals and Tobie said they were cheaper in Decathlon than anywhere else, so a pair somehow fell into my basket… I also ended up with a new pair of shoes:

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I spent quite a while choosing between these and a black pair of Shimano shoes. The Shimano shoes were slightly lighter, but I found the toe box quite wide (and I’m quite partial to turquoise!) So, I’ve got the shoes, now I just need the bike!

When I got home, I found that some exciting post had arrived – an Energy Snacks box of Sports Nutrition products.

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You can choose whether to sign up for a subscription to this service or just to order a one-off box. If you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll receive 10% off your first box.

For £21.99 the October box includes:

Energy

  • 32Gi – Sport Chews – Orange
  • 32Gi – Sport Gel – Raspberry
  • GU – Energy Gel – Chocolate Outrage
  • GU – Stroopwafel – Caramel Coffee
  • High5 – IsoGel X’treme – Tropical
  • Mule Bar – Energy Bar – Apple Strudel
  • PowerBar – PowerGel Shots – Cola
  • Sweet Peaks – Energy Sweets – Citrus
  • Tribe – Energy Bar – Cacao & Almond

Hydration

  • OTE – Hydro Tabs – Blackcurrant
  • Virtue – Energy Water – Lemon & Lime

Recovery

  • PowerBar – Recovery 2.0 – Raspberry Cooler

I’ve tried some of the products before (PowerBar cola PowerGel shots used to be my ‘go to’ for marathon training), but there are other products that I’ve never heard of or seen in the shops.

The items arrived in a lovely package, so it was really exciting to open it up, and it would make a great gift for a friend who has just signed up to train for a longer distance race, such as a half or full marathon. The only slight disappointment for me was that the Stroopwafel is Caramel Coffee flavoured – I love similar products, but cannot stand coffee, so I’ll have to get Stu to be the product tester for that item!

How’s your weekend been so far? Are you watching the Ironman World Championship?

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Visiting Vankru bike fitting

13 Feb

The start to this year has been full on with lots of things happening… and my blog has been a bit of a casualty, so I’m hoping to change that this weekend. Apologies in advance to those of you who receive email updates from me!

I may have mentioned that I’m going on a little cycling trip later this year – a couple of weeks of cycling across Japan. I’m so excited about it! It was my intention to refurbish my dad’s old road bike, but I’ve bene really busy recently and haven’t had the time to do that. I could have paid someone to do it, but I’m not sure that it’ll fit and I’d like to learn more about bike maintenance, so I think it’ll do me good to do it myself.

Anyway, this has meant that I needed to sort out a new bike. A touring bike would be the ideal option, but I’ve not had a lot of luck finding something. There are very few second-hand or new bikes around in my size within my price range.

I went to Cycle World and was delighted to find that they had a Cannondale CAAD8 available in what I thought was my size (54cm) and even better it was reduced from £700 to £300. Unfortunately, I took it out for a test ride and although it was lovely, it just wasn’t the right size for me. However, the shop also had a Giant Defy 4 in a small which turned out to be the right size for me, and it was reduced to under £400 so I bought it. It feels comfortable to ride and the brand is reliable – Stuart has a top of the range Giant Defy from the previous season.

The sales staff in the shop pointed out that the bike matches my shoes, which is true, but that wasn’t why I bought it (and I’ve got a new pair of cycling shoes, rather than tri specific shoes that I’ll be wearing on it).

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Unfortunately, the purchase of a new bike means that my dining room is now looking more like a garage.

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We do have a shed, but it’s filled with the usual stuff people have in sheds (plant pots, BBQ, paint etc) as well as my work bike, Stu’s old bike and my dad’s old bike. As soon as the weather gets better, we’ll need to have a clear out.

After purchasing the new bike, I went for a bike fit with Garth Kruger at Vankru bike fitting.

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Garth made various adjustments to the bike (including raising the seat significantly). He also turned the stem over to make the position of the handlebars more comfortable. The handlebars are quite wide (and also deep), so I may be better off getting new handlebars, but I think I need to try going on a long ride before I make a decision.

