Aberystwyth

So, if you didn’t know already, I’ve been doing a lot of the social media for the 8 day long Aberystwyth Cycle Festival in mid Wales – from near the beginning of the year. I’ve taken this off as holiday from work in order to be up here for the events.
It started Monday with a mountain bike ride out at Nant Yr Arian – led by Summit Cycles 

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Griff Lewis making all the adults look slow

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Pic by Gareth Jones

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Pic by Toria Jameison

It was a beautiful evening, at a stunning location, with two different length rides. Sadly I don’t have a mtb – so waited until the return of the riders, with young Griff Lewis making it all look remarkably easy! I won’t mention how many times I got bitten by gnats… little blighters.

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Tuesday was Wattbike racing at MG’s Cafe , with two knockout rounds before a last few eliminator. I made it into the final, and wasn’t too far out! Video can be seen on the Aber Cycle Fest Facebook page. Although I will admit I got a bit of stage fright 😦 I also got to meet some of the others who work on Aber Cycle Fest; Jeff and Clint.

Wednesday was a day I had planned to drive up to Barmouth to visit my uncle, detouring via Aberdyfi and the Penmaenpool toll bridge before a quick visit for a chat and a cuppa. A drive back via Dolgellau and Machynlleth brought back tons of memories, and I was gutted that mum and dad couldn’t get away to join me. The a meeting to brief volunteers at the Academy pub in Aberystwyth – most volunteers had been doing the Cycle Fest for a least a couple of years, so I was definitely the newbie there!

Thursday was Film Night at the National Library of Wales with an evening screening of the Beryl Burton Story. A subject which I knew little about if I’m honest! A surprising message in the morning asked if I (and a few others) could take our special guest out, none other than Isla Rowntree! I said yes at once and left Toria to devise a route around her home roads. I had to drive over to do a few bits of work, so met them both at 2.30 on the seafront. Isla is lovely, and happily chatted away to Toria as we climbed Penglais and headed out toward Clarach and then Borth. Suddenly realising I was out of time – I left them to ride on and looped the long flat way back to Aber. It was a stunningly beautiful day to be out and I managed to clock a faster time on the 25% downhill in Borth!

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We met at the National Library of Wales at 6.20 – the film night a complete sell out and ended up turning a few people away in the end which was a hell of a shame. Sitting next to Isla whilst the film was on was a truly unforgettable experience – it’s someone who bridges the gap between then and now, especially as she actually knew some of them toward the end of the film. Beryl in herself was so extraordinary it was unreal. Then a fantastic Q and A session, with Shelley Childs hosting

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Ken Williams

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A much needed takeaway in Aber rounded off the calm before the storm… quite literally in this case!

I love being up early, so being there for 7 was no problem, although I did a cheeky lap of the course whilst the barrier guys were still setting up the top part of the course. I’d also resigned myself to taking part in the women’s crit – after the lovely Mark Turner put a set of edco wheels on. Running 25mm Conti 4000 IIs obviously…

A quick hello to the regular Tour Series guys, before grabbing a coffee and setting up a picture dump on the laptop. Sadly neither my new or old phone was playing ball for ages, so a wander around the course was on the cards

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With some promo to do too. I manged to nab Gaz Lewis for some ‘poster’ shots for Llanllyr Source who very kindly agreed to sponsor both marshals and riders on the Continental Welsh Wild West sportive on the Sunday.

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Well. He had to put the flags out anyway! Next up was ITV interviewing Shelley…

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Then the schools races with hundreds of children taking part – nice one Ceredigion Actif and all schools in the area as well as all the kids. The smiles on the faces were so worth it.

