The Weekend That Was Supposed To Be

Holkham Half Iron was today.

I was supposed to be racing it.

I didn’t.

Anyone that has been following this blog (hahahahaha) knows that I transferred my place to Outlaw X in September. A most wise and excellent choice. To the point that although the weather looked perfect – I didnt feel bad about not doing it. Although I did remind myself that I need to run.

So what did I do instead?

I surprised myself.

It is becoming a bit of a bad habit to say yes to the random things my mates suggest. About a week ago one mate sent me a link to race he had signed up for – up near Consett on Derwent Reservoir. Asked if I fancied it – and camping (with my new tent). Well bit of a daft question. I read through and debated it – but then it dawned on me I could use this to my advantage.

I decided I would use this as the perfect opportunity to head north (what a surprise!) and go cycle in my favourite part of the world – Northumberland.

I decided not to race but still go and camp and support my mate racing, while also riding my bike.

It was actually quite hard getting myself up and out on the Saturday morning to be honest – there was a little voice in my head wondering whether it was worth the money (fuel) and time going all the way north just to ride for a few hours when I could do a 40 mile ride at home. I had already printed off some OS maps just to keep in my pocket as I don’t have a cycle computer, and my bike was in the car – sod it. I overrode the little voice of doubt and thought it would do me good to go.

It was. Road trip central. I set off at half 7, donned in lycra from the start. I stopped at Scotch Corner as per normal and got some funny looks – which considering the lycra was unsurprising. I made Beadnell for 10.45. Driving North makes me so happy!

The weather was absolutely lovely but as I sorted out my bike and got ready to go (this is quite a quick process when you are on your own!) I realised that my route meant that I was going to be cycling back with a headwind!

Ah well.

My route was taking me towards Boulmer via the coast and then back round towards Lesbury and up to Rennington before heading over North Sunderland and into Bamburgh – this was a long tough slog actually – headwind and up hill – but the view was worth it (see the picture!). The other thing that made it worth the slog was the tail wind from Bamburgh through to Beadnell and some amazing speeds and top 10s on Strava!

It was bliss! I stopped eventually at the harbour in Beadnell for an ice cream before cycling back round to the car and heading back to Derwent Reservoir. It was mixed feelings though – it was an epic ride in terms of scenery and just sheer enjoyment – I was over the moon with myself at cycling so far away from home (without the usual back up) on my own! But equally – I really would have liked to have had someone to share it with. The joy of a good bike ride is like nothing else!

However I was feeling – it definitely helped reset the happiness/wellbeing button in my own head.

So looking forward to riding up there again and planning my next trip up there!

The mystery of the Phantom Phaeton

I have been getting some ribbing from some mates about the actual existence of my TT bike that I bought for an absolute bargain in April. Admittedly it was a bit deserved. This beauty of a speed machine has been sat in the garage doing noting but looking pretty since I bought it because I knew I needed to get a fit done.

Getting a fit on my TT bike has not been at the top of my priorities but then my mate sent me the details of a local coach who did bike fits for £65 – too good a price to pass over.

So with that, decision was made and I booked an appointment.

I wish I had done it sooner! Or rather known about Mark sooner. Really great service and even looked at my cleats.

Far more thorough than fits I’ve had done elsewhere.

Firstly – a good chat! My plans/aims with the bike – or what would I predominately be doing with said bike (does make a difference), my current fitness, my flexibility, height, weight, stats, length of inner leg etc, followed by taking all the bike measurements as it stood. Oh and sorting out the position of the cleats on my shoes. They were well out!

Then came attaching sticky reflective dots for the camera to pick up when filming me cycle. That was the first part.

The second part consisted of then tweaking measurements, positions, stem length and height and saddle. Essentially bringing everything in – my initial concern was that the frame would be too big for me (its a small Ridley Phaeton T) but no issues.

And this is exactly WHY I haven’t ridden it until I had a fit. What a difference and far more stable/comfortable position. I really cannot fault my experience – and I have all the details of my fit and measurements and a new saddle to test as well as a stem to try out. So I need to go ride it now – this I am VERY excited about.

When I got home – I did go do a quick spin around the block. With more practice and training I reckon I could really nail some decent speed in the next year or two.

I am beginning to wonder if I am becoming a cyclist who swims rather than a triathlete or a swimmer who cycles…. Not that it matters!

Alnwick Sprint Triathlon

Where to start?

At the beginning.

In the beginning there was…..

Haha ok maybe not. So it may have come to some people’s attention that North or ‘The North’ is my favourite place to be. More precisely – Northumberland. In fact the temptation to move there increases regularly. As a result it should come as no surprise that entering Alnwick Sprint Triathlon was a bit of a no brainer! I’d set a reminder on my phone – which didn’t work so originally missed out – until I spied over social media that some more places had become available as people hadn’t wanted them. Bingo! This was months ago.

Fast forward to the day before.

Accommodation was booked and sorted – I arrived in Northumberland in plenty of time. All good you’d thing – I was too early to go to my accommodation so decided to drive the bike route. Well what a BAD idea that was. I knew it wasn’t flat but argh – talk about putting the wind up myself. Undulating is a rather mild word for it! Either way – it was a scenic route but it did put the wind up me and result in some frantic texting! This kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Stayed in my favourite village – Beadnell – at Farne Lodge – what a gem of a find! I’ll be back over the summer! Really nice rooms and didnt need breakfast so was more than happy – although a little gutted my mate couldn’t make it. In all honesty I had a bit of an emotional wobble about life which again was solved/helped by some conversations with mates and I snapped out of it.

