The mountains are getting closer

I made a big cycling purchase a few months ago, after my bike it was the most money I’ve spent on a single item related to cycling. I thought I was in the market for a new turbo trainer, something that would give me feedback, show me how I was progressing and get me motivated to stay on there longer, that was my goal. I already owned a turbo, it was a very basic one and to be honest it was just gathering dust, I love spinning classes but I found turbo training really boring.

I’m really time poor, work is busier than ever and Savannah has become a little person with a voice and with her own view on how we should spend our weekends together. I’ve entered some really big events this year so I’ve had to up my training, last year I was riding before work at 06:00 (after the clocks changed) but they were fairly gentle rides 10-20 miles with one bigger ride at the weekend. I knew that wouldn’t be enough this year but I couldn’t commit the time to real road miles in the week with work and a 2year old.

I went all out and purchased a Wahoo Kickr. I did all the homework, I read review after review and compared it to all the others on the market but I decided nothing else really compared to the Kickr. It was a huge outlay of money but it really has been money well spent. I’ve already clocked up some great mileage on there and simulated some big climbs but what attracted me to the Kickr was it’s open source, it allows software developers to create programs and training aids for it and I’ve used quite a few of them already.

It was easy to set up and it connects to my iphone, ipad and laptop. The Kickr does come with a 10 speed cassette so my Dad and his mechanical skills were required to change the cassette to a 9 speed but he did this with no problem. If you haven’t got the skills your local bike shop could always help with this too, there’s really clear instructions on You Tube.

I started off using the Sufferfest videos, I’d used them before on my old manual trainer. I have to be honest and say I got about 10 minutes in to it and I couldn’t turn the pedals, I gave up. The Kickr controls the resistance, it sets the gradient / resistance you should be riding and I really struggled. When I used these videos in the past I clearly didn’t have the resistance up high enough.

I logged on to Trainer Road, an app that connects you to a variety of training programs and through this I found the 3LC videos. I’m not usually drawn to ladies specific cycling products but on this day I downloaded their Ladies Road Race, I had no idea what to expect. The 3LC workout is a studio based fitness session, in this particular session there’s a group of ladies on turbo trainers and 2 coaches taking them through the stages of the ride offering guidance and motivation. It’s designed to make you, the person at home feel like part of the class and it works. I was immediately immersed in to the session and I enjoyed having the coaches there, giving me the instructions. You ride and train with cadence so ideally you need to have the ability to measure this as you’re riding. I really enjoy group exercise so this 3LC session was a great way to ride for an hour at home and never feel bored. The session had everything, we warmed up and we did some intervals, threshold, hills, sprints and cool down. I’ve never had any coaching or professional instruction on how to ride a bike, I just jumped on and worked it out so having this professional support and guidance through the session was quite a revelation. I’ve worked with PT’s in the gym and seen huge benefits from this, having professional cycling coaches guiding you through the stages on the ride was a similar experience, I gained so much from that hour on the bike.

I repeated this video over a period of 3 weeks, it was a really busy work time and I didn’t get to ride on the road at all. The next time I did get out on the road I was a little bit taken back by my own progress. I came to the first hill and kept my cadence up, like the coaches in the video trained me to and I got a PB on the hill (in January on my heavy, winter bike). It wasn’t just the fact that I got a PB but it was the way I rode that hill, I felt strong, I went in to it with different confidence and more power because I knew I’d been riding hills with a high cadence and at high speed in the video session so I knew I could do this on the open road, I just had to commit to it in the same way I’d been riding in the 3LC session. My ride that day, out on the open road felt like one of the best so far this year. That was completely unexpected with no road miles over a 3 week period.

I live a really busy life, I’m a single Mum and I commute to London every day for a job that isn’t 9-5. I’m often traveling abroad and I’m usually in the office late at night. I obviously understand the benefits of a structured training plan but I’ve always dismissed them in the past. My life isn’t structured and I didn’t think a plan would suit me but after seeing such quick development, such rapid improvement I’m keen to try and make this work. The 3LC endurance plan is 10 weeks, there’s 11 weeks until L’Etape Du Tour. I have some big events between now and then so I can’t stick to it completely but I could try and structure my weekday training within the 10-week plan. Could this be the difference, could this get me over the Alps this summer.

