Archive | Cycling RSS feed for this section

I managed a sprint tri in the space of a week

13 Nov Fitness instructor course materials

I really thought that I was going to get back into a routine of work, training and blogging with M starting nursery… but three weeks in and her attendance is 25% 😦 The poor thing has picked up every illness going and shared it with the household, so I’ve not had a lot of free time.

One thing I have been doing is getting out on my bike. I’m really enjoying my cycle commute – I had forgotten how much I love my quick trip to work, although it’s definitely more challenging with a trailer – and the logistics of adding it on and removing it have taken a bit of getting used to.

I’ve got back to doing a bit of swimming, starting off with a lunchtime swimming session with Liz and then a week later, I did a 1 hour swim set on my own. I really need to plan my swimming sessions more carefully (and ideally swim more than once a week). Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to swim at the weekend as Stu and I are planning to take M to the pool on Sundays. It would be good to also schedule a midweek swim session.

Last week we went to Southampton parkrun, where I had a steady run. I spoke to a few people on the way around and was pleased that my time wasn’t terrible.

parkrun 04 Nov 2017

This week it was my turn to run with the buggy, so I joined Rachel, Phil and Felix. We started off at a slow pace because of the congestion, but definitely picked it up by the end of the run. I’m not as fit as I was, so it felt really difficult.

parkrun results 11 Nov 2017

I love the chance to talk to so many friends at parkrun. I had a quick catch up with my friend, Teri, and we agreed that we need to schedule in some social runs. We discussed perhaps going for a run on Sunday morning, but I decided to have a lie in instead. It was the right decision as I felt shattered.

On Saturday afternoon, we drove down to Bournemouth to go to the Primera Cycle Expo at the BIC. I’ve been a couple of times before and have picked up some real bargains. This time, there was a lot of Sugoi kit for sale at bargain prices (£5 per cycle jersey and £10 for shorts!)… but everything was in enormous sizes, which was disappointing. Maybe we needed to go earlier in the day. After checking out the reduced kit, Stu, M and I walked around and had a look at the bikes. I still really like the look of Kuota bikes and the paintwork on some of the Specialized bikes was gorgeous… but what really caught my eye were the adorable Cannondale Lefty balance bikes. A sales assistant kindly got out an Allen key and put the saddle down so that M could have a go. She is still a tiny bit short, but I think by Easter, it may be possible for her to have a balance bike. (However, I can’t afford to fork out £200, so it’s more likely to be a bike from Decathlon than a new Cannondale!)

Cannondale Lefty balance bike

One of the most exciting parts of my weekend was visiting Bournemouth University to pick up some course materials. Next weekend, I  take the first step on a new career path (although I love my job as a learning designer and can’t see me quitting that any time soon!) I’m going to be doing a course to become a Fitness Instructor, so I’ve been busy studying anatomy and physiology in preparation for the course. It’s a bit challenging as I haven’t studied any biology since the age of 13, but I’m really motivated and excited to be learning.

Fitness instructor course materials

On Sunday afternoon, Reena and Mike came over to collect the Mountain Buggy running buggy that we took to Australia. I hope they enjoy running with it as much as we did. Like me, Reena has a place in London Landmarks Half.

Afterwards, we went and watched some of the cyclocross at Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre. I had planned to watch the event a year ago, but ended up back in hospital that afternoon instead, so I was pleased that I got to see some of the action as well as meeting friends.

In the evening, I read that there will be a new route for Southampton 10k, half marathon and marathon in 2018, which sounds exciting. I loved running the marathon this year, but I think I’ll drop back to the half in 2018 as I’ll be running a marathon in July and don’t want to have to sustain the training for that long.

Hopefully, things will settle down a bit for me in the new few weeks and I’ll be able to get into the swing of regular swimming, cycling and running with a yoga class thrown in for good measure. It’s not going to be easy fitting in blogging and studying, but I’m sure I’ll find a way!


