02 October 2016


After Ironman Wales last September I wrote this post, and said how I didn't have any plans for a long distance triathlon in 2016, however it was something I would be interested in doing again.

Fast forward to the 24th September 2016 and I'm standing on a beach in Port d'Alcudia, the start line of the 3rd edition of Ironman Mallorca...

As with my Wales recap, this is going to be a long one. For the purpose of this post, distances shall be in km, although I'm really a fan of the mile system.

With a second Ironman there are somethings that you expect going into the race, but as with any different event there are a series of firsts to be had. For me this one held; my bike's first trip abroad, my first race abroad, my first mountain, my first Iroman with a non wetsuit swim.

Going into this race I didn't really have any specific goals that I was vocal about, the only one I had in the back of my mind was getting a PB and doing a good bike leg. When people asked me my goals, I usually gave the following list (the first being top goal, the fourth being a dream scenario):
- Finishing
- PB'ing
- PB'ing, with a strong bike
- Finishing sub 13
To say I didn't "train" for this race can be interpreted in different ways. I didn't train for an Ironman, I didn't really train for a triathlon, but I did do a lot of training. And I enjoyed the way I trained. I rode my bike, A LOT. A few days before the race I had hit around 12,000km of cycling for 2016. Running on the other hand had been severely low. I wasn't expecting much for the run of Mallorca, but I knew I could still make the finish cut off it if I had a good swim and bike. Although I had come to terms with the fact I hadn't done much run training, it didn't stop me regretting not running more. But the training had been what it had been, and I enjoyed riding my bike a considerable amount more than my experience last year. For me enjoying the sport, and my "training" was something that I do not regret.

Race week.
I flew out on to Mallorca on Wednesday, a few days before the race in order to settle, and mainly to sort out any problems with my bike if they arose. That night I assembled my bike, awaited the arrival of Lara (my friend who had come out to ride mountains and support) and then basically did nothing else. Thursday; I tested my bike, registered, pottered for many hours by the pool, met up with Lara & KPP for lunch, then chilled some more. Friday was the busy day. A short run, a practice swim, packing of transition bags, the race briefing, re-packing of the transition bags, bike racking, the final checking of the transition bags. A walk back to the accommodation, in the rain, followed by eating, rest, and relaxation. Or as much relaxation as you can get a day before you're about to swim 3.8km, ride 180km, and then run 42.2km.

An early bedtime, ready for the next day...

Race morning.
When you regularly get up at 4/4:30am multiple times throughout the year, an early start on race morning isn't so bad. Breakfast was 4 shredded wheat, and one banana. Plain and simple. I had a party in the bathroom to Ellie Goulding, watched "Rise & Swim" many times, then danced a bit more. We left around 6am to go to transition. As we neared the entrance we saw a large number of people heading back the other way. This isn't the more reassuring thing to see on race morning. Someone shouted that the swim had been changed to wetsuit legal, the water temp had dropped to 24.5c. For me, this news was fine. I had always gone into this race with the intention of a non wetsuit, for others who had just arrived in taxis without their wetsuits - not so much.

With nutrition on the bike, we walked to the beach ready for the start. In the distance thunder rumbled, and forks of lightening lit up the sky. An atmospheric start to the beach swim. A couple of warm up paddles, a pre race photo, and all too soon it was time to head to the starting pen.

I'd seeded myself in the 1:10-1:20 pace group. I was confident in my swimming, and thought this was the best place for me to be. I looked around a saw a handful of others in swimsuits, the majority of the field had decided to don the neoprene. Another dance party to the music as the pro set off. Then it was our turn. A final glance at the sunset that was unfolding to our left, then a jog towards the water. Numerous beeps of our timing chips as we crossed the mat and our countdown clock officially began.

This was my third open water swim of the year, one having been the practice swim, the other a "Pondathlon" a few weeks back on Hampstead Heath - slightly different scenarios. I was tossed, hit in the head, and climbed over multiple times. Things you expect to happen in a large open water event. I was squashed between two men, both in wetsuits, on multiple occasion. I may have shouted some rude words many a time during those 3.8kms.

The swim in Mallorca is made from two loops, one larger one, an Aussie exit, then a smaller loop. I checked my watch on the exit and couldn't do the maths to work out my pace. Swimming maths has never been a skill I've possessed. I dove back in knowing I didn't have much further to go. One final bouy turn around and onto the final stretch, back to the beach where it had all started.

Out of the swim, running onto the beach, stripping of my goggles and swim cap. You run through a shower situation where I began to take down my swimsuit (side note - I was actually wearing a sports bra underneath, not stripping naked..). To say these photos were unflattering - would be an understatement.

