I was on my commute home from work, scrolling through Twitter and I noticed a Tweet from British Cycling. Without hesitation I found myself clicking through to the registration page and before I’d even had time to stop and think I was signed up for British Cycling’s South East women’s track skills session at Lee Valley Velodrome. I’d been told by cycling friends riding track was a great way to become more skillful on my bike but until now fear had got in the way of me trying this discipline.Continue reading “Fixed fears”
I was watching Bradley Wiggins wear the yellow jersey when I decided I would ride L’Etape du Tour. I was on my maternity leave and watching Le Tour had become my daily life. I started reading blogs from cyclists and one, in particular, caught my attention, they talked about the struggle, the adventure, the final climb, passing other riders who were either slumped over their bars or lying in the trees. They described them as praying to anyone who might listen, someone who would help them get up that last mountain. It all sounded a bit far fetched, exaggerated compared to my own cycling experiences but I wanted a piece of this crazy adventure. I was so heavily pregnant I could barely get myself off the sofa but I decided I would one day be fit again and enter and ride this event.Continue reading “A Grand Tour adventure – Allez les Filles”
A DNF (Did Not Finish) is a bitter pill to swallow; it’s one I’ve never tasted before. In the past I’ve always found a way to recover and fight back no matter how bad things have become. Despite putting on a very brave face the experience knocked my confidence and I was shattered. I’ve sat on this story for a few weeks because the ending has been unclear to me. Everyone told me I’d learn from it and I’d come back stronger but I wanted to see for myself if this was true or if people just say that to make you feel better. It’s taken a good few weeks to unravel and a few more big rides but on Sunday I took part in the Tour of Cambridgeshire and my Etape Du Dales DNF became very clear to me.Continue reading “Meeting the broom wagon for the first time – Etape Du Dales”
The girl said drive your car to a town called Ardrossan and leave your car there, go over on the ferry as a foot passenger with your bike. When you dock on the island turn left and just keep riding, you can’t get lost. You’ll be climbing hills all day, you’ll love it. I was half way around before I had time to worry I was on my own.Continue reading “This is why cycling is my calling”
There’s something I’ve wanted to do on my bike for a few years now. The time hasn’t been right in previous years, I was pregnant, on maternity leave or just not in the right place. I’ve been thinking about this challenge a lot recently and after my Grandad passed away this June it felt like this would be my year to enter L’Étape du Tour. My Grandad, Jules Tur was born in Casablanca, Morocco and raced with great success on his bike in the 1940’s. As a Frenchman, Le Tour de France was something he spoke of with such enthusiasm and high regard.
So I’ve got my registration confirmed and I’ve booked my accommodation in La Toussuire. My Mum, Dad, Savannah and I will set off on a road trip next July 2015. I will follow in the iconic wheel tracks of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome with a summit finish in memory of my Grandad.
It’s going to be a long, hard winter of tough training but that’s the bit I love the most. My cycling club has started a weekly night ride, we ride with lights and high viz. I hope to get out on that as much as possible and we still ride every Sunday whatever the weather. If I can keep up a few miles a week then all my hard work this year will set me up well for this challenge but I’ve never climbed a real mountain. I climbed to 902m recently on a club holiday in Portugal, Mt Foia but this is going to the next level and beyond. 142km and 3 mountains.
A copy of my Grandad’s cycling club membership card from 1940 – 1941
My Grandad lined up with his cycling team mates in Casablanca
Cycling through the streets of Casablanca in 1941. I might be the only girl happy to inherit her Grandad’s legs.
AVC nightriders winter training
Sunday club ride to the Hub in Redbourne, Herts with AVC
Getting ready to climb Mt Foia in the Algarve
The 14% steep cobbles back to our villa in the Algarve
Cooking up porridge for the boys (and me) each morning in the Algarve
It was very cold on the way down from Mt Foia
Climbing all day long in the Algarve
I was out riding with my club a few days ago, it was a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun was up in the sky, the temperature was about 16’. We were rolling through some beautiful country lanes at an average speed of 18mph. It was classic Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire countryside and just perfect for cycling. I felt an amazing feeling that day, it’s really good to ride with a club. I was riding roads close to home that I hadn’t ridden before and they took me to a lovely stop off for tea and cake Church Farm Ardeley
My club, Ampthill Velo Club meets up every Sunday at 08:00 in our town square, when the clocks change this moves back to 08:30 to allow for the darker mornings. AVC is unaffiliated, it’s a Sunday social ride. The group is all male except me and we ride 60 miles at an average speed of 17/18mph sometimes a bit faster depending on who’s on the front. Our group has some really strong riders and I credit my ability, my strength, power and endurance to riding with this group.
One of the club members conceived the GT, Martin and it’s all credit to him that we go out whatever the weather and ride as hard as we can to compete against each other for points. Being the only girl I compete against the boys, there’s no ladies competition, there wouldn’t be much point. The AVC GT is a competition of stages and bonuses. Each stage is a segment on Strava, a segment is a section of road that’s been mapped out by Martin that we must learn and ride. As we pass through the segment GPS tracks us, records our time, and puts us in to a leader board based on who’s ridden the segment the fastest. When we upload our ride (either using a Garmin or via the phone app) it lets Martin know we’ve riden the segment and the time we rode it in. On paper it’s a simple yet genius idea, it’s using modern technology in an brilliant way. It allows a very small, social club like AVC to have a timed, competition, riders can go out and ride the stages at their own convenience. Not knowing who is going to go out and ride next just adds to the dynamic of it all. Segments are live for approximately 2 – 3 weeks, sometimes more, sometimes less and they range from short sprints to long, lung busters of up to 9 miles with a bit of everything thrown in hills, fast flats etc. AVC has it’s own club on Strava so Martin can sort the leader by AVC so if another cyclist passes through the segment they can be excluded from the competition. However as with all Strava segments there’s always the hope that you’ll grab the King of the Mountain (KOM) or Queen of the Mountain (QOM) which is the No1 position overall on the leaderboard for that segment.
I set off the next day on my bike from home, it’s a few miles ride there and I figured I could do with the warm up. The weather was almost perfect, it was warm and the sun looked like it would make an appearance with a light wind. I let my family know my plans for the day and they said they would come later and cheer me on. After I’d completed 8 reps I got in to a good rhythm and knew I could do this, it was merely a matter of keeping my head straight as my legs were feeling strong but my brain was becoming completely twisted with each rep. I lost count on several occasions and had to start a tally chart with pen and paper. The repetition was surprisingly confusing, I started to think about what it would be like to attempt an everest, the number of reps would be over 100. Hexton is a busy hill with cyclists on mosts days, we don’t have many big hills in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire so anyone that likes hills will ride here as it’s one of our longer ones. It was a real boost meeting and talking to other cyclists and letting them know what I was doing. They all thought I was completely mad but they all gave me so much support and encouragement. They would ride a rep with me and really cheer me on then say their farewells at the top as I would turn around for another descent. I preferred the climbs as the challenge went on, the descents became quite unsettling, my brain was so fragile from the repetitions and hammering down the hill.
Link to my My Strava ride