Because of baby M’s illness, I’ve not been online much this week, so I was late to visit Rafflecopter to draw the winners of Haseeb Ahmad’s book From Blind Man to Ironman – apologies! The lucky winners who will each receive a copy of the book are:

Sarah Wakely

Michelle Dorrington

Congratulations, ladies! The books will be in the post to you very soon 🙂

 

Monday Morning Motivation – London to Holyhead 1964

9 Oct Finish of London to Holyhead race

Finish of London to Holyhead race

53 years ago, people were getting up to incredible feats. This short documentary shows the longest unpaced single day classic cycling race that took place in 1964 (not 1962 as the caption says). Does that inspire you to get out on your bike for a ride this week?


Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Chariots of fire – my review of the Thule Chariot Lite

29 Aug Thule Chariot Cross bike trailer

It’s coming up to 1 year since Baby M was born and so I’m planning my return to work. In the past, I loved my daily cycle commute – it’s not a long ride, but it’s just long enough for me to feel like I’ve had some exercise and fresh air and for me to unwind. However, I was worried that this would have to change.

I’ve been looking at ways to share my daily ride with M and I thought it appropriate to share my research as it’s nearly Cycle to Work Day. I immediately discounted bike seats. I don’t think that front mounted bike seats are very good – it’s hard for the parent to see and I’ve never seen someone using them without their knees bowing out to the sides. Rear-mounted bike seats can completely alter your balance on the bike and leave your child exposed to the elements. Another option is a cargo bike/trike, such as Bakfiets or Christiania, however, they are prohibitively expensive, difficult to store and often heavy, which isn’t great when you have some tough hills to climb. This leaves me with a bike trailer being the best option.

Swedish company Thule has been around for a long time creating products for travel and outdoor activities. They are a market leader when it comes to cycle trailers, which they have been making for over 25 years. Recently, some of their most popular products have been redesigned and rereleased, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to road test a Thule multisport trailer, the Thule Chariot Lite.

Thule Chariot LiteThule Chariot Lite stroller

Although I was interested in the Thule Chariot Lite primarily as a bike trailer, it easily transforms into a stroller. This is a massive advantage over many other trailers. I recently used a cheap bike trailer when on holiday. We were planning to cycle to a nearby tourist destination, but realised that when we got there we would have to carry M around. I hadn’t brought a sling with me, so that would have made the visit hard work. In the end, we decided not to cycle to the tourist destination; if we had had the Thule Chariot Lite, we wouldn’t have had to make that decision.

Thule Chariot Lite Thule Chariot Lite

It is also possible to use the Thule Chariot Lite as a city-jogger or a ski pulk if you choose to buy the conversion kits. This is a great idea. Having a baby is expensive and also requires space as they need lots of kit. Any way that you can pare that down is helpful. Before having M, I thought I had carefully researched running buggies, but I hadn’t realised that it would be possible to buy a bike trailer and running buggy in one. The RRP of the running buggy conversion kit is £110.

Thule Chariot Lite Jogger

As for the ski conversion kit, that’s not something that I would use in the UK, but I would imagine that it’s great for sporty people in Scandinavia or North America (or anywhere else where there is snow!)

Thule Chariot Lite Ski Pulk

There are plenty of other extras which can be purchased. My friend has an older Chariot Cougar 1 with a baby supporter. Her little boy always looks snug and comfortable, so it seems like a worthwhile extra. It can be used from 6-18 months and is a great idea if you have a little one who likes to snooze on the move.

 

Opening the box

Thule Chariot Lite folded

The first thing I wanted to know was how easy is it to put together? If the trailer were too fiddly too assemble then it might put me off using it. (I also needed to know how difficult it would be to attach it to either of my bikes or transfer it to my husband’s bike).

Assembling the Thule Chariot Lite

There were clear instructions about how to put the trailer together and even with the ‘help’ of an inquisitive 9 month old, it didn’t take me very long. I found that the blue buttons (that you can see in the image above) helped to make assembly really simple. They show you where you need to do something and the red/green indicators (that you can’t see in the photos) make it clear whether you’ve set it up correctly or not. It couldn’t be any easier!

A quick test in the lounge showed the straps needed to be adjusted!