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Then it was time for me to get ready. Professional number pinning supplied by Michelle Wilson from Team Raleigh – you absolute legend! XX
Not much of a warm up to be honest. Before realising I was almost late – jumping on at the back for a warm up lap. Tamping down all emotions as I let detail sink in as I cycled behind the others. Watching and judging how they rode corners (some of them badly, really someone needs to teach them a racing line). Then back to the start. Focused on going when the whistle blew. Jesus they were slow clipping in. Then settling in line, annoyed they were so slow downhill – why do you need brakes in a field of 12 on that circuit?! Concentrating on their riding, how to stay on their wheels. By lap 5 I was getting dropped. I knew there were some behind me. I stayed on my own for ages. On the drops into the off camber corner, power up the hill, hearing ‘go on Elz’ from loads of people – such a buzz!!! same pace along the top, kick up over the small hill. Hard on the downhill – for at least two circuits I was nearly back on but then fitness began to tell. Vaguely hearing Toria before she came past and I had a wheel to hang on to with a bit of shelter for a while. Out the corner of my eye I had been watching a weather front coming in, marching blackly across the sea toward us, closer every circuit. Then sudden winds, snap, bang barriers going down everywhere. Between me and Toria, so I shouted the marshals to put them back up. Wind got stronger and I lost T in front of me as I shouted at all the volunteers that went past. Lost most of my energy, but carried on. It was nearly pitch black briefly as I rode up under finish line. Gritting my teeth I carried on, finding T had slowed around the corner. That’s when the last girl went past me. I had 2 circuits to go to catch her, and in the end having her in front of me give me something to aim at. That last *I will hunt you down* feeling as I crept closer to her, but in the end she finished in front of me by 50 odd meters. God that was hard. But so worth it. Completely knackered after with the main event still to go. By the time I’d got changed, it was hammering it down with rain.
I had to go out and saw everyone else getting drowned… this did mean that there was no presentation for the Tour Series, and the race was shortened due to the electrical storm we had rolling over.
It was a good race with Jon Mould taking the win… making it look a little easy!

Saturday was mental. Having to be at both the edco Hill Climb – check out the videos and pictures on the Facebook page and Conquer the Cliff downhill mtb event later in the afternoon. Both events were massive hits with competitors and spectators alike.

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Eventual winner Owen

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Rachel Atherton won the women's downhill

The downhill was sold out well in advance, and I got to meet the lovely Rachel Atherton and present her the winners trophy on the podium. Day complete!

Just the Sunday then. There at 6 in the morning having had about 2 hours sleep, I couldn’t have been the friendliest first thing. But as it got hotter and brighter, my mood began to match the weather. I did get to faff around on my bike after the last of the sportive riders had left – until I got told off bunny hopping the finish line one too many times!
A quick trip with Mark Turner to give the last feed zone extra gels was welcome relief

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All smiles at 10 miles to go!

For the last few people we seemed to wait ages. Dewi bought us ice creams as me, Sharon and Paul messed around in the sun. Until finally the last one was in and we began breakdown. Snip, snip of the cable ties being cut, the clank of  barriers being broken down and lined up, the pfffft of escaping air as the inflatable arch was let down.

Shower? Sharon you legend! Pub? Cheers guys.

What an amazing group to work with, and I must thank Shelley Childs for asking me to be part of it. It’s been long days and short nights and one hell of a team. Brilliant to meet some many people up there too, Gaz, Joe, Richie, Griff, Steffan, Jeff, Clint, Cliff, Keith, Ian, Sharon, Angharad, Sue, Dewi, Dai and the bloody brilliant MC Andy Davies.
Thanks also to Toria for letting me stay at hers.
Cheers for letting me borrow the edcos Rich, and thanks for fettling my bike Mark!

Strong enough? Or a point to prove?

Looks like I’m heading back to the cobbles of Paris – Roubaix again (My Paris Roubaix.) this year, this time with the lovely people at Medway Velo.
I’m highly likely to be riding the Colnago – yep, my cx bike, hopefully with borrowed wheels (TBC).
You wonder why I want to this? Because, despite my emotional outbursts, I want to prove to myself I’m strong enough to do this. Being surrounded by doubters has left me with a right ‘fuck you can do’ attitude, you don’t think I can? I’ll prove to you, I’m stronger than you ever thought I was.
And. I love those cobbles. It’s given me something to aim at…

So thanks to Phil Booth and Rob Kennison. Looking forward to joining the madness!