Into T2, a semi speedy change, and I then began the run, in my snazzy socks a long a carpeted transition, to my bike..

Bike. I clumsily carried by glasses & shoes in hand, grabbed my bike, and headed for the mount line. A less than elegant putting on of my bike shoes, and off I went. The bike course was ace. I loved it. It had a mountain, speedy flats, and an ever so heavy rain storm.

A long flat section leads you out through the town and into the distance. With my legs feeling like jelly I tried a couple of big gear movements to try and wake them up. For the first 20km they felt this way. I spent time too'ing and fro'ing with a lady a on TT bike, she passed me on the flats, and I passed on the slight climbs. After she sped of into the distance, I began to take the views in. There was a speedy section for around 30km, my average speed amazed me. At just under 100k you find yourself coming back into Alcudia, a brief visit before heading out back onto the course - this time with Col de Femenia in your sights. The climb was long but mainly one that you could sit in an easy gear and spin it out - a few switchbacks saw me get out of the saddle. About a third of the way up the heavens decided to open. By open, it was like a flood gate. Incredibly heavy rain that was bouncing from the tarmac. A fellow Brit cycled passed me. We looked at each other and laughed. "Just light cycling at home" I said, barely being able to be heard above the rain. This weather continued to the summit. I got very excited by the sign. It meant I was well ahead of the cut off - something I'd been worried about again this year as I had been with Wales. I was soaked through by this point and worried that the descent would be wet and dangerous. However, it was quite the opposite, the sun had appeared, the road was bone dry, the descent was rad. I had a great time heading down the switchbacks and down the mountain.

As we reached the base, the rain decided to return, and continue all the way back into town. With 10k left I looked down at my Garmin and saw my watch ticking around the 6 hour mark. Insane, I thought to myself.

6 hours and 18 minutes after I'd left transition, I was heading back in to change into my run gear.
I reached the dismount line, took of my shoes, and a made a soggy run to rerack.

I plodded over to the changing tent, and got ready for the run. I put on some clean socks, but these wouldn't stay dry for long. Sadly, the suncream I had packed remained in the bag, it would not be needed on this occasion.

A lot of walking, and the occasional jogging happened. 5 hours and 7 minutes after the marathon had began, I crossed the finish line.

4.5 laps of a course - not ideal. You get the final red band and know you're on the way to finish line. A finish line that still remains 7k away. By this point my feet were giving up, the outside and bridges started to ache. Those final 7ks were a walk, job, walk, walk, walk affair. Crossing the bridge for the final time, you the hit the "blue carpet" of the beach path. You walk past the people that have cheered you on for all the previous laps. It's not long to go now. The 41k sign comes in sight. The longest 1k I've ever experienced. A hobble, a shuffle, and then a jog. With less than half a kilometre to go, it's the last leg. Finally the finish shoots appears, and this time you turn right.

Now at this moment people normally savoir the experience, they soak up the atmosphere, they walk over the line and do a power pose. Anddddddd this was not me. I ran into the finishing shoot with a gentleman. Paul Kaye was announcing his name. I didn't want to ruin his moment, I wanted him to experience a solo red carpet. So I found myself sprinting for the line, into the lights...

And then it was all over in a blur. I was given my medal, had a photo taken, and spotted Lara at the barrier. I ran towards her, gave her a huge hug, and turned around to see others finishing. Looking at their times I spotted 12:XX:XX. I had a realisation, had I actually managed sub 13?! I wouldn't find out until I was back at the hotel that I had actually managed a finishing time of below the 13th hour. I was esctatic and incredibly happy.

An Ironman PB, a great bike, a sub 13 time. With disbelief, I'd discovered I'd accomplished my goals.

A HUGE bowl of chocolate granola, pool time, another bowl of granola, and a massive two scoop icecream. With two days post race, I hit the beach, enjoyed the sun, and relaxed. When I got home from Wales I went and got an ear piercing, rather than the traditional tattoo. With another Ironman done, and when one is in Mallorca... another ear piercing was had.

And then I got a cold. My event was done, and my body was done too. I headed back to London with a great experience in my memories, a medal in my hand luggage, and thoughts of a third Ironman very much in the front of my thoughts.

So, for 2017 I'm not going to say either way whether I'll be doing a long distance triathlon... because at the moment I just don't know.

Thank you to everyone who sent good luck messages throughout training, before the race, words of encouragement when I questioned what I was doing. And to all those who put up with me on training rides and runs. YOU ARE THE BEST.