It’s worth bearing in mind that you might need an insert depending on the age/size of your baby/child. Baby M is 10 months old and 10kg. She’s been sitting unaided since she was just over 3 months old and has been walking for 6 weeks, so she’s quite sturdy, but is still small (in comparison to a school-age child who could also use this product). The baby support (6-18 months) would be useful for her; for smaller babies there is a sling that can be used when using the trailer as a stroller.

 

Exploring further – what features are there?

Once I’d set the trailer up, I took a bit of time to explore it in more detail. The first thing I noticed was the stylish colour. I’m not sure what it’s official name is (I think it may be bluegrass), but it’s a lovely jade green colour, which is striking and (if you’re into gender stereotypes) suitable for a boy or a girl. More importantly for me, it doesn’t clash horribly with any of our bikes!

I was pleased to see that there is an adjustable handlebar. I’m just over average height for women and Stu is just below average height for men, so a non-adjustable handlebar wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for us, but it’s nice to have – especially if either of our mums has to use the trailer as a buggy as they are both quite petite.

Behind the child’s seat is a mesh area to encourage airflow. This is good for a couple of reasons: in summer, it will help to keep the trailer cool, also, if I were to use it as a running buggy then it makes it a lot easier to push without it inflating when running into a headwind!

There is also a large fabric and mesh pocket to store items in. This is good as babies come with lots of clutter, however it’s not quite big enough to put a week’s shopping in. I can easily fit my work bag in it as I’d like to use the trailer for commuting. (I usually use fixed panniers on my bike and am not whether I’ll still be able to use these if a trailer is attached). There are also two interior pockets that can hold up to 1kg – these will come in handy for M’s toys or snacks. When we went for a day trip to a local park, I put all of our stuff into a rucksack that I placed in the pocket, along with a picnic blanket and a spare pair of shoes for Stuart and there was still room left in the pocket.

Another feature that I hadn’t expected was suspension. This makes the ride much smoother for the passenger (and makes me much less worried about going over minor obstacles, such as small sticks and stones). Stuart followed me on his bike for most of my rides and he commented on how stable the trailer looked – he said it looked safer than other models that we have tried.

Thule Chariot Lite suspension

 

Is it safe to use?

Any trailer sold in the UK must meet certain safety standards, however, there are also some optional extras. Any bike trailer must have a safety harness. Cheaper models often have a 3 point belt with an additional lap belt. This trailer has a comfortable 5 point safety harness. This should be more comfortable for Baby M, if she falls asleep when I’m cycling.

One of the reasons that I wanted to have a trailer rather than a child seat on the back of my bike is because it features a roll cage, so in the unlikely event of the trailer turning over, the occupant would be protected. (This is in addition to wearing a helmet).

Something that can put some people off using a cycle trailer is the visibility as the trailer is quite low to the ground. For this reason, I wanted to make sure that the trailer is as noticeable as possible. It comes with an orange flag that is easily seen by car drivers and other road users. It also has reflectors on the front and back. I will be commuting in the dark at times, so will be investigating lights that are rechargeable and easy to attach. This will make me feel happier about using it in the dark. I may also add some spoke reflectors for visibility on the side.

There is also a wrist strap, which is useful when using the trailer in stroller mode (and essential if I use it as a running buggy). It is not as long as the wrist strap on my current running buggy, however, I think it is superior as it is sewn in place, rather than being secured via a knot. This means that I will not lose it.

The trailer has a sturdy foot brake. I found it very easy to use. The foot brake on my Out N About Nipper Sport has not lasted well – by the time it was 4 months old, I was having trouble with getting it to work, which is a known issue. I will be paying close attention to whether any similar issues develop with this trailer over the next few months.

Strolling with the Thule Chariot Lite

You can see the red foot brake on the right hand side of this photo

 

Protection from the elements

The trailer comes with an all-weather cover, which is important when you live in the UK! It also comes with an adjustable sunshade, which I’m really hoping that I get to try out! I’ve read suggestions that it’s possible to store the rain cover in a pocket on top, but I didn’t think it fitted well and was worried that it would fall out, so I put it in the rear pocket.