What’s your advice? Spare tyres? Chamois cream? Super cool bar tape? (Don’t even think about mentioning a road bike, I don’t have one) Nutrition to carry? wpid-20150412_114759.jpgwpid-20150412_113155.jpgwpid-20150412_115839.jpgwpid-img_20150412_142840.jpg

#excitedmuch #keepsmiling

Club ride with Dorking CC

Yep. I finally went for my first club ride with DCC on Sunday. I decided to take the bike up in the car and looking back it was a good idea although I could have cycled up.

I honestly can’t remember who I first spoke to, but was taken inside the sports club to talk to Jennie (club secretary) and to sign some bits if paper.
They asked what sort of speed I was doing and told me I could go with the D1’s (beginners as such about 11mph) or D2’s (averageing 12 – 15).
Now I’ve always been told to go with a slightly faster group, and decided on the D2’s.
Flic(k) was to be ride leader, and with 2 other ladies I thought I’d be ok!
So we set off on the cycle path up towards west Humble and turned to go up Ranmore Commen road – with everyone wondering why there were so many sportive riders out riding toward us. King of the Downs (Evans Ride It) I told them 🙂
Gradually more and more from my group overtook me until I rode up next to Flick (not sure how she spells her name!) and had a bit of a chat with her.
We had a right laugh shouting ‘morning!!’ to these very very serious sportive riders and seeing how many we could get to reply (not that many 3 out of every 10 I’d guess). Then we started up Ranmore and I was alright for a while managing to hang in until just before the hairpin. Then I died a death (could neither breath or push those sodding pedals round!) And yes I got off and walked until just after the hairpin (feeling a twat!) Then back on and I caught up with Flick before we got to the others. Cue a few sympathetic smiles!!

Now I’m not sure exactly where we went after that, I was fine hanging on near the back until we hit proper hills. Then I struggled! A nice run downhill – thank god someone said there was a t junction at the bottom. Then off again. The next time we stopped (at another t junction) we had Kingston Wheelers in the opposite side of the road waiting/resting (someone had come off I think) and the sportive riders coming up the hill next to us! Slight chaos! Chatted to a couple of lads, as we waited for Flick. Then we heard she had a puncture and someone suggested waiting at the bottom of the hill by the A25 to ease the congestion!

After a good ten mins, we set off minus Flick (she was fine) and I managed to ride the next hill out of the saddle on the big ring without noticing! Or getting dropped (cue victory dance). I remember we turned left at the top and being asked how many was behind me. I knew the other 2 ladies were somewhere. Off I hared after the rest and glimpsed one going down the hill in front of me. By this time I knew were not far out of Shere but otherwise had no idea where we were!

The other two ladies had gone and the bloke in charge told us we had gone the wrong way!
I remember going to put my foot on the pedal and missing, thinking I had just whacked my leg on the crank, I carried on. This was to be my undoing in a mile or so!
‘Your legs bleeding’
‘Is it? Oh.’ Quick look down but I couldnt see much beside a cat 4 tat from earlier. But I was riding back up the steep hill we’d wrongly gone down, then we went down another hill (we’d missed the t junction) and clustered at the botton.
‘You alright?’

I had a proper look, I’d sliced it good and proper but it felt ok.

We carried on, but I was dropped within a minute. Stiff and sore this freaking hurt to pedal! They did wait for me, and were rather concerned.

Did I want someone to get their car?
No but thank you!

Brian then asked if I wanted to ride back to the sports center slowly. Yeah, think that would be best.

I felt like a fool but hey! We made it back – lots of lovely downhills into Dorking on the A25!!

I thanked him when we got back, and set off home…

If you want to see the pic its either on Facebook or Twitter!!

Thanks Dorking CC for looking out for me, and it was a great ride on a beautiful day! Even though I can’t climb!! I’ll be back for more pain 😉

Then I went to Eastbourne for the E/1/2/3 mens racing and met up with Lois (@ClaudAndI). What a great chilled afternoon!

Keep smiling
I’m going back to work…
Ciao!

Dorking Original Sportive

I should have blogged about this last Sunday!

