IBIZA! Part One – ETU Championships

Getting of the plane at Leeds Bradford Airport a couple of days ago was a bit of a shock to the system. Six days of glorious sunshine and warm weather, watching friends race and generally chilling – fabulous!

I will be honest – I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ibiza’s main reputation is that of party island but all the main clubs had their closing parts around the weekend of the 6th of October and as we arrived, many bars and hotels were closed or closing for the winter. It is quite a strange feeling being somewhere that is slowly closing down.

Clearly not there for the party scene, this week Ibiza has been the host to the ETU Championships – which was actually the reason for me being there. Initially this trip had been planned and booked while still with the ex. When he left me, I had him cancel the original holiday so I could rebook it. After seeing my mate’s hotel, I wish I’d rebooked into their hotel (it was lush and would have been worth the extra expense. Lesson learnt there!). Anyway, back to the important stuff – the reason for being there was the fact that some of my friends and club members had qualified to race representing GBR in their age category, so I headed out to go and support. A most excellent excuse for a holiday.

We touched down in Ibiza on the Saturday – the first day of the championships. The first race to affect our group was the Standard Distance Duathlon in Santa Elulia on the Sunday. When I arrived it was to find my friend, who was racing, slightly panic stricken – the transition had moved (washed away off the beach the night before due to an unusually high tide) and confusion over the race route, which had changed numerous times. Either way, push come to actual shove, everything went well, and certainly better than the previous day’s sprint duathlon by all accounts. We took it in turns cheering my friend on as me and her partner kept and eye on the children playing on the beach (a whole afternoon in the sun on the beach was blissful). At the end however, we all made a beeline for the finish – to which there was a total of 10 of us cheering her in to a marvellous sprint finish! First day of racing over, my friend could start enjoying her holiday!

The second race I was in Ibiza to watch was the Aquathon on the Wednesday evening – and what a glorious evening it was for racing! A 1km swim and a 5km run, with three club members racing into the sunset, it was always going to be fast and pacy. Eight of us stood waiting patiently near one of the switch backs for the race to start – and waiting for one of our club members to pass us. While we waited and watched, it was inspiring to see the elites go past but also the parathletes too. We had a good vantage point and were at one of the quiet points – until our first club member and friend ran past, at which point we made a mad dash to the finish. We were so close! Most of us managed to get stood on one of the seating blocks along the front and had an excellent side line view of one of the switch backs as well as the finish line, both of which provide amazing moments, sprint finishes and some more amusing moments. We were also an excellent home cheering crowd for our members as we watched and cheered loudly. All doing well as the sun set.

Race Day.jpg
Duathlon

Once everyone was in though we all made our way back to our own hotels but not before agreeing to catch up for drinks. Well, I say that. One was staying with family and one disappeared off drinking with other age groupers into the Irish bar that was still open along the front. The rest of us meet up at one of the hotels along the front where they were staying to celebrate the end of season and the fact we were all in Ibiza. Cocktails and laughter flowed – included one of our club coaches (I feel my work as social sec here is done!). It was about 1.30am before I rolled back at my own hotel, with a 6.30 alarm for our transfer to the airport. I wasn’t really looking forward to the impending hangover.

An impending hangover that, thankfully didn’t materialise – more just tiredness! I was actually quite gutted to leave in one respect, knowing that some other club members were just heading out for the Middle distance race on Saturday, but alas, all good things must come to an end and as we boarded the plane, I was debating whether I should book in some races abroad next year – although after seeing the stress that can comes with racing abroad – I know I will need to be mega organised!

Looping a Lake and Heading Up Hill

Undulations and more undulations.

Took the bike up to the Lake District the other weekend – this proved interesting. My friends tried to persuade me up The Struggle – for those that do not know of The Struggle – it’s down as one of the top 200 Climbs in the UK, rated 8/10.

I did one lap of Windermere and got to Ambleside and refused point blank. My knee was already twinging from the mere 1700ft of climbing I had already done so I wondered back to the YHA we were staying at.  This left the two lads to go off and do it. I was quite glad when I got back that I hadn’t – I was talking to one of my friends when the lads rolled in. Looking wet and shattered!

This weekend I did a 30 mile circular route round North Lincolnshire – slightly hilly but same issue – dodgy on hills and dodgy left knee. What was also frustrating; I hadn’t ridden my bike in a week and I could feel it! I haven’t ridden anywhere near enough in last three weeks.

This has brought to the fore a few things….

