British Cycling Ride leader

A few weeks ago I applied, and was accepted, to attend the British Cycling Ride Leader level 1 course. Passing the course will allow me to lead my own Breeze rides (once I’ve been on a first aid course, the following week).

Breeze is a British cycling initiative to get more women into cycling. Women volunteers lead free rides in their local area; making cycling more accessible and sociable to encourage more ladies to join in the fun.

When I first started training for London-Surrey 100, in 2014, I went on a Breeze ride lead by Sam in Swindon and that led to me meeting loads of women cyclists and having a great time for several years while I lived in that area.

I’m very excited and just want to get going! I hope there are some local ladies that want to go out on rides (and I hope they don’t mind hills and country-lane traffic because they’re unavoidable around here!)

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One

The little one had his birthday in March, and we celebrated it by taking him out on a bike ride in his trailer (which was an early birthday present).

We treated him to a bike ride to a farm cafe 9 miles away, had lunch and cycled back. It started off sunny, but by the time we’d eaten it was chucking it down. It’s been a while since I’ve been soaked through to the skin on a bike ride, because I am very much a fair weather rider nowadays, and I can’t say I’ve missed it! I dragged his there and Ollie dragged his back into a headwind!

We’ve had a few of these family rides, where one pulls there and the other back, and finally last week I was brave enough to take him out in the trailer on my own. Although I did have a safety net because my Mum and Dad were at my house, so if anything had gone wrong they would have come to our rescue.

It was wonderful! A lovely sunny day, I did some hills and then finished with the big hill into the village which almost did me in!! And the rest of the day to eat guilt-free chocolate!

The boy slept for pretty much the whole ride. I am imagining every nap time to be like this through the summer. 😀☀

An introduction to cycling

Almost a month ago, at 11 months old (well, a day off of 11 months), Sebastian went on his first bike ride.

We bought a second-hand Croozer Kid2 as recommended by a fellow cycling parent. Sebastian sat in one seat, and “Cow Cow”, his large Jellycat Cow, sat in the other, both tucked up under a quilt.

Ollie attached the Croozer to his Giant TCR, and off we went on a short trial ride, to coincide with nap time.

Sebastian was so amazed and excited that he fought sleep for half an hour or so, but finally gave in and had a nap for the last few miles of the 10 mile ride.

10 miles, which took us an hour! It was hilly, and a lack of maintenance and cleaning had taken toll on our bikes and Ollie was subjected to a problem that I had experienced earlier in the week; he was unable to change down off of the big ring. Making what was already a challenge, towing a trailer with a small person and cow, even more difficult. He did very well, and I struggled to keep up with them!

Sadly a nasty bug kept us from repeating the experience the following weekend, and then other commitments kept us away from our bikes last weekend. But this weekend we were free and (semi) healthy, so we decided to have another trial ride, this time with me towing.

After some domestic delays (yawn!), we departed for our ride somewhat late, so I made a last minute suggestion that we ride to a local farm cafe for lunch. We stuck a packed lunch in the ‘boot’ (trunk) of the trailer for the little one and headed off on what was supposed to be a 10 mile ride.

The cafe, 5 miles in, was perfectly placed as I was desperate to use the facilities (waaay too cold for the SheWee), but closed on a Sunday. So, sure that we would find a pub if we continued, we carried on, going away from home.

We came across one pub that was closed, then went on and on, until we got to a town. We cycled right through the town, and were about to give up when we saw a tourist sign to a local pub, which we then followed. Frustrating that was the only sign and we didn’t come across a pub. We pulled in, and I had a cake to console myself, whilst hoping that I would soon find some facilities!!!

Ollie checked Google Maps, and some 8 minute ride away was a farm cafe and it was open. So, off we went for a lovely lunch, and a play on their play park. When we got there, we’d done over 13 miles!

Ollie offered to tow home, and it’s lucky he did – a strong headwind meant that it was very difficult cycling to get back and I was exhausted. At one point, going up a hill my Garmin AutoPaused because I was going so slow! If I’d had to tow, we’d either still be going now, or we wouldn’t have made it!