Whilst scrolling through Facebook I came across a link to UK Cycling Events. It was for volunteers for the Dorking Original Sportive. If you helped out you could ride it free and the 30 mile option looked pretty good so I sent an email off to Ben. Then I spent the rest of last week in a bit of limbo. I wanted to do the sportive but if the chance came up to go racing on a Sunday then I couldn’t really turn it down.

Sunday racing pays significantly better than taking a horse racing in the week and due to me walking the skint line it’s not something I can easily turn down.

Having finished work on the Saturday and not having to go racing, I was ‘free’ to go. Saturday afternoon was spent working out how to get there and re checking the route online. Then I get a text. Did I want to go out for a couple of drinks? Having nothing better to do I agreed, knowing Sunday required an early start.

So I had 2 drinks and got home at 12.30 ish. Set my alarm for 5, to make sure I ate my porridge! Got up bright and early and having seen the weather forecast threw some clothes on to go defrost the car!

Having loaded my bike in the car, had breakfast and 2 cups of coffee I set off with a plan to stop at Fleet services to grab some Powerade – my fave after ride drink.

I arrived at 6.50 to see most of the start line set up and duly parked the car up. Glad i had worn trackie bottoms over my bib tights, it was freezing!

My job was to sign people in. I got the surnames beginning ‘s’ and ‘t’ and helped by fellow volunteer Luke we spent the next 2 1/2 hours signing people in.

Find surname. Peel off timing sticker and affix to left side of helmet. Get the person to sign next to their name whilst finding their ride number. 2 cable ties, tea or coffee voucher and a Gatorade pre ride drink. Sorted. Onto the next person! Had a right banter with Luke and we got a good routine going.

It was near on 10 before I started and I had managed to find another woman riding the same route as me. Mandy is awesome, a great person to ride with and had me in stitches most of the way round!

So we had gone half a mile before I realised I had forgotten to turn my Garmin on. Swearing to my self I did. Then we met the first hill. Mandy spent most of the time swearing about half a pasty she had eaten. I just kept telling her she would be fine! We were both cold, and as you probably know Im not that fit but we made it! ‘Oooooh look we’re at the top!’

Down the next section, we started passing a few people and I damn near fell off at a hairpin bend going downhill because in the dapply sunlight I nearly didn’t see it! Still laughing I bombed on downwards, then as i passed a few people I looked over my shoulder but couldn’t see Mandy. Reluctant to lose her, I stopped where it was safe and let her catch up. She’d nearly been taken out by someone walking their bike backwards out of the side of the road!

We stopped just at the bottom of Box Hill. Then I realised my Garmin had been on pause for the last mile or so and turned it off in disgust. My own fault!

It had warmed up a bit and after a few mins set off steadily up Box Hill. The shear amount of people on bikes was amazing. Plenty passing us out, but we passed a fair few as well, chattering non stop. Thumbs up to the photographer. Chatting about names painted on the road – Froome, Cav, Stannard, Wiggo. Didnt see Millar tho. Annoyed me slightly.
Passing the very busy cafe at the top we stopped a little further on to take a picture of the view (its on Instagram) and of each other (on Facebook).
Yes we did talk about the Lance thing.
We passed a few more people in the downhill bit (thanks for the warning about the level crossing Phil!). Managed to avoid most of the sunken drain covers and before we knew it we were at the feed station!

I dont know how long we were there, I was in fits of giggles most of the time! Had some iconic jelly beans, bananas, cake and refilled my bottle with water. Later i was to find out that i probably could have used the High5 energy drink!

We set off again and it was little rise after little rise. I was feeling a bit knackered by then and any slight downhill was a relief!

We ended up, not deliberately, playing cat and mouse with a couple also doing the sportive!

It seemed ages until I realised we weren’t far off the finish. Then I got a second wind alright! We fairly flew the last couple of km!

It was great to meet Mandy, we had a right laugh! I found out later Luke had got round the standard course ok as well 🙂

It was very well organised, well signposted and I loved it.

Havent got the stats from my Garmin sadly. But will say the Mule Bar gel I had (it had ginger in it) was weird but did a better job than my high5 orange gel. Also I love the strawberry Clif Bloks!