12 July 2016


Looking up at the summit, you think "there's more? How can there possible be more?" You look down willing your legs to go faster, stronger, harder. You're searching for that extra gear that never comes. No matter how hard you stare at the gears another isn't going to magically appear. You imagine yourself spinning at 100 cadence ala Froome, you're most definitely not spinning up this today, but you're not giving up yet either. You dig deep, head down and keep on going. A glance every now and then willing for the summit to appear. Stroke after stroke you edge closer...

Every cyclist will have a different view on hills. Some love them, some will loathe them and some will completely avoid them. There's the natural born mountain goats, and those eager to tackle and grow in strength on climbs. There are the grinders, the spinners, those who remain sat in saddle, and those who will wiggle out and bolt it for the top. 

Not only are there different techniques, there are also different reasons to climb. To grow stronger, to push harder, to develop power, to explore new areas, to find that inner strength. And each cyclist has their own technique. To find yours the roads must increase in gradient. 

I climb hills for the views. I climb them for the achievement. And I also climb them for the pain. The good pain that when you know you're getting stronger with each peddle stroke. I climb them because I know they will make me a better cyclist, and I climb them because I'm too competitive not to give a hill a go. 

One of the other reasons I climb is because they tend to shortly be followed by descents. One of my favourite parts of cycling. The long swooping descents that take your breathe away and leave your eyes streaming when you're not wearing glasses. The descents where you question how safe this possibly is. The descents that challenge your body and make you feel at one with the bike - moving it unison as you sail along at 40mph.

But that's all the fun of it right? The fight or flight nature of humans disappears for a moment. In that time and space it's just you. Feeling at one with the bike. Moving with it. Joined as one. With climbing it's the same. You're in it together, willing the bike to be lighter, be more nimble, willing it up the road.

You can sprint, spin, grind or plod up a hill. Either way, when the gradient begins to lessen life springs back into the legs. There's a second lease of life as you think to yourself "that wasn't too bad". And then you want more. You want to climb more, you want to PB, you want to see more views.

All after a lie down first, you've toasted your legs with eagerness.

And so you find yourself plotting your next route. You don't ignore the hills or pray not to find one, you embrace them and seek them out. Waiting for the time when you can jump aboard your bike and push the limit each and every time. 

So what are you waiting for? Don't avoid the hills get out there and climb them. 

One peddle stroke at a time.

Post dedicated to Grace Lambret-Smith, who has some serious hills to climbs and just keeps going.

10 July 2016


A few photos from last night's Red Hook Crit race held in Greenwich, London.

05 June 2016


Yesterday was a day of cycling.

Working at the Nocturne, catching a glimpse of the Women's Elite Race, and riding around London at night.

A pretty awesome day/night.

07 May 2016


This time last year, cycling was tough. It was my first few months on a road bike and I was slow, worried about training and struggling to enjoy cycling.

Fast forward a year and since then a lot has changed - although I will note I'm still slow. Happily churning over 100+ rides at my steady party pace.

My bike and I have become quite the pairing. I've had some brilliant experiences, range of rides, and met some awesome folks so far this year. Most of my weekends are now filled with riding, cake eating, trying not to be too slow up hills, and having great chats with ace people.

Below are photos taken from a two rides I've recently been on, a couple of weekends ago now (my blog upkeep is a bit slow!). Including; my first London to Brighton and a spontaneous 100 miler.

So, let's start with London to Brighton...

Kitty, Lorna and I decided to head to Brighton. It wasn't a pretty morning, with heavy rain, frozen fingers and toes, and the temptation to turn around to head home.
When the rain just wouldn't stop, we briefly pulled over, reshuffled our phones, hunkered down and starting turning over the miles. Switching leader at the front helped the time pass by. At mile 30 we found refuge in a pub with an open fire. A quick pit stop to refuel on hot chocolate, dry out the gloves, and it was time to get back on the road.

With the seaside town not far in the horizon, KPP and Lorna briefed me on the Beacon ahead.

We reached the top and looked over the view, the sea just over the hill in the distance. We sailed down the other side into the city where we took a brief stop at the seafront, and I grabbed a Calippo. A spin to the station, hop onto the train. Adventure over, back to the big smoke.

KPP did a brilliant recap on the day which you can read here.

The Spontaneous 100 Miler...

The day after London to Brighton, I had another early wake up. This time, ready to meet Chris & James at 6am for a ride out. The plan was originally a 70 mile ride through Kent. 120 miles later I returned home, filled with cake, legs sore from a bit more climbing than I'd become accustomed to. The sun rose as we skipped our way out of London, missing the traffic by waking early.

As the day flew by, the gilets & arm warmers were stripped. The clouds cleared, and things started heating up. It was James' bike, Charlie's, first proper ride. The mountain goat and mountain bear sailed up hills. I enjoyed the views, and survived by eating my way around Kent.