I had some jobs to do work wise (I had taken laptop) so sat and worked through a bit of the to do list then headed over to the pub next door for tea and some Guiness – why not? I took a book and just sat chilling on my own – looking distinctly like billy-no-mates.

Netflix and bed.

RACE DAY!

My first triathlon in nearly a year. I really think I am one of the laziest racers in the club. Alarm went off, I hit snooze. I thought about moving and wondered how close I dare leave it before dragging myself out of bed and getting up. Ate some food – thought that was wise! Pulled on my trisuit and some trousers before loading the car and tootling off to Alnwick. The joys of knowing the area meant no worrying about getting lost and knowing exactly where I needed to be and how long it would take. Bonus points really.

Rocking up on my own was a bit novel. I HAD read the race pack re registration and the briefing but after liberating my race number and my bike and racking up in transition – someone kindly reminded me I needed to be at a race briefing! Perfect planning there.

Thankfully not before leaving my long sleeved jersey with my bike. I hate being cold on the bike. Even in a race.

Briefing done, Let the waiting game commence!

My swim wave was 8.30 – I’d put down 7:30 swim time when I entered which put me in the 5 wave – out of 7 or 8 so heading towards the top half. The wave in front – one lass was quite slow in finishing, leaving no time for any warm up so it was a case of straight in. After focusing on my form – I was annoyed that I forgot in for the first 150m. Then it clicked – higher elbow, more power, pull and relax – then things eased up and I managed to keep on the toes of the lad in front – I’d let him over take. Stopped my watch dead on last stroke – 7:19 thank you very much! I was over the moon.

Then I buggered up my watch. I use my watch in triathlon mode so little that I forgot how it worked – so trundled through transition with the full intention of keeping warm on the bike (so that could have been quicker…). It took me half a km to get my watch on to cycle mode but….

The bike had almost given me nightmares but there was no point in sacking it off – I needed to do it. Turns out though that as tough as it was – it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was as undulating as it was scenic and in the end I was genuinely happy with my finish time – my average pace as 15.8mph which was better than I was expecting. My attitude on the bike is better than running – I seem to be able to push through the pain on the bike more than I do the run.

Talking of the run.- I faffed into transition – and as I set out on the run – remembered just how awful that heavy leg feeling is off the bike. I really should remember to do brick sessions. Either way – the run was four laps of the local secondary school – a long slow gradual uphill with a corresponding decent and in all honesty – once I got into it, managed to maintain somewhat reasonable pace for me, but I will admit I spent the last half an hour never wanting to do a triathlon again. I was properly miserable at one point! And so glad to see the finish line! At least the sun was shinning and. there was a good support crowd! The race photos are definitely amusing!

Of course after finishing – without having a support crew there, a flurry of texts went out with ‘I NEVER WANT TO DO A TRIATHLON AGAIN’. Obviously two hours later once normality had been restored I took most of this back!

Biggest worry now is actually getting enough training in for Holkham. Any chance I can take the next 7 weeks off work?!

Look at the shinny shinny!

Several months ago – I bought some new wheels. These were bought with the money I was given for Christmas with the sole intention of buying wheels. The Family just didn’t get it. I picked them up, brought them home, smiled a lot and gazed at them lovingly, knowing it would be a while before I actually got round to trying them out.

That day was today.

It’s been like New Bike Day all over again!

I ordered the tyres to come next day, ordered tools needed to take the cassette off my turbo to put on my wheels and the inners to go with the deeper rims and waited. The knock on the door was earlier than expected but I knew instantly what it was. The joy!

The tyres and inner tubes were taken out of the packaging and unwrapped. The tyre leavers came out and so to did the bike front and Operation Sort Out the Wheels began.

As it wasn’t that long since I changed the tyres on the Spesh, I did this relatively quickly.

I even managed to fit the cassette. Wonders will never cease.

Feeling smug and over the moon, I then tried fitting the new wheels to my bike. Well. The new wheels are wider rimmed that my old ones and there were a few issues – which, thanks to a mate, got sorted (along with bringing in my bike leaves).

Oh MY!

So after the bit of tweaking and a cuppa at said mates, the breaks were sorted and my leaves brought in, I went home for tea, only to head straight out again to try my usually 15.5mile loop and do some segment hunting.

Naturally I had to wait until after tea – but it was worth it. First ride of the year on the new wheels. First ride in shorts. First ride in a short sleeved jersey.

What a difference. I knew wheels would have a difference but I headed out and knew I was just generally faster. I could feel it. Turns out that the wheels really do make a solid difference to performance (I knew they would but wasn’t sure how much). It felt like I was flying down some roads – genuinely quite surprised at how much difference I noticed. Unlike the ex’s wheels – it didn’t feel as stiff as I was expecting but marginally more responsive. I felt more confident as a rider. I averaged 17.7mph over the ride – but did not top 10 any segments – even though I felt I was pretty close on Long Lane!

So worth the investment? Yes yes and yes again. She also looks absolutely beautiful! The decision not to go with tan wall tyres was completely the right one too. It even got shared on LaRidley’s instagram video!

But don’t take my word for it – I’m sure you’ll agree – she’s a beaut!

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The Stealth Ninja – My absolute pride and joy! Ridley Liz 105.