Cheers Femurs

This month I have been dipping in and out of April loves, a month of daily reflective prompts created by Susannah Conway. One prompt really stood out for me – legs. Like many women I struggle to accept my body but I have come a long way and it started with my legs.

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Dear legs,

We have been through a fair bit haven’t we? I have always hated you – well throughout my teens and twenties focusing on your size. The wobble when I walked, the paleness of you in Spring and Summer. When I started running in my mid twenties it was always baggy numbers, full length or cropped. Any exercise class was done in baggy trousers, in fact most of my clothing on the bottom half were baggy. I remember measuring my thighs repeatedly – cheering when the number decreased. Continue reading “Cheers Femurs”

Penny for your Thoughts

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Recently I have backed a couple of projects on crowd-funding websites – this method of funding companies and individuals appeals to me and I enjoy being able to read the stories and plans of those asking for help with funding. A couple of the projects I have backed have been cycling related and one is soup related. Today I thought I would flag up one of the cycling ones which is still open and able to be backed.

Now you might have heard of Penny in Yo Pants – it came out of the Glasgow Cyclehack last year. Actually the Cyclehack is happening around the world now and I would recommend following the hashtag #cyclehack on Twitter to get some inspiration and just see normal folks creating innovative solutions for cycle problems they have encountered. Continue reading “Penny for your Thoughts”

#30 Days of Cycling and Beyond

I managed the #30daysofcycling throughout April and in the end totalled 258 miles. My legs are sore but definitely look more defined and feel stronger. I also realised that I need to go back to yoga as my shoulders are almost permanently hunched forwards as though on my bike! I have realised that by making the concious decision to cycle everyday it shows how easy using the bike as my main means of transport in the city really is. It does help that I don’t have to carry a lot of stuff for my work as I am a desk based wee worker. I also discovered that a lot of my activity previously was taken up by walking which means that by cycling more I am actually less active time-wise! Quite odd but it has meant I have tried to incorporate other activities into my day and try to walk at lunchtime if I am not out running. Continue reading “#30 Days of Cycling and Beyond”

Holidays!

Last week we took the motorhome away for a few days, Mr Inelegant Horse Rider’s family are so sweet and let us borrow theirs whenever we fancy. It is a brilliant way to holiday, especially in the colder months and although it might not be considered as stylish as some of the vintage models I love the campervan. Of course I don’t have to drive it so maybe I should be quiet, on that front we had a few hairy moments as the wind and rain on the way back down the road was a little intense and scary.

We first went up to Durness, we arrived in the dark after an interesting route on a single track road for around fifty miles where a few huge deer decided to wander into the road, we were happy to wait for them to pass – the stags were truly magnificent. Luckily the pitch was pretty level (last time we used the chalks one of the them splintered and nearly took out my eyebrows) so we set up next to the cliffs and waited for sunrise. Even in the dark we knew we were somewhere special as the waves crashed off the rocks below the moon shone so brightly it showed us the big sky of the North. Durness is the one of the most north-westerly towns on the Scottish mainland, it is small and out-of-season it closes down a fair bit (totally understandably).
The Beach at Sango Sands Continue reading “Holidays!”

A Lake District Cycle Mistake

I have been on holiday to the Lake District over the last wee while and after the fun of Tour o The Borders I decided to cycle part of the route from Edinburgh to Elterwater. I was really looking forward to it actually, much as the roads are narrow in the Lake I have no problem cycling in traffic and I knew the views (and hopefully the cake stop) would make up for it. Well it didn’t go that well.

Using the wonder of technology (and the fact that I am cheap and slightly disorganised) I chose to use Google Maps on my phone to help me navigate from Penrith train station to Elterwater. The distance was around 30 miles and Google suggested it would take me around 3 hours. Now not to blow my own trumpet too much I know I cycle faster than that so I planned to be at the cottage 2 and a half hours after leaving Penrith, with a wee stop in Grasmere.