One major lesson learnt - do not clip out on Vigo Hill. I do not recommend that, at all.

We had our final cake stop at Cadence, before we cycled home. Another ace day of exploring on our bikes complete.
Final note - apparently Chris lived in Kent for 20 years, but he only told us once or twice...

Separate post coming up about the 1000kmcc Blue Egg Audux, as some seriously awesome photos were taken that day. Richard has written a full photo essay over on the 10000kmcc blog - highly recommend to check that out!

07 March 2016


Recently I made the trip further up North (I come from Cornwall so anywhere up country is referred to as "up North"...) to start a new job in London. As part of the new job I've entered the world of commuting. Commuting via the bike, to be precise.

In the past few weeks I've regularly been riding the 8/9 miles to work (and back) at least 4 days a week. Most days I'll add some extra distance in, normally in the morning, by cycling around Regent's Park. Since starting cycling I've pick up a few things along the way, that I thought I'd share...

1. Cycling in the rain is okay.
Yes it's a sometimes a bit grim when it chucks it down and you're heading to work, but you can arrive with smugness knowing you've got a few miles under you. Also, there will be dry clothes, hot showers and facilities to make a cup of tea, all waiting for you (hopefully!).

2. Cycling in jeans doesn't really work. Cycling in jeans, when it's raining? Most definitely not okay. 
They have been some evening's when I can't be bothered to change into my cycling gear to head home. I learnt the hard way that rain, jeans and cycling - do not mix. At all. Cycling in jeans I can bare with. But next time it's chucking it down outside - I'll make sure I changed back into me cycling kit before I head out the office. To add to this - always make sure that you have a pair of dry cycling clothes as well. Nobody wants to that grim feeling of putting wet clothes on to cycle home with.

3. It trumps public transport.
One day a week I'm currently getting the train to work on a swim/run day. This is great for my body, but not so much on my mind. It's slightly quicker to cycle home, free and the fresh air (although not completely fresh as it is London roads...) is a nice way to start and end the working day.

4. Plan the route and hold your line.
Whilst some may disagree about cycling in the middle of the road, if the traffic is busy and cars are all in the rush - it's where I'm going to be. It may be slightly frowned upon by other cyclists but for some sections of a road it's the safest place to be, especially in London where buses are pilling in and out all over the place.

5. You will find yourself racing other commuters.
Whether it's a business man on a Boris bike, or an everyday commuter smashing it's on his Brompton - the race is always on. It's even better when you're all lined up at the traffic lights eagerly waiting for it to change. Then it's a free for all to speedily make it to the front.

What are your tips for commuting and how what would you suggest to newbie commuters?

01 January 2016


No compaints about the weather today, no moaning about the little climbs I might face along the way. The route was a well known two loop affair, perfect for a 5:20am ride. I like early mornings, even more so when it means I'll avoid the 40mph winds forecast for the afternoon...

Two jerseys, one jacket, one gilet, 2 pairs of socks, 2 bottles, one Clif Bar and pre-ride nutrition of Cornflakes - it was time to ride! Each of the larger loops were around 20 miles long with a section in the middle where I would do 4 loops of a road. Due to such an early morning, and the last day of over 300 miles, I wanted to keep the route simple and flat(ish). The first lap went well, with a little bit of wind resistance during a flat section. Normally, wind like this would irritate and annoy me. But doing this challenge has helped me to embrace the wind, ever so slightly. I then performed three laps of my roundabouted road. A further 10 miles ridden before I soon began the start of the second loop - the home straight was in sight. One more road lap and I was on my way home.

The weather was perfectly dry, apart from the two short and heavy freezing downpours. I couldn't help but smile riding through the torrential rain, car drivers looking a bit perplexed at a cyclist riding in this weather.

I got home, stopped my Garmin and thanks my legs for holding it together this past week.

This was a brilliant way to finish off the year. After a couple of days thinking that I wouldn't actually finish the challenge. I've learnt that a lot about the conditions I can now cycle under - wet rain and wind are now longer excuses for missing rides! In Decemeber 2014 I cycled four times, three of which were on a gym static trainer. A year later and I've ridden over 400 miles in a month, with only 3 of those rides being inside. It's been a great year learning a new sport. I can't wait for 2016 and the adventures I'll be having on my bike!

Total stats - 507k, 8 days, 9 rides, 22 hours of cycling and apparently nearly 20,000ft of elevation gain. 

I've just taken part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I've tweeted,instragmmed and blogged my journey. You can catch all the posts here - #Festive500