Many trailers are just shower-proof and the covers only go over part of them, but the front and top of this trailer are fully covered. The cover was a little fiddly to put on, but I am assuming that it will become easier with use and practice. I’ve seen a review where a sprinkler was been trained on various bike trailers – the Thule ones came top in terms of keeping the water out, which will be really important for me. If you’re choosing a trailer for leisure activities then if it’s raining hard, you can just cancel your ride, but as I’ll be commuting to work, I have to go whatever the weather.

Another advantage of this trailer is that it has a mesh screen which can help to keep insects and road debris out of the trailer (as well as keeping toys in!) When using the trailer as a stroller, I rolled up the mesh screen and tucked it under the flap at the top.

 

How easy to use and manoeuvrable is it?

I’ve already explained how easy it is to set up this trailer and to convert it between different activities, but how easy is it to use it in daily life? One of the frequent battles that I have with M is strapping her into her car seat, so it was essential for me that the safety harness was easy to do up and undo. It was a little fiddly to adjust it to the correct size before using the trailer for the first time, but after that, it was very easy to do up.

This trailer is one of the lightest ones available. It is lighter than the Chariot Cross, which gives it the edge when cycling uphill. This was important for me as I live in a valley, so every ride starts with a hill.

Thule Chariot Cross bike trailer

Helmets on and ready to roll!

My usual buggy is the Out’n’About Nipper Sport, which has a fixed front wheel, so I’m used to lifting it up to turn, therefore using the stroller kit on the Thule Chariot Lite seems unusual for me, as it turns very easily. For many people this is a bonus, but I think it’l take me a bit more practice!

When cycling, the trailer was barely noticeable at just over 11kg, which is exactly what I had hoped for.

At the park with the Chariot Lite

Quick conversion from trailer to stroller

The images above show the trailer attached to my cyclocross bike on a visit to the park. We were able to lock the bikes up and then quickly convert the trailer into a stroller to visit different areas of the park. The conversion took me less than five minutes and I was pleased to see that the two-hitch could be stowed on the side of the stroller (it’s the metal piece with an orange safety sticker on it).

Quality and value

This trailer feels sturdy and well-constructed. The fabric is really attractive and strong and the wheels roll well, so it’s easy to push (or pull).

The Chariot Lite can hold a child weighing up to 34kg, which is more than most British 7 year olds weigh, so how long you are able to use it for probably depends on your child’s height and willingness to be in the trailer.

Although this trailer and the conversion kits that can be purchased are expensive, I think it’s best to view it as an investment. A quick glance at eBay and other selling sites shows that previous Thule trailers hold their value well and can be resold easily as long as they have been looked after. My friend Laura has had her older model Thule Chariot for at least 3 years – it still looks immaculate and despite being used daily, she has had no technical issues.

The tyres seem tough and sturdy, but I think this is something that I won’t really be able to assess until I have used the trailer for several months and many rides. One thing that I will need to do is source some appropriate size inner tubes as I don’t know whether every cycle shop would stock them and I don’t want to find that I can’t commute because of a flat tyre.

 

My final thoughts:

I’ve used the Chariot Lite as a bike trailer and stroller frequently over the last few weeks. I was surprised by how easy it is to convert it between the two activities. It is light to push in stroller mode and changes direction very easily (perhaps a little too easily for someone who is only used to using a fixed-wheel running buggy). It is quite wide to use as a stroller, but its manoeuvrability has meant that I’ve been able to go into a number of tiny local shops and have not had a problem negotiating their aisles.

Baby M seems to have enjoyed being in the trailer. There is plenty of room for her toys to accompany her and unlike with a traditional buggy, she is less likely to lose anything that she drops. I think the position is less comfortable for her when she falls asleep in the stroller mode than with a traditional buggy as it is not possible to recline her seat. I think the seat may recline on the more expensive Chariot Cross model, which would be a point in its favour.