  1. I need to do more hills and more climbing. This is nothing new to be honest. I am a bit of a rubbish climber.
  2. I need to work on my glutes – I think this is why I am suddenly having issues with my knee. Knee issues, apparently, are usually caused by weak glutes. Definitely my case with running, could be with cycling. Don’t think it’s my bike fit – its not long since I had one.
  3. I quickly get unfit on the bike. I haven’t ridden as much as I would like in the last few weeks. Partly because I’ve been busy, partly the weather. I suspect it is time I got the turbo out.
  4. It is officially winter kit season. I was cold on the bike yesterday. Shorts, base layer, summer jersey and arm. warmers – just not enough.
  5. As above. Cycle more hills. Cycle more.
  6. There aren’t many female cyclists in Lincolnshire. My 30 mile bike ride saw me get top 10 female positions on 8 different segments. Now, I’m a reasonable ok cyclist but that many? On one ride?
  7. I need to sort out the cleats on my shoes. I nearly came off my bike on a major roundabout – I slipped off the pedals thinking I was clipped in as I stood to get a move on around the roundabout. Serious wobble and thoughts I was actually going to fall. I’ve a nice bruise there now though…..

Anyway, despite all that, winter season is starting to draw closer, especially as today is the first day of Autumn. I don’t mind colder weather cycling as long as I’ve the layers on but I really do need to start putting the hours in on the turbo I think. I’ll be getting signed back on to Zwift but a friend has recommended Sufferfest. Either way, with Holkham half on the calendar and cyclocross to maybe brave… I need to start training again and stop being so lax!

Playing at Pines

‘And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.’ Shanti

After waiting a week to have a proper play on the new cyclocross bike (now known as the Ridders), the mudguards came off, the chain was given a quick clean and the brakes given a bit of adjustment – the time had come to actually go and play. The bikes were bundled into the back of the car and the mini road trip to Sherwood Pines was done.

I had been looking forward to this all week. I am not a fan of mountain bikes really, coming from a roadie background, I don’t think this is that surprising. So the cross bike was really a more natural choice. I initially felt a bit out of place – ours were the only CX bikes there and I’ve never ridden in SPD Mountain bike cleats but that passed. Quick. Initial start wasn’t good – one cleat on upside down had resulted in frustration in not being able to clip in, but once rectified, it was time to go and play.

Heading to Sherwood Pines has been on my To Do list for quite a while – but with it being down in Nottinghamshire, I never really got chance to go. Sherwood Pines is a lot flatter than Dalby Forest, and we initially started out on the Blue route – well, my bike handling skills need some work but on the most part – it was so much fun! In my head, it was the cycling equivalent of trail/XC running. I was not really far off. Absolutely loved bombing around the course and not really worrying about speed – so much so I was wishing we’d done two (next time). Even had a bit of a cheeky play on some of the red route sections.

I love my roadies – don’t get me wrong, but this was just so much fun! I’ve got to do some serious practise but for a first attempt, it wasn’t bad! Itchy feet to be back must be a good sign right?

As for having a go at racing – I think it is definitely on the cards – especially after talking to one of the club members this afternoon. I feel this can only be a good thing for my road cycling. I am, however, glad that it hadn’t been awful weather before hand!

Lured to the dark side of cycling

‘You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bike and that’s pretty close.’ Anonymous

Yesterday was indeed a day of great happiness. For various reasons.

It started with a decent swim (all the best days usually involve swimming) at the gym, and was followed by a very long solo road trip. I say very long, it wasn’t too bad to be honest but the traffic was a bit rubbish. The swim and solo road trip weren’t the cause of the great happiness that washed over me.

It all started over a week ago – a message from a friend regarding a CX bike he’d seen on Facebook and a frantic text to me to tell me about it and persuade me to call about it. I did, and in doing so, I ended up travelling up to Newcastle to go look at a second hand, extra small, Ridley XBow (being a short female, second hand bikes that fit are quite rare!).

I had been debating cyclocross for cross training but it would appear I have been lured to the dark side of cycling after all it would seem as I came home with said bike. I came home poorer but also richer – nothing quite beats N+1 in all honesty. I was grinning from ear to ear all the way home! It helps that I like the paint job on it better than more recent models.

The problem is now, I need to sort out the mudguards – bike hasn’t been raced and used more as a winter hack/commuter and I think I need to tweak a bit with the saddle height. Saying that though, the lady I bought the bike off had a shorted stem put on it – which is what I had to do to my Ridley Liz. I also need to sort out the cleats for the shoes as I’m used to SPD-SL and these aren’t! Regardless….

Seriously excited.

Seriously gutted I won’t get a chance to play until the end of the week!

 

Best get a move on and up my bike handling skills!

 

What have I let myself in for?! (No one mention MTB – I fear the worse!)

Ride, ride, ride!

“Ride a bike. Ride a bike. Ride a bike” – Fausto Coppi, on how to improve

The only way I am actually going to get better on the bike is to actually go ride (I could say the same about running – I really need to work on that!). At the moment, I have no more races pencilled in for this year and as a result, I don’t really have a training plan. This has the advantage in that I can swim/bike/run as I like without feeling guilty but the downside in the fact that my running is being sorely neglected for cycling, swimming and gym work.

So with no races booked, my current dedication to my cycling and proving to myself what I’m capable off – a month or so ago I signed up for the York 100 sportive – 68 miles. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it so I thought why not!

The plan was to ride in from home, do the sportive, and ride home, rounding it up to 100 miles. This was the plan until this morning. In the end, I persuaded a friend to join me. He’s a bit of a beast on the bike. I finished on 80 hard earned miles.