I woke up on the morning of the cycle with a headache and blocked nose, nothing too bad but why had 3 drinks spaced over 6 hours given me such a headache? I kept drinking water and packed up a few things in a rucksack for the journey. I had already sent the main amount of my stuff with my folks who were driving down.

The cycle from my flat to Edinburgh Waverley wasn’t fun. My head hurt and my temples ached. Hmmm, I tried to keep the positive thinking on the go though. The train journey was a lovely route and getting my bike on and off the Virgin train was a piece of cake. The only slight hiccup was when the ticket inspector told me off for not putting a ticket on my bike to let her know where it was going. The guards at Waverley hadn’t mentioned that to me and had said they would phone Penrith to let them know that’s where I was getting off. But to be fair to her it does seem entirely sensible to inform everyone where Cadfael was going as it is unlikely he would have hoped out at Penrith himself.

Cadfael at Penrith
The start of the journey!

I arrived at Penrith on time and collected Cadfael from his carriage. Next I checked the map and had some more juice, took a wee picture and set off. To begin with the route took me quickly out of Penrith, I promptly forgot to turn right so had to recheck my map, retrace my steps and then turn right 🙂 Then I was on small country roads, heading through wee villages and having some beautiful views. There was a fair amount of climbing involved and I still didn’t feel great but that was made up for by the scenery.

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I followed a couple of the major cycle routes (7 and 71) for a good few miles and was punted out onto the A66, a busy main road – in fact one of the main routes into the Lakes and a national speed limit road. There was a cycle route alongside which I followed for a while and then all of sudden the cycle routes went to the right while I had to continue straight on for a left turn in a few miles. I had to cycle on the main road and I hated every minute, I managed to find another wee road off to the right that took me away from the main road and allowed me a nicer route until I had to turn off the A66.

On the B5322 road again the scenery took over and it was lovely, a really nice part of the route. I was getting into the Lake District as I think of it so the hills were rising at the side and I cycled alongside Thirlmere. However, all too soon I was put back onto the main road again and at one point was on a section of dual carriageway. I had two cars pass me side-by-side and I will be honest it scared me. Very few of the cars slowed down for me and I felt really pretty unwell as I slogged up the hills. The views didn’t even inspire me anymore and it just felt like a trudge. I kept kicking myself as there had been an alternative cycle route to Grasmere signposted but I had gone with my Google Maps route and there was no way to get to the route unless I cycled back.

Lake district view

 

Lake District view

When I reached Grasmere, 4 hours (!!!), after I had left Penrith I gave up and asked for a lift for the last section over the hill. With hindsight that part of the route would have been one of the best sections as I walked it the next day, but realistically I couldn’t have done it any justice.

There are no pictures of the last part of the route as I was feeling truly terrible at this point. After the highs of the Tour o the Borders I probably under estimated how many hills this route would have (I know, I know it is the Lakes, mark me down as daft). I also truly wish I had taken an actual map, sometimes the classic options are the best. I have learnt my lesson on this one, I will always plan my own route and I will avoid the main roads if I can when doing a cycle like this – it was meant to be fun. But on the plus side it was a lovely holiday, more posts to come on that – including a more positive cycle one. Oh and I never got cake on that cycle but I more than made up for that during the rest of the holiday.

Grasmere cycle route
The route I should have taken to Grasmere

 

Tour o’ the Borders – Cadfael the CdF on the road

Over the last couple of months I have tried to turn myself from a runner and keen but haphazard mountain biker into a rookie road cyclist. It has been great fun! Okay so the fifteen mile training runs in the rain before work wasn’t great and the toil up Arthur’s Seat was tough but felt good afterwards. I have learnt to ride a drop handlebar bike, learnt how to use my gears properly and sped up a lot! I have a brilliant cyclist’s tan and can now get to the stables under my own steam in under 50 minutes 🙂

But even though I had done the distance, cycled the hills and put in a fair amount of training I still couldn’t sleep the night before the Tour o the Borders. Number one rule of doing a race, get a good night’s sleep. Hmmm not so much. Leisa picked me up at quarter to six on Sunday morning and with our bikes piled in the back of the car we headed off towards Peebles. The streets of Edinburgh at that time in the morning in August still have people making their way home from festival fun, it was odd to be up and off for a cycle instead. On the car journey down both of us were discussing that this would be the only cycle race we ever did.