Snoozing in the Chariot Lite

Pros:

  • The trailer can be used for cycling or walking straight out of the box and for running or skiing if you buy a conversion kit.
  • The trailer folds up easily and is compact to transport or store.
  • The quality of this trailer is top notch. The fabric and stitching are good, it feels sturdy and yet is light.
  • The trailer is easy to assemble/use. The Thule VersaWing system makes it easy to swap between activities.
  • The trailer is rain-proof (which is essential if you’re using it for commuting, rather than leisure activities which can be postponed.)
  • This trailer has all of the safety features that I would hope for.
  • Thule trailers have a good resale value, so although the initial expenditure may seem like a lot, you can expect to recoup quite a lot if it is looked after.
  • The trailer has good suspension, which makes the ride comfortable for both parent and child.
  • Thule Click n’ Store makes for convenient on-board storage of strolling/jogging/cycling kit while changing between activities.
  • This product could be used from birth with the purchase of the newborn sling (however, this is intended for walking, not cycling – no-one recommends cycling with a young baby!)

 

Cons:

  • The RRP is £590, which is quite expensive (however, if you consider the cost of buying a buggy and bike trailer separately then it’s not so bad.)
  • If you’re using it as a buggy then you can’t see your child from behind.
  • The cargo compartment is on the outside, so your items may get wet.
  • The seat doesn’t recline or have any padding (you would need to purchase a Thule Chariot cross for these upgrades.)

 

Things to consider if choosing a Thule Chariot

  • How many children do you have/plan to have? The Thule Chariot Lite is currently only available as a single-child version in the UK.
  • If you are spending this much money, is it worth spending a few hundred more on the Chariot Cross? (This is an easier decision Stateside as the price differential isn’t so much!)

 

This trailer looks lovely, is comfortable for Baby M and is really easy to use. It is the ideal trailer for use as a daily commuter not least because it is so well waterproofed. On occasion, I would like a little more storage space, so may have to don a rucksack or use panniers. It’s disappointing that the two-child version is not available in the UK (but as a ‘one and done’ mum, that’s not a deal-breaker for me!)… I guess this may change if there is enough demand for it.

The Chariot Cross is £260 more (and £360 more for the double version). It has a number of additional features such as enhanced suspension and more cargo storage and it is more suitable for off-road adventures. I don’t do much off-road cycling, so that doesn’t worry me too much, but if it were my only running stroller, it would be important for me.

I would really like to try the jogging conversion kit, so that I can cycle to parkrun and then take part… or continue to enjoy lunchtime runs with M when I am at work. For this reason, I am considering selling the other trailers that I have to buy this extra. I think we would also benefit from having the head support so that the trailer is more comfortable for M to nap in.

Obviously, I’ve only used the trailer for a short period of time, so there may be some aspects that I’ve not explored fully yet. My friend, Laura, has been using an older Thule trailer for some time, so I asked her for her thoughts. She could not think of any drawbacks. Her trailer has been well-used and is well-loved. It is heavier than her buggy, but she finds steering it much easier, so she chooses to use it when running.

Overall, this trailer is perfect for my current needs. It should see me through cycle commuting until M is at primary school (and beyond) as well as being appropriate for short rides when she visits Grandma.

Have you used a bike trailer? What are your thoughts? Do you prefer to use a child-seat?

What now?

7 Aug

So, although I’m not feeling like things have been going well this year, I’ve now done my ‘A’ races. This year has not been the year for me to do an Ironman (not least for financial reasons), but I have managed to do a 5km (3.1 miles) swim, a 100 mile (160km) bike ride and a marathon (42.2km/26.2 miles).

Since RideLondon, I’ve been trying to get my life back in order. On Tuesday, I did a Tai Chi class; on Wednesday and Thursday, I did Buggy Mums and on Saturday, I did parkrun.

Southampton parkrun 5 Aug 17

On Sunday, I met up with my lovely friend, Inez. We went out for a really long walk around Testwood Lakes and then Inez picked me lots of fresh produce from her garden.

I’ve never tried callaloo (amaranth leaves) before, so I was interested to cook them at home. Inez showed me how to prepare them and then I cooked them with garlic, chillies, paprika and tomatoes and served them with rice and peas – delicious!

In the evening we had minted new potatoes and runner beans for dinner, followed by rhubarb crumble – all from Inez’s garden.