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Sadly, we realised at the end of the bike fit that the front wheel was buckled, so I had to take it back to the shop to be trued last weekend. I’d love to be able to tell you how the new bike is going, but I’ve not had a chance to ride it. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares with my Kuota Kharma.

I have been attending weekly spinning classes with SUTRI, which I hope will help to get me fit for Japan and I need to start going on the turbo trainer at home. My friend, Teri, has said that she’d like to join me for a turbo trainer session, which should be fun as it’ll be easier to chat than when we’re out on the road!

I also cycle to work every day, although it’s been a bit icy recently, and we even had a dusting of snow.

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Stuart has also been looking for a new bike. He has wanted a nice bike for a while and it is the section of tris where he tends to lag. He is a great swimmer and a very good runner, but he’s not got the cycling experience that a lot of the other athletes have and he doesn’t have the same quality of kit. However, he has made great progress in the last couple of years. He has got stronger, fitter and (surprisingly) more flexible. In the past, Stu and I were like Penny and Sheldon:

Toe touch

Stu liked the look of a Canyon road bike and having heard nothing but positive reviews of them from our friend Jules, he decided to order one. Sadly, there were some delays before Stu’s bike arrived (including the wrong bike being delivered), but on Friday last week we were able to go to Vankru where Garth built and fitted Stu’s bike.

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The bike was carefully packed and there were some lovely touches such as motivational messages on the box it was packed in.

It didn’t take Garth long to build the bike. He was impressed with some of the attention to detail, such as the information on the handlebars to help adjust the angle and line them up… however, he had to make some minor adjustments to ensure that it was level.

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Once the bike was set up, it was time for the Retul fit to start. This involved sticking little velcro dots on Stu, so that he could be wired up.

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However, it’s not a purely computerised process, it takes skill on Garth’s part… in a way it’s like walking into a traditional lingerie shop where the elderly ladies can size up a bra with a look or a gentleman’s outfitters where the sales assistants don’t need a tape measure to decide on an inside leg measurement.

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The precision involved is unbelievable – Garth pays close attention to mm measurements.

Several people have asked me about having a bike fit – what it entails, how much it costs, what the benefits are etc. If you do have any questions about bike fitting, I’d recommend that you tweet Garth @Vankru_cycling For me, I would say that it’s hard to put a price on comfort and that although many bike shops will say that they have ‘fitted’ a bike, what they mean is that they have put the saddle at roughly the right height. (That’s not true of all bike shops, but there aren’t many who employ a full-time, experienced fitter).

Garth is used to working with all manner of cyclists from complete novices to pros; mountain bikers to time triallists. Some women fear cycling as there are plenty of opportunities for people to baffle them with technical talk. A fitting with Garth is not like that – he asks questions in plain English and will clarifying anything that you’re not sure of… however, if you’re a veteran cyclist, he’ll be happy to discuss your experiences. That’s one of the things that I love most about going to Garth for a bike fit – he’s passionate about cycling and his job and can always share some interesting thoughts about the sport. Although Vankru is based in Southampton, Garth also travels for bike fits, so do contact Vankru if you want to find out more.

If you’re undecided about whether you’d benefit from a bike fit, read these articles:

Finally, this video shows the essentials of a bike fit  in under two minutes:

Have you had a bike fit? What kind was it and could you feel a difference afterwards?

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Training Peaks Ambassador

What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…

13 Nov

We’ve had torrential rain here for the last few days, but things are starting to look positive. There’s even some sunshine on the weather map for tomorrow 🙂

Monday

The day didn’t start well as car problems meant that I missed out on the strength and conditioning session that I had been looking forward to. I was so gutted about it – I hope I manage to book a place for next Monday’s session, although I imagine that I’ll be tired after Gosport Half Marathon. I didn’t have to rush straight to work as I was booked in for a ‘flu jab. I’ve never had one before as I’ve never counted as an ‘at risk’ category, but my asthma means that I’m now someone who may be more seriously affected. I really hate needles and have fainted quite a few times when I’ve had to give blood, so I was a bit concerned about it. Fortunately, the nurse at my doctor’s surgery is lovely and it didn’t take too long, although I had to sit still for a few minutes afterwards to ensure that I didn’t keel over!