We parked up and put the bikes together, attached our race numbers and made our way to the Green. We past the start line where some cyclist were just about to start their wave, the commentator was making everyone laugh and it did relax us slightly. We relaxed even more when we got to the Green, there were lots of people, with lots of different bikes , everyone was chatting and laughing. It felt like a gathering not a race in the sense I was expecting. I was in the 2nd to last wave but dropped back to join Leisa as she had been super conservative with her idea of times! Slowly we wound our way up towards the start line. The commentator insulted us one last time 🙂 ,then the countdown happened and we rolled over the start line. We were off!!

The gloomy start line
The gloomy start line
Goggles on for the start
Me and my mad cycling goggles at the start

The race was brilliant. I have to say the organisation was good although the 2nd food stop was at the point where the long and short route combined again and at the start of the looking hill – probably not the best place as we nearly collided with stationary people on the road and fasties coming down the long route. All was okay though 🙂

The hills were challenging but not as tough as I thought I got up each one without having to come out my seat and felt a real sense of achievement when I got to the summit of the hill and Leisa was waiting for me. The descent was amazing, someone had fallen but was okay. The views were amazing, getting up the hills to descend to see the valley open up before you was incredible. To be riding on closed roads, chatting to other entrants and spotting Clydesdales was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Climbing, climbing, climbing
Climbing, climbing, climbing
Beautiful valley views on the descents
Beautiful valley views on the descents

I started to get a pain in my right hip and leg around the 40 miles in but my mate showed me a great stretch for my hip and leg while on the bike itself. It meant the pain lessened but didn’t entirely disappear. I struggled a little towards the end from fatigue even though I ate a couple of bars during the cycle, I think I underestimated what I would need to eat and also opted for too many sweet things which just felt sickly towards the end. I should also have filled up my water bottle at the last food stop but hindsight is great and all that.

We completed the race 1 hour faster than we expected!! Mr Inelegant Horse Rider and my folks weren’t even in Peebles yet! We took just over 4 hours and averaged 14.3 miles per hour. That’s fast for me and we are pretty chuffed. I celebrated with a massive plate of macaroni cheese and a pint.

Woo hoo, Tour o the Borders - done
Woo hoo, Tour o the Borders – done

I also just want to say that my mate Leisa was amazing. She stayed with me when she could and waited at the top of the hills when she pulled away on the hills. We crossed the start and finish lines together. I definitely want to say thanks to her! Oh and this race changed our opinion on bike races entirely – on the way home we chatted about doing the long course next year!

Not the worst view in the world :)
Not the worst view in the world 🙂
We had clearly gone insane by the end - selfie time.
We had clearly gone insane by the end – selfie time.

Hills, hills and oh another hill

What a difference a week makes huh? Saturday last week I was following my mate up an incredibly steep hill as part of training for Tour o’ the Borders. This weekend I was sitting in my flat looking at the rain chucking it down outside and trying to motivate myself to start tidying the flat (it is a mess, there is so much mess that it now feels like a full day thing to deal with alongside trips to the charity shops and recycle bins). Part of me is toying with a wee bike ride but hmmm, I think I will be able to block that thought!

I thought I would do a wee update on how “training” for the sportive is going, not really using a structured training plan and I am relying quite heavily on the experience of my mate who I am doing the race with. Oh and also just chanting ‘Think of Chrissy Wellington’ ‘Think of Marianne Vos’ when I struggle 🙂 Continue reading “Hills, hills and oh another hill”