The inelegant cyclist is born

I should warn you all that this is likely to be the start of a few posts about cycling over the next couple of months as I gear (like what I did there?) up for Tour o’ the Borders in August. Two weeks ago I finally accepted that cycling 12 miles a day on my commute was unlikely to prepare me that well for 55 miles and 3615ft of climbing and looked for a training plan. The mate I am doing it with has done a lot more cycling than me and is strong on her bike (and strong mentally, she has the ability to just keep going which I really admire) but she is also a social whirlwind meaning long training rides with her are unlikely to happen. So I have had to strike out on my own and I have found out something…I love cycling. I sang that Pharell Williams song ‘Happy’ as I cycled up and through East Lothian for 20 miles last Saturday, it probably helped that the sun was shining that day and I had been out riding earlier on and had enjoyed a great riding experience.

Last weekend was tough as I actually covered around 50 miles in two days (not a lot for a seasoned cyclist but a fair whack for me), this week I have done two twenty mile cycles so far alongside my normal commute and combined with two sets of horse riding I am pretty knackered but the changes have started already. I have started to notice my legs are becoming stronger and I think I can see more muscle definition on them. I have started to think more about my positioning on the bike, using my muscles more and ensuring that I don’t have a “death grip” on my handlebars. The training plan I have also gives tips of things to focus on each week and this week it has been balance and co-ordination, haha not sure I have either of those – check out my horse riding posts for proof, and I like that aspect of it as it helps me feel I am building bike handling skills as well as my muscles. 🙂 I haven’t managed to do any tempo work or threshold work as suggested so that still needs worked on, I might go to a spin class to achieve that more regularly. All in all though it has been fun.
view from one of my bike rides

helmet, bike and hi-viz
My lovely new helmet and my re-used water bottle. Had to move the other three bikes in the room to the otherside next to the bed to take this picture!

A downside to cycling does mean that I am running less, I need to start to motivate myself here again even if it is just to get out for 3 miles a couple of times a week. I miss my running buddies!

It also feels like I have an ever growing list of “things to buy”, I joke about the little consumer screaming inside me to buy, buy, buy and I am finding it difficult to resist. However, I think there are a couple of cycling-specific things I need to invest in:

  • A water bottle which I can drink from while cycling, currently I am using an ordinary bottle and have to stop to drink
  • A cycling jersey, or some form of cycling top that has a pocket so that I can carry food and not have to stop to eat – that aspect is really only for the sportive, let’s face it normally I am going to stop, frankly if I have the chance I will stop in a cafe with macaroni cheese.
  • Panniers, not for the sportive (although could be handed to carry my macaroni cheese and camping stove 🙂 ),  these would be really great for the rides out to the stables and my commute.

Ideally I want to try and do my consume less and more wisely principles on these and have been looking at Howies for both the cycling jersey and the water bottle although also scouring the ever-popular eBay for the jersey and panniers too.

So let me introduce you to Cadfael the cdf (named after Ellis Peters famous crime solving monk from the 12th century), my trusty steed for this one and I am looking forward to this challenge.

image

cadfael the cdf

 

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8 thoughts on “The inelegant cyclist is born”

  1. Hi Steph, if you have not yet found a jersey, check out Shutt Velo Rapide. (http://www.shuttvr.com/) I have recently learnt of the company and think I may give it a try. The jerseys are not cheap but that is because they focus on sourcing locally and UK craftsmanship.
    Good luck with the training.
    Meg
    ps – I love the Finisterre hoodie I purchased at the start of the year. Definitely an excellent buy!

    1. Hi Meg. I haven’t found a jersey yet – the closest I had come was a brand called Chapeau but they manufacture overseas – Shutt Velo Rapide look brilliant. I love the jerseys, just what I would like especially with the spots. Great find – thanks.
      I think I might need luck for this sportive but hey it is the taking part that is the fun bit. I ended up purchasing a Finisterre hoodie too (one of the longline ones), it is lovely and really useful for throwing on after running or riding – I love that company.
      Steph

    2. Hi Meg,
      I received my Shutt Velo Rapide jersey and it says ‘Made in China’ on the inside, unfortunately I didn’t see it until after I had worn it but I am going to follow up with them as my understanding from the website was that they manufacture locally. I just wanted to ask if you had heard directly from them about their manufacturing policy at all?
      Cheers,
      Steph

    3. This is most disappointing and contrary to what the information on the website. I’ve not had any further information from Shutt VR, and am now sorry I even suggested the brand as an option.

      I would email them to query the discrepancy. If you don’t get a reply, follow up by tweeting the company to say you have sent an email querying their policy and expressing concerns about information on its website. This may spur a faster and more satisfactory response.

      I’m also sending you an email directly with some suggestions.

      1. Cheers Meg. Much appreciated. The top is decent quality and I really like it so I was disappointed to read the Made in China statement on it. I needed a jersey so I will chalk it up to experience and hope I get a response that explains the contradiction. I will let you know how I get on.

      2. At least it is a quality item. That is some relief. But yes, definitely call the company out. I have done something similar with a yoga clothing company for misleading adverts. The company was actually really genuine and it was lack of experience so I didn’t take it further but as civic minded people (rather than just consumers) we should let companies know what standards we expect from them… (I’ll get off my soapbox now!)

  2. Hi Steph, I see you’re riding the Genesis cdf. How you finding it? I am looking at buying a road bike soon and the Genesis range has caught my eye as they are so pretty… But not female specific. Is it a good ride for you? 🙂

    1. Hi Claire. I love my cdf! Admittedly I haven’t really ridden any other road bikes but this one has suited me perfectly. The saddle is a little hard so I think I am going to change that and I have changed the pedals but that’s because I like big, fat pedals 🙂 I have also found that the cdf has taken most things I have thrown at it in it’s stride, because I previously rode my mountain bike everywhere I have a tendency to just ride over any surface without thinking (that’s definitely changing) and the cdf has coped admirably with a bit of off-roading and the lovely pot holes in Edinburgh! It is one of the lower grade ones in the range but the frame is great quality and will allow me to update the components as and when I can. In short, I find it excellent.

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