On Monday evening, I agreed to take Ben’s group at my running club… however, this group consists of the fastest runners in the club. They are seriously fast. Their warm up jog pace is my flat-out on the track PB pace. Of course this meant that I wouldn’t be able to run along with them and shout encouragement, and it’s a bit cool to stand around for an hour, so I got on my trust hybrid bike and cycled  around with them. Their main set was 6×1 mile reps at HM pace, which was a comfortable slow cycle for me. It was quite nice to be able to encourage them and I also got to see lots of the other runners who were out training.

After finishing off the LRR session, I cycled to the Quays for tri club swimming. There were only three of us in the lane, but I was by far the slowest one. My left arm (where I’d had the injection) was feeling stiff and tired and it was another impossible set – 12 x 25m off 30s. I decided to ignore what we’d been told to do and just did my best for each length before having 5s rest. We also had to tread water for 2 minutes with our hands behind our heads. I’m not sure whether I was doing it wrong, but it felt quite easy. Bizarrely, I received more praise from the coach than I’ve ever had before, even though I didn’t really do much!

 

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I went to the SUTri spin class. It was the first time that I had gone to a spinning class for two years and my first ever hour-long class.When I worked at Bournemouth University, I used to love going to lunchtime spin classes, but for reasons of time and cost, I’ve not been to any classes since I left BU. I remember that when I started going to classes, I found them completely exhausting, so I was a little concerned about how I would find an hour-long class. Fortunately, all of the time that I’ve spent on a real bike, whether commuting for work or triathlon training, has paid off and I did not struggle with the class. I liked some of the tracks that the instructor played, but I didn’t find the class as motivational as ones that I’ve been to in the past with lots of recognisable recent dance tracks with lyrics. There was also less variety than I’m used to, but I still think it was good and want to go again.

Last week, I went to the SUTri swimming session on Tuesday evening and I am planning to go again, but I had another commitment on Tuesday evening. Recently, Stu and I had a photoshoot with the lovely Sue and Jules from http://www.julianporter.com/ On Tuesday, we went to have a look at the photos that Jules had taken and decide which one we wanted to have printed and framed. Jules has written a blog post about it… it includes lots of the images that he took: http://julesandsue.co.uk/2014/11/lordshill-road-runners-shoot/ If you are in the south of England and need a photographer, I’d recommend getting in touch with Jules and Sue.

 

Wednesday

I really love running on the track, so I was looking forward to the Lordshill track session on Wednesday evening. The weather was pretty miserable, but I think it’s important to train in all weathers as you never know what race day will be like. Ben did quite a long warm up and technique session before the main set started. We were tasked with running 200m at 5K pace +10 seconds, followed by 200m at 5k pace. Ben had worked out how fast we should do each rep according to our PBs – I think I was meant to do 200m in 1:10 followed by 200m in 1:00… but I thought it was 200m at 5:10/km followed by 2oom at 5:00/km, which less of a variance. In the end, I did 200m slow followed by 200m fast, which wasn’t really what we were meant to do. I’m not very good at identifying my pace and I couldn’t read my watch. I think I should have probably relied on my lap button more. I’m not sure whether I did 12 or 13 laps, but it took me just under 26 minutes, which wasn’t too bad.

Garth and Graham at Vankru Cycling shared this fantastic video from Ritte cycles:  http://rittecycles.com/ritte-bicycles/the-rider-diaries-a-chance-encounter

The Rider Diaries: A Chance Encounter from Ritte Bicycles on Vimeo.

Make sure that you watch it to the end!

Update on my cycling

19 Jun

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)I have failed to keep my blog up to date because I have been so busy, so I’ve got a couple of days off work and have decided to try to get myself back up to date. I thought it might be easiest to recap the progress I’ve made in each of the three disciplines, starting with cycling (even if swimming would seem the obvious place to start!)

