Helen Wyman CX clinic at Palmer Park 

A trek from cold Oxfordshire to freezing West Berkshire this morning, with flurries of snow on the motorway was a great prelude to a day that never got above 4 degrees with a bitter northern wind. Thankfully there was no snow or rain, but I struggled with staying warm without being on the bike for the morning session.

Whilst led by Helen, Stef has definitely got the louder voice! 

A talk on tyre pressure, for different types of tyres, and Stef, Amira Mellor, Helen and Caroline Stewart went around checking them. I’m still surprised that anyone had more than 30psi in theirs (although if you’ve ridden in on the road, I kind of get it!)

I took notes when Stef and Helen were taking the morning session, but I’m not going to give it all away!

They started with a follow my leader to help shake the edge of cold off, then onto crop circles and figure of eights. Just watching and listening to the four of them gave me ideas of what to practice, and most importantly why.

Then dismounting and remounting, how, when, why, where to get off the bike, and how to carry it. There may have been a slight disagreement between Helen and Stef over how Helen carries her bike! 

Then remounting at the top of the bank… which did see a couple of crashes!

Then onto a session with riding and running a steep, rather slick bank. Riding it, with enough speed and in the right gear was easy. Carrying the bike and running proved rather treacherous, to my amusement as I stood and watched.

The talk of why and what line to choose as Helen, Stef and Amira alternately rode and ran became more apparent as they showed what and why they did what they did.

Lastly onto race starts, what posistion you start in and why, where your pedals are, on the hoods or drops. Gridded starts and Belgian style starts.

I knew our ‘predominately’ women’s session was going to be brilliant, although my dismal remounting actually made me embarrassed to be there.

We had a broad range of women turn up, Suzi Wise who usually races with me at the back of the field, Jo-Anne Perry, two of the 5th Floor girls, and even super Vet Alison Kinloch. Around 30 in total I guess, one awesome turnout!

Slightly chattier than the men had been, we were soon out doing figure of eights, first of all alone – in which both Stef and Amira came to give me some advice. I’d got the hang of always peddaling, but had to learn to put the spurt of effort in as I came out of each bend. Then we were up in pairs, and knowing Alison was faster than me, but also able to give advice, I asked her to pair up with me. It quickly showed me letting gaps in and her through, and I wasn’t quite able to hold the speed of her wheel for long, but it taught me a valuable lesson. 

Remounting was next. I was embarrassed before I’d even started, and eventually Caroline took me off to where Helen was giving Jo some one on one advice. I followed behind, kind of getting the idea. Then it was my turn. Helen had me jumping up beside the bike, but the fear of smashing myself onto the seat post or the wheel had me fearing to jump on the bike. I know how ridiculous it sounds. I berated myself and got rather frustrated.

As the women started practicing remounting at the top of a bank, I used the time to get off and on, off and on, again and again until we went to tackle the bank around the other side. I said of my frustrations to Stef as we rode to the other side of the stadium.

Tackling the bank, when I finally got around to doing it was easy. A bigger gear than I would normally, and speed. the drop didn’t concern me as it was short and had been well ridden in. A quick practice with shouldering the bike and running the bank – yes I am picking mine up weirdly because of a niggly shoulder injury, had me stuck behind one of the other ladies and slipping and sliding all over the bank. I had a right good laugh and later went back to practice it with Suzi.

We finished off with dismounting, jumping hurdles and getting back on before our turn at mass starts, both gridded and Belgian style – wheels everywhere and riders jammed in in every space. It was great, I loved the kick of the starts, with Stef warning us not to go into the red too quickly on race days.

What a fantastic day, with help and tips not just from one, but four coaches all with a fantastic range of knowledge and different ways to approach ideas. Learning how much you need just one hand to turn with, a different approach to remounting, and just how much you can learn from the experts.

I kid you not, it was bloody freezing, and it’s taken me nearly 3 house to get warm!

