I chose to add some extra hills to my bike ride!

Tamsyn at the top of Cow Drove Hill

On Saturday, I was Run Directing at Southampton parkrun (again), so I didn’t manage to fit a run in. Lots of people have said that the new Route has got great PB potential, so I’m looking forward to trying it out next week. (However, it does feature two hills – well, one hill twice – which I don’t love as much!)

Long bike ride with Stu

Today, I decided to go for a long bike ride with Stu. I’ve been wanting to get out on my bike ever since we got back from our holiday, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had a chance. (I’ve been commuting to work every day, but that’s on my sturdy workhorse, not my lean mean road bike, so it’s not as much fun).

I started the day with some blueberry protein porridge. It’s quite sweet and creamy – I find it very filling. My aim was that I didn’t want to have to carry too much food with me on the bike as I’m trying to steer clear of energy gels and sweet snacks. I’ve also been drinking 200ml of it between LRR training on a Monday night and going to STC swimming, in the hope that I have enough energy to get through both sessions.

New kit!

It was my first opportunity to try out my new purchases: my Team Wiggle Honda long-sleeved jersey and bib tights šŸ˜€ They felt very comfortable on. I also put on my Cornish cycling socks, and a headband… then I realised that Stuart had on multiple layers, so I started to rethink what I should wear.

I decided to wear my Silvini cycling jacket as well. I’d not worn it before, but apart from my high-vis yellow jacket that I wear to work, I don’t have any other cycling jacket (yet). My yellow jacket is waterproof, but as a consequence, I find that I can overheat when I’m wearing it. I had also selected my favouriteĀ Claud ButlerĀ mitts, even though my Pearl Izumi ones are prettier and matched my outfit better… then I realised that Stu had full length sealskinz waterproof gloves on, so I decided to change into my work gloves, which have full fingers. I also found my clear cycling glasses, which had somehow hidden themselves.

It was my original intention to practise a flying mount and dismount, as recommended by Graeme, but on Stu’s advice, I put my new neopreneĀ overshoes on. This meant that I had to mount my bike with shoes on. Later on, I was grateful for the overshoes as my Cornish socks are very lightweight and my feet were freezing.

Although I’ve now got a reasonable amount of cycle clothing, I’ve been lured in by the new range of Embrace Sports clothing. I’d like to get a jersey and bib shorts and Stu wantsĀ tri separates. If we order them now, they’ll arrive in January, so they could be an early birthday present!

Destination: unknown

We didn’t have a firm route in mind when we set out, just a general intention to cycle towards King’s Somborne, which is where we have cycled with Di, KatherineĀ and the Uni tri club. I’ve not cycled in the Southampton area much, so I’m never sure where to go. One thing I did know about the route was that it is quite hilly.

It was my intention to practise the drills that Graeme did with us, but I was just enjoying being back in the saddle again, so I didn’t try one-legged cycling. However, I did try to take my hands off the handlebars from time to time. I don’t think I cycled any faster than I had before my holiday, but I did feel more confident and the hills didn’t bother me. I just kept telling myself that if I could cycle up a mountain then I could cope with a little incline (even if I had needed help in Portugal!)

The view from the top of Cow Drove Hill
The view from the top of Cow Drove Hill

Cow Drove Hill

After we arrived at King’s Somborne, I choseĀ to cycle up the biggest hill I know just for the hell of it! Yes, you read that right… I actually chose to cycle up a steep hill, just because it was there. Bikehike data suggests that it’s a 380m ascent over aĀ 430m distance, averaging anĀ 8.8-10% gradient… however,Ā Cow Drove Hill in King’s Somborne hits 12% after 20-30 metres from turning onto it (before you get to the speed limit signs) and then alternates between 11 and 12 % all the way up until about 20-40m from the top (before you get to the junction).

At the top, I had a bit of a go at taking my hands off the handlebars.Ā  I even tried a victory wave, just for John… but I almost crashed and Stu didn’t manage to snap a quick photo of me before I had to regain control. Perhaps waving both arms in the air whilst still on an incline isn’t the best plan of action for a novice!

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Coffee break

After a brief respite to admire the view, we cycled back towards Romsey. It was very cold, so we stopped at Costa, where I had a primo skinny hot chocolate and Stu had a medio Americano. I was so glad that he stayed outside with the bikes and I went in to order as I needed to warm up and defrost my feet!


The Garmin data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/408208631

Garmin data for long bike ride
Garmin data for the long bike ride

After we left Romsey, Stu and I cycled to The Common. He wanted to measure out a mile for his running group and I wanted to time myself on the parkrun route. I wasn’t sure whether I could cycle fast enough to be the lead bike. Fortunately, I found out that I could cycle the route in under 15:30, even with walkers etc in the way! We then realised that we had been out for quite a while, so we cycled to Subway for a salad.

I felt like it was quite a successful cycle ride, but unfortunately, I had an accident very close to home. We turned a corner to go up the last slope on a cycle path, but as we came around the bed we realised there were a couple of teenage girls in the way. I had to swerve to avoid them and couldn’t change gear quickly enough, so I stopped. I then tried to start again, but couldn’t clip in properly and toppled over, knocking my leg on a low wall šŸ™ I then turned around and rode back down the hill, so that I could clip in and cycle back up the hill properly šŸ™‚

Last bit of Garmin data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/408208654

End of long bike ride
End of the long bike ride

Nearly a Coach in Running Fitness

This evening, I led my last session (of an eight-week stretch) for LRR. It was the final session that I have to write up for my coaching diary. I hope I can find the time to do it in the next couple of weeks.

Swimming technique dilemma

Afterwards, I went to another Southampton Tri Club swimming session. I’m not sure how many lengths I did, but it must have been over a mile (1600m or 64 lengths). My challenge at the moment is that my swimming instructor is giving me different advice from the tri club coach. I’ve mentioned it to both of them, but each of them thinks that their way is right. One wants me to time my strokes evenly, whilst the other wants me to fix my breathing (as I lift my head up too much). To do this, I’ve been told to glide for longer whilst I’m breathing. The advice is contradictory, so I’m not sure what to do.

I can see that I need to take even strokes eventually, but it does seem more logical to make me more comfortable whilst swimming and then even out the stroke length. I wasn’t going especially fast this evening, so I was mostly breathing every fifth stroke, which always feels easier. There were a few strokes where I forgot to breathe, so I did it every seven strokes which was OK as well.

Any thoughts on which coach’s advice I should follow?


4 Responses

  1. If you elongate every stroke so that they’re all as long as a breathing stroke, then you can do both šŸ™‚

    To me, working on your breathing and head position will put you in a more streamlined position for longer, so you’ll go further with each stroke for free.

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