Two naps, two play parks and a large lunch meant that Sebastian enjoyed his second outing despite it being more than double the length it was meant to be (24 miles altogether), and a 4 hour + trip.

How to wash a bike

How to wash a winter bike when baby is waiting

Spray it with a hose and tell it how lucky it is that it got that much.

Bounce it up and down a few times.

And if you’re feeling very generous, give it a pat down with a towel.

How to wash a summer bike when baby is waiting

Don’t. It lives in the, boarded, clean, attic half the year and only goes out it lovely weather. It doesn’t need a wash.

If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen. 

Pre-baby, Strava was a key feature in my cycling. It was a huge motivator for me and we definitely lived by the rule “if it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen”. 

In fact, on attempting Buttertubs Pass, I realised that I hadn’t restarted my Garmin and I went back to the bottom and started again. And on the return from rides uploading my ride was priority over shower, bike cleaning, eating… Even if I was half conscious on the floor, through effort, my computer was down there with me. 

And once I’d upgraded my Garmin, it was linked to my phone and rides uploaded themselves.

But, as with many aspects of life, it’s been all change. Yesterday I went for a ride (more of a commute actually) and I tried quite hard, but it’s yet to find its way on to Strava. I changed phone, and there’s not been the time to set up the connection. 

My previous ride took over a week to upload! And on occasion, I’ve been so excited to go out that I’ve either forgotten my Garmin or forgotten to press start! 

The majority of my rides now either don’t happen, or ‘didn’t happen’!! 

Jeans

This week I tried to get into some pre-pregnancy jeans.

I think I might have tried them on a couple of weeks post-partum, at which point they didn’t fit and I shouldn’t have expected them to.

Now though, they fit perfectly.

“Brilliant!” you might think. “Welldone” you might say; in fact some did.

But, this is bittersweet, because while it is nice that my waist has returned to normal, my leg muscles have not. 16 months ago these jeans did not fit, because for a short time, I was quite fit and had leg muscles, which meant I grew out of my jeans!

Oh well, at least I don’t need to buy a new pair of jeans. 😁

 

A new challenge for 2017

I began this blog in 2014 when I was new to cycling, and I was preparing to do the London-Surrey 100. I had been entered into the event by my brother, and had previously not ridden very far at all. The thought of cycling 100 miles seemed crazy –  I’d seriously think twice about a car journey of 100 miles. But I did the event, and then I did it again in 2015. With resevations about the way London-Surrey is run, Ollie and I looked for a new challenge in 2016 – and so we cycled 200 miles doing Vatternrundan in Sweden. After Vatterundan I barely cycled, I was pregnant and renovating a house, I didn’t have the time or the inclination. But now, with a baby in tow, I am back on my bike and my brother thinks I should be doing a new event!
He has kindly recognised that I will have far few hours in the saddle this year, and thus thinks I should concentrate on hill climbing, and that I should enter in the to Walbury Hill Climb!
Ollie and I had discussed the fact that we wouldn’t be able to do endurance cycling anymore, so I had decided I would just try to get faster, you see hills and I don’t really get on!
Have you ever heard of a cyclist who is atrocious at getting up hills, and terrified of going down them? Well, that is me. Though, in my defence, I have only ever got off and given up on one hill, and one (or two?) mountain in the last 3 years of cycling. Have you tried to get up Bushcombe Lane in Gloucestershire?!? (It is truely evil! There is one corner, which is so difficult – I ended up in the verge twice just trying to get up it). And the mountain/s was purely down to the heat – I don’t fare well in excessive heat.
It is true that we have a nice steep hill right on our doorstep, and that I could do hill reps, and I have in fact been up it since I started back at cycling; I think if there had been any, then walkers would have overtaken me! A runner felt so sorry for me that he took the time to shout “You’re doing well!”.
No, hills and I don’t get on.
I think for 2017, my challenge will simply be bringing up the future winner of the Tour De France, in a way which keeps him happy (or at least not wailing).