Savannah was caught putting my shoes on and climbing on to the turbo trainer

Savannah was caught putting my shoes on and climbing on to the turbo trainer

Savannah always like to help, changing the cassette from 10 speed to 9

Savannah always likes to help, changing the cassette from 10 speed to 9

Savannah loves to spend the weekend running around Rushmere Country Park (and so do I)

Savannah loves to spend the weekend running around Rushmere Country Park (and so do I)

Savannah always asks when will she be big enough for pedals. She got to try some out at the London Bike Show but she still pedals backwards, her cognitive skills haven't quite developed yet

Savannah always asks when will she be big enough for pedals. She got to try some out at the London Bike Show but she still pedals backwards, her cognitive skills haven’t quite developed yet

Trying out chopsticks for the first time on one of our weekend adventures

Trying out chopsticks for the first time on one of our weekend adventures

My alarm goes off at 05:30 for my morning, before work, spin. I put my turbo next to my bed so I had no excuses.

My alarm goes off at 05:30 for my morning, before work, spin. I put my turbo next to my bed so I had no excuses.

Savannah loves riding her balance bike, she's very confident on it

I love seeing Savannah riding her bike. she’s got no fear

Not the only girl in the club

Apart from an occasional guest I’ve been the only girl in my cycling club for 2 years. Hoping to change this I decided to start a monthly, ladies social ride, an opportunity for ladies to ride together and be part of Ampthill Velo Club. In my advertising I let the ladies know basic mechanical support would be available on the ride, if required and no one would be left behind. This ride is inclusive; all ages and abilities are welcome. I planned a route, staying local, 20 miles in distance with a stop off halfway at a local cyclist café, the Bike Bus in Cranfield. It’s a converted double decker bus, on a farm. They serve excellent coffee, delicious homemade cakes, cyclists flock there every weekend and the banter is always lively.

I advertised the ride on Facebook and via word of mouth. As the days passed, in the lead up to the date 7 ladies signed up to ride. I was a little overwhelmed by the response as the first ride coincided with the Easter Bank holiday weekend. On the actual day, the weather was a bit bleak, cold and windy and we even felt some rain so I was really happy to see 5 of the registered ladies show up but also another 2 join the ride.

I work as an Event Producer so I applied some of my job skills to the planning of this ‘event’. Before the ride started I did a short briefing, I was aware one of the ladies had experience of club riding but all of the others were new. Learning the skills of club riding would give everyone a better ride and help keep all participants safe. I explained the basics of group riding going through the signals, calling for cars, pointing at pot holes and other obstructions in the road, signaling when moving out and passing a parked vehicle or walker/runner in the road, how we slow for horses and signal we’re passing by calling out ‘good morning’ as this can prevent the horse from becoming frightened. I talked through formation riding and explained the route that included 2 significant hills. We have some decent hills in Bedfordshire, unfortunately nothing very long but they get your lungs and legs pumping. We took on Cranfield before our stop and Ridgmont on our route home. We also had the descent of Cranfield after our stop and it was interesting to learn, as many ladies didn’t enjoy descending as ascending.

The range of abilities through the group varied but we all managed to stay together and there was some great formation riding through the session. The ladies worked well together and most importantly everyone had a great time. The feedback and response has been really positive and we’re all set to ride again next month, ongoing we’ll meet the first Saturday of every month. I’m no longer the only girl in the club and I’m really proud of what we’ve started.

Riding up Ridgmont in sweet formation

Riding up Ridgmont in sweet formation


No one gets left behind, we always stop and regroup

No one gets left behind, we always stop and regroup


Destroying the hills

Destroying the hills


We ride all the hills, together we made all of them to the top

We ride all the hills, together we made all of them to the top


Another 2 ladies joined our ride at the Bike Bus so 8 became 10 for the ride home

Another 2 ladies joined our ride at the Bike Bus so 8 became 10 for the ride home


The only boy in the club, along for the ride and the cake my ride buddy Darren joined us to help out on the day

The only boy in the club, along for the ride and the cake my ride buddy Darren joined us to help out on the day


My smile says it all, so happy to be out with these ladies and enjoying the ride

My smile says it all, so happy to be out with these ladies and enjoying the ride


Post ride lunch and happiness

Post ride lunch and happiness