I have been out for several long bike rides recently, which has helped to build my confidence.

Firstly, Stuart and I went for a 35/40 mile ride with Di, Mike, Pete, Kirsty and Tony. We went out around Romsey and Braishfield and stopped for a lovely pub lunch. This was the furthest I had ever cycled and I felt really pleased that I was not at the back for the entire ride. I had hoped to take some lovely photos to share with you, but unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be. My hybrid bike does not have a water bottle holder, so I filled a 750ml bottle with water and put it in my pannier. My panniers are waterproof, which means that no water can get in… And no water can get out. I foolishly put my iPhone in the pannier with my water, and when we stopped for a quick break after an hour of cycling, I was surprised to find that there was not very much water in my bottle. Sadly, the water was in my pannier and my phone was floating 😦 What an expensive mistake to make. I now have a new phone, and have also invested in a water bottle cage for my bike!!!

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)

(L-R) Mike, Tony, me Stu, Pete and Kirsty. (Di had the camera!)

For the trip, I purchased some of the padded cycling knickers from Decathlon that Irene recommended. I wore them under my favourite skins running tights, and they were very comfortable. I wore a fairly long length running vest, to keep my lower back warm, but it did not cover my shoulders, which ended up rather burnt – oops! I also finally added the pedal cages that I bought before my duathlon. They make cycling so much easier and will not be coming off my bike!

My next long bike ride was a picnic in the New Forest, with Kirsty, Tony, Kev, Alice, Stu, Phil and Irene. It was a similar distance to the ride we did with Di, but it felt so much harder. There are very few hedges to protect you from the wind, so I was blown all over the road with my panniers that were full of picnic goodies.

This was taken at the top of a long and wind-swept hill!

This was taken at the top of a long and wind-swept hill!

As it was a warmer day, I decided to wear running shorts (the type with cycling shorts underneath, rather than a brief liner). However, I quickly learnt that these do not go well with padded pants… What a horribly uncomfortable experience!

We finally made it to our picnicking area, where there were lots of Shetland pony foals – they are just adorable. I often think of my running club mates as being like horses: the speedy boys are the thoroughbred race horses, Dean is a loveable cart horse, and I’m a Shetland pony with little legs and a big tummy!

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Alice, Ben, Mazza and Jim joined us for the picnic. Some of the others had to leave early and Irene didn’t want to cycle home, which meant that just Kev, Alice, Stu and I cycled home together. The boys had a definite advantage with their road bikes, whereas Alice has a beautiful, but rather heavy ladies bike (sans front basket on this occasion!)

At this point, I realised that if I wanted to get serious about cycling, I needed some proper kit, so Stu and I headed down to Decathlon, where I bought a pair of bib shorts and a matching top. The shorts are surprisingly comfortable, as the elastic does not bite into my legs. The outfit is black and white with cerise pink highlights. The top is mainly white, which means that it s a little see-through, but not enough to make it indecent. I also ordered the top that I wanted from wiggle. It’s cerise pink so it also matches my bib shorts and is very comfortable.

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My next long ride was an excursion with Katherine, Liz, Suzanne, Piers and Stu. As they’re all members of Southampton Tri Club (apart from Stu), I was rather nervous. I knew Stu would be OK as he’s much fitter than I am (and he has a road bike and cleated shoes). Luckily, Katherine and Liz were kind to me, with Liz chaperoning me at the back of the peloton.

Liz taking a group photo!

Liz taking a group photo!

Part of the route that we did was the same as when we went out with Di, so I was anticipating the first big hill, however, I didn’t realise that Katherine’s route also took in a mile long hill. We also got to see many of my club mates doing the Braishfield 5 mile beer race. I would have liked to have taken part, but Stu isn’t allowed to run at the moment.

A slightly better photo, showing us halfway up the hill from hell

A slightly better photo, showing us halfway up the hill from hell

Why am I always eating in photos? Perhaps it's a sign that I spend too much time eating...