I don’t have much else planned for this year, so I’m planning my events for 2018. I’d like to do the Long Course Weekend and am still dreaming of doing an Ironman… but it will depend on whether M ever decides to sleep through the night. I’ll also be going back to college and will be sharing more info about that soon!

What’s your next big challenge?

Monday Morning Motivation: Julián Molina Shreds Harder Than You

24 Jul

After a collision with one of the local buses when he was younger, Julian Molina was left with a completely destroyed foot, which later became infected with gangrene, traumatically resulting in the amputation of his entire leg. Most would quit here, but not Julian.

Despite his situation, the man has only looked forward and up, and two wheels has been his vehicle in that journey. Today he’s stomping tricks he couldn’t land with two legs, and riding with a bigger heart and smile than most. This is Julian Molina’s story.

To learn more about Julian, read Meet the BMXer who lets nothing stand in his way. You can also visit his Facebook page.

First and last long ride before RideLondon

16 Jul bike close up

I deferred my place in RideLondon last year and had hoped that I would be able to train and take part this year, but things have not gone as smoothly as I had hoped.

I am unable to defer my place again, so I can either take part in the event or keep my fingers crossed that I am lucky enough to get a place again in future. I was erring towards the latter until I read about the launch of the London Classics: “The unique challenge requires participants to run the Virgin Money London Marathon, cycle 100 miles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and swim two miles at Swim Serpentine, the open water swimming festival.” I hope that one day I’ll get a place in London Marathon and am now tempted to add Swim Serpentine to my itinerary for 2018.

Today, I planned a training ride. I agreed that I would cycle out into the New Forest and do a loop via Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard before meeting my husband and in-laws at the Drift Inn.

The ride out of the city is always slow. There are lots of traffic lights and although there is a new section of cycle path, the road is abysmal in places. Finally, I made it to Eling, which is where the enjoyable part of my ride begins. However, just five minutes later, my enjoyment waned…

I cycled across a busy road and was immediately hit by a pungent smell. The road was covered in manure and I assumed that a muck spreader must have recently passed that way.

I cycled on a little further and was surprised to find the traffic at a virtual standstill. As we were not yet into the New Forest, I was not sure of the cause (roaming animals, such as horses, cows and donkeys, often cause the traffic to stop in the Forest). Cars started to turn off and I was able to see the reason for the hold up: 5 pairs of horses and gigs. The gypsies obviously did not want to get split up, so whenever the road widened or there was the possibility for some cars to pass, one of the gigs would pull out and overtake another, which was very frustrating for the queue of traffic. I really didn’t enjoy this part of my ride – the road was covered in excrement and I was stuck behind a car that was belching out hot fumes. I was surprised to see quite a few police 4x4s, so I assumed that they were aware that gig racing might be about to take place.

Finally, at Ipley Cross the gigs turned off and I was able to continue on my ride. I cycled past Beaulieu and headed towards East Boldre before cycling towards Buckler’s Hard and then back towards the Drift Inn.

As I neared the pub, I was able to see that there was an enormous gathering. There were crowds of people in the road, police wearing high-viz jackets, cars parked everywhere and on the scrubland opposite the pub were lots of horses and gigs.

I took my bike into the pub garden where my family were meeting. We had agreed that Baby M would spend some time with her grandparents whilst Stuart joined me for a couple of hours. I had a quick drink and then we were off again.

Stuart had planned a nice route that involved heading back to Beaulieu before heading out towards Exbury Gardens and Lepe beach. I’ve not cycled this way for a long time – I think it was probably back in April last year when I went for a ride with Teri. That time, the road by the beach was covered in sand – fortunately it was clear this time. I’m not particularly familiar with this route, but a lot of it is the same as Solent Half marathon, which I’ve run a couple of times, so it brough back some happy memories.

By the time Stu and I got back to the Drift Inn, the crowds had dispersed and it was as the gypsy flash mob had never been there. We’d noticed a wedding party at the pub when we were there earlier; this time we saw the happy couple having photos taken amongst the trees.