I cycled to the start – all well and good. Met my mate, registered, and set off. All well and good. Made a very good pace out of town (my spin has improved massively and the TTs have paid off too) and headed towards some climbs. The thing with the York 100 is that it starts off fairly flat and finishes fairly flat, but has a very bumpy middle. There is nothing really major to actually report – it was really uneventful really, but there two observations that I want to make.

  1. Nutrition – I tried something different today. After being mocked for taking so much food that I realised today I genuinely don’t need, I did try some new nutrition. I’ve been a fan of High5 4:1 – it is good stuff but equally can be a bit sweet. On a recommendation, I bought some Tailwind (Caffenated Raspberry Buzz if you really want to know). I tried it in the pool – not so great – but on the bike, wow! Genuinely really impressed. It is a lot like rocket fuel. I took some extra but wish I’d had enough to fill a third bottle it was that good. I had a spare pouch of the High5 but missed having the Tailwind. My belly hasn’t felt badly and it wasn’t too sweet and sickly either. Going to stick with it and see how it goes.
  2. My cycling fitness – It has definitely improved this year, massively. But also over the last few years. 112 PR/2nd/3rds on Strava on that route – and more importantly, not once did I unclip up any climbs, including a very long climb out of Leavening and a climb out of Thixendale at 17% and with some help admittedly, I am also managing to maintain a good pace and dig deep at the end of a ride too. I am feeling very smug tonight. I also managed to average just shy of 15mph too. Former attempts at the York 100 have been so much slower and compared to my riding at the beginning of the year? Well. I am sooooo on it!

All in all, today was a very good day in the office!

Rumblings and Grumblings!

“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling” – Jean de Gribaldy

I often let myself get talked into some daft ideas. Last weekend was no exception.

Last Friday I got talked into cycling the Ryedale Rumble two days following. One of the lads who comes in to work had been roped in via work and was not happy about it and in all honesty, I was a bit worried about him doing it. He was supposed to be doing the 100 miler but had decided he was doing the shorter 50 miler. Wise choice I thought, but in it being a wiser choice, I was still a bit nervous about him doing it, and after a brief conversation and failure on my part to look at the weather forecast, I agreed to go do it with him.

That’s the reason I ended up, on a very wet and windy morning at Ryedale School.

I spend all of Saturday grumbling to anyone and everyone about how horrific this ride was going to be and how if I didn’t turn up to work on Monday we would all know why. Turns out the weather was as rubbish as expected and that Boltby Bank really is that step. I was warm enough but even my waterproofs didn’t last the long haul. I should have been miserable.

It’s turned out to be one of the best rides ever – yes it was slow, yes it was wet, yes the wind was howling (literally getting blown sideways), but some how, I spend most of the ride grinning. How much of that had to do with knowing that I had put some miles in my legs, as well as just accepting I was going to be wet, I don’t know. Part of my does know, however, that I actually proved to myself that I can ride in pretty awful conditions and survive! Think it has definitely done my mental strength some good!

Actually beginning to feel rather excited about next year’s racing and what I might actually be able to achieve – coupled with this year’s TTs and the temptation to go play at cyclocross……

Solo riding

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennedy

This morning, this quote is true. It’s been a bit cloudy and overcast but still warm and a bit breezy.  I’ve been after getting a longer ride in all week with being off work but it hasn’t happened so after a bit of a lie in this morning, I actually made the effort to get up and set myself a target of cycling 50km solo. There is also the little matter of a 68 mile sportive I’ve signed up to…

To a lot of people, 50 solo kilometres of riding, isn’t anything major. It isn’t the first time I’ve done it either, but it’s the first time since I’ve become single I’ve set out to just ride with no destination really in mind and ridden. I suppose at the moment, I need to get used to riding solo as he was my main cycling partner. After a conversation with a mate this morning, I am considering joining local cycling group beyond that of the tri club to get some more miles in with other people – that’s quite daunting and I could ride with the club but at the moment, I don’t want to be any where NEAR my ex and her. There are a couple of others I’d quite like to avoid too at the moment as I don’t trust them after recent events. Mainly due to my ex in all honesty.

Anyway, back to my actual ride. Normally, I get a bit sick of my own company on the bike, especially when things are hard. Today was quite a revelation – it was a bit hard at times, trying to maintain a decent pace into a bit of a headwind but it was actually quite nice to be eating up the miles and the 57km ridden actually flew by uneventfully. I wish I had eaten breakfast though, I mean, I managed it but really should have eaten. My appetite still isn’t 100% normal. Also need to figure out what works breakfast wise too I think. Riding solo was good today, I don’t think I thought about very much actually while I was riding. Partially zoned out of my own thoughts while concentrating on the cycling. I am taking this as a good sign, even though I know some rides will be far more challenging, with future plans formulating, I am taking this as a good sign.

Lessons learnt – EAT breakfast before cycling and solo miles cycling can be therapeutic!