I swear Helen. I’ll learn to get remounting properly before the season starts!


A good ride captain

I wonder what you think makes a good ride leader? I’ve had experience of very good (Callum Clarke, Toria Jamieson and Louise Wainwright immediately spring to mind) and very bad.

It’s not just communication with others in the group, it’s keeping an eye on/ looking after others, including dropping back to check on others. The odd bit of praise doesn’t go amiss either. Knowing when to call out for pace/directions/stupidness is always good. Common courtesy and manners round it off.

Yesterday (Sunday 8th November) was a perfect example of how it can work. And if I think praise is due I will give it. An organised women’s (and partners if they wanted) ride starting at Sigma Sport in Hampton Wick, heading out via Cobham and West Horsley to the hill at Shere, and back via Cobham. Not far, and in fairly decent weather.
Sod’s law Callum punctured as we headed toward Esher, but great for everyone to see how to change a tube quickly and effectively – even with mudguards on.
Cat (or Kat, sorry if I’m spelling it wrong!) was our other leader, and they both held a good steady pace out through Cobham.
Throughout the ride Callum dropped back to check on the others, calling out quickly if we were pushing a bit too fast.
Everyone waited (like they should do!) at key points, the top of that sneaky climb at Shere or at junctions.
An extra bit through Bushy Park on the way home gave everyone an opportunity to stretch their legs briefly, and then it was back to Sigma Sport at Hampton Wick for coffee and pastries.

Everyone I spoke to really enjoyed the ride(s) and the unusually warm weather helps too.

Rather epic to treat my cx bike to a nice little spin on the road, some nice greasy/leafy sections around Shere made me rather happy for the awesome little rig I’ve picked up!


Plus. I’m a bit in love with my shoes! Limited edition Giro ‘Anodised Red’ CX/mtb shoes.


Oh. And the bike?


Not a terribly great picture, but I’ve been too busy riding it to take pictures of it!!
It’s a Kinesis 5t Disc from Upgrade bikes http://shop.upgradebikes.co.uk/Catalogue/Bikes/Kinesis/Kinesis-5T-Disc-Brake , with eggbeater pedals from CrankBros.

So much fun….

Even better I have a couple of skills sessions coming up. Caroline Stewart and Bruce Dalton have both offered up their free time to help me out a little. And Helen Wyman has promised a take over clinic.

As usual I can’t thank people enough! You amazingly wonderful people!

Meanwhile, here’s a few pictures from this mornings ride. This is why you should #ridelots






All taken from Kingston Bridge this morning.

Matrix Prendas team launch

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you probably know I’m moving this weekend!

This meant I knew everything was going to be done in a rush but as I had already booked a hotel room, I wasn’t going to miss it!

I was lucky enough to get in touch with Lou (@queenofthecols) and she suggested we share a room. Brilliant idea as I had not met anyone that was going to be there!

Duly arrived late afternoon and Lou had already checked in. After 5 mins I knew it was going to be a great night!

We arrived @lookmumnohands about 5.30 and ended up eating our dinner standing up as the tables were already being put outside to make room for all the people turning up!

Lou was on the lookout for all the people she knows and in due course I met some great people. Im going to use twitter names so:
Cleo pompom (nadiya)
_pigeons_ (Sarah)
And even managed to drunkenly tell Helen Wyman (@cxhelen) how much i liked Belgian beer! Oops!!

Weirdly I was far too shy to approach Stefan (must have been his good looks!) or any of the Matrix Prendas girls!

The girls had a great introduction although i was too far back to see them properly! Then someone shouted about a photo opportunity, low and behold a mad rush outside where the photographer nearly got hit by a bus!!

We had a brilliant night, and I’ve met some great people! I just forgot to take any photos 😦

In future roommates are to be referred to as Froomies… Autocorrect is a nightmare!

Anyway I have packed most of my bags and must get a move on!!

Keep smiling!