Why am I always eating in photos? Perhaps it’s a sign that I spend too much time eating…

We finally stopped in Romsey at The White Horse, which has a courtyard that is perfect for cyclists to remain with their bikes. I had the most delicious cream tea, although I don’t think the scones were as good as my mum’s!

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Enjoying our cream tea (and pork pies!) in Romsey

Enjoying our cream tea (and pork pies!) in Romsey

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My original plan had been to buy a road bike on the cycle to work scheme, but I am in eligible for another bike until November. This would mean that I would have to ride a road bike for the first time on my triathlon holiday, and I would only get my new bike when the weather is less likely to be favourable, so I might not get a lot of use out of it until next year. The other issue is that I would be limited to a bike that costs under £1000, and would not be able to take advantage of any special offers. Oh yes, and I’m impatient. Soooooo, I’ve decided to invest in a new bike ASAP.

I started reading reviews of bikes and talking to friends in the know, but everyone has different opinions. Some people recommended getting a tri bike, but this gives me less flexibility and may not be ideal for an ironman, so I am likely to get a road bike.

I looked through back issues of 220 Triathlon to help me make my choice, but the featured bikes are usually out of my price range… And I’ve yet to see a review of a women specific design bike. Anyway, at the back of the magazine my eyes fell on an recommendation for Vankru bike-fitting. I’d read a bit about bike fitting before, but didn’t think it was something I could afford. However, the location of this particular company caught my eye as it is based less than a mile from my house. I sent off an email asking some questions, and am now booked in for a bike fit next week. This will just be a basic bike fit, so that Garth Kruger (the owner of the company) can take some measurements and recommend particular bike brands according to my dimensions. I’m hoping that this will help to minimise the risk of making an expensive mistake, as well as narrowing down my choices as I’m very indecisive!

Last weekend, I took part in a fantastic triathlon training camp run by Ant from Run Camp and Ben from Try Tri. I chatted to them a lot about cycling and also practised transitions, but will write a separate post about that.

The last part of my bike update is about shoes. I decided to read up some reviews on the best triathlon-specific cleated shoes. I identified the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly IIIs as the best ones to get, but there is no local retailer, which meant that I would have to guess at my size. Wiggle had some in stock at £60, but they didn’t have all of the possible sizes that I would want to try. I looked up stockists online and discovered that there is a triathlon shop called Tri-1st just a few miles outside of Birmingham, so I decided to run there to have a look.

Pearl Izumi Tri Fly III

Pearl Izumi Tri Fly III

I tried on the shoes in a 41 and they fitted perfectly. They also looked nice, but were £89.99. I explained to the salesman that I could get them online for £60 and asked whether he could do a deal. As he was working out prices, I suddenly realised that I had tried on Tri Fly IVs (i.e. the new model, and that these were more expensive online). The salesman offered a price of £75 and I decided to go with it. Later on, I looked them up online and realised that £79.99 (not inclusive of p&p) was the best price I could get, and that Wiggle no longer had my size in stock. Maybe I should try haggling more often!!!

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It took me a long time to find Tri-1st

It took me a long time to find Tri-1st…

...but it was worth it as I got a good deal on a pair of Tri Fly IVs

…but it was worth it as I got a good deal on a pair of Tri Fly IVs

Stu and I had also bought tickets for Early Riser festival at Avon Tyrrell at the start of August. It sounded like a great event: it was close to home, tickets were BOGOF and the bands are ones I’ve heard of… Plus it included entry into a cyclosportive with a choice of 42k, 75k or 100k. Sadly, I received an email this morning saying that it has been cancelled 😦 Luckily, I have another event to look forward to: 6 ferries and 100k. Katherine is organising this, so it will become a full blog post later.

EARLY13

In summary:
– I’ve upped my mileage
– I’ve bought bike shoes and clothes
– I’m booked in for a bike fit
– I’ll be getting a road bike soon
So, although it may not have felt like I was making progress, I am definitely taking steps in the right direction!

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