I stopped for a little while to chat with my in-laws and feed M. I also had a quick snack, before leaving to cycle home alone. As I got to Ipley Cross, I noticed some raindrops 😦 This was all the incentive I needed to pick up my pace a bit. Luckily, the rain eased off, but I tried to maintain my pace. I had hoped that I would be able to do my ride without too many hold ups, but the traffic jam earlier meant that I didn’t really have a clear idea of my average pace.

As I got towards home, I hit 110km, just before the timer hit 5 hours. I’ll need to be able to ride another 50km in a fortnight, but am hoping that determination (and a bit of drafting) will get me through.

Have you done RideLondon before? What are your tips?

Buggy Mums, parkrun, JPCC and a sundae

2 Jul Turbo session

Wednesday was a rainy day, but that didn’t stop me from going along to Buggy Mums. I knew that Christine would have planned a session that would keep us moving and I wasn’t wrong.

Unsurprisingly, we were a small group of just 7 people today, but that didn’t make it any less fun. One brave lady came along for the first time despite the weather.

We kept moving around the Common, stopping in various locations to do exercises, including squats, tricep dips and walking lunges. We also managed to run 4km.

Buggy Mums June 28

© Christine Saunders

Today’s Buggy Mums session was at a new venue: Riverside Park. I’ve run in Riverside Park lots of times, but it was nice to use a new venue for Buggy Mums as there were new options for training.

Buggy Mums Riverside 1

©Christine Saunders

Buggy Mums Riverside 2

©Christine Saunders

Buggy Mums Riverside 3

©Christine Saunders

On Friday, I went out shopping with M. I’ve been struggling with finding enough baby-free time to ride, so I thought I’d better do an hour on the turbo trainer. I have no idea whether I’ll be fit enough to tackle #ridelondon in a month, but I’m not going down without a fight!

Turbo session

Southampton parkrun was cancelled again this week (Pretty Muddy), so it was another chance for me to do some parkrun tourism. Stu and I chose to go to Whiteley parkrun and we gave our friend Rob a lift. It was Stu’s turn to run with the buggy, so I was free to go as fast or slow as I liked. Yesterday, my Garmin told me I was ‘detraining’ after a week of berating me for being ‘unproductive’, so I thought I’d better run hard! 24:22 is 42s away from my PB, but not a bad run considering my lack of training and the humidity.

detraining Whiteley parkrun

Hopefully, having put in a decent run will improve my Garmin’s comments about my training!

training data after Whiteley

On Sunday, I went on a lovely sunny ride with Julian Porter Cycling Club. We cycling from Eling tide mill out to Beaulieu before stopping for drinks – I was a bit surprised as that’s only about 7 miles.

Mettricks Beaulieu

We then headed off towards Buckler’s Hard, but didn’t do the loop that I’m used to. Instead we did a very short loop that was being used as part of a triathlon. I cheered a few people on and was able to say hello to club-mates who were manning an aid station.

We then turned towards The Drift Inn where we were to regroup with the faster riders. It was quite warm, so I appreciated a glass of coke, but was aware that really I needed to be doing more pedalling and less drinking!

When we left, Angela, a speedier rider joined us, so Lou and I picked up the pace towards Ipley Cross. At that point, Angela left us and we turned back towards Southampton.

Just a few miles from where we started, we turned a corner and Lou shouted that her chain had come off. On closer inspection, we realised that she had broken her rear mech hanger 😦 I agreed that I would cycle back to the car park, collect my car and retrieve Lou and her bike. What a disappointing end to a lovely ride for Lou.

I enjoyed this social cycle, but think I probably should have gone out on my own for a training ride as although I was out for 4.5 hours, I rode less than 30 miles :’-(

To top off a busy week, Stu and I walked to Sprinkles for an ice-cream sundae.

Stu and Sundae

What did you do this week?

Back on it – a weekly round-up

16 Jun

Hello again! I feel like I’m finally getting back on top of things, so here’s a round-up of my week…

Saturday – Volunteering at parkrun

For the second week in a row, I was a volunteer at parkrun – this time as a Run Director.

Southampton parkrun 10 June 17

Because of building works, we’re currently on an alternative route at Southampton parkrun that starts near to The Cowherds pub. I quite like Run Directing with this start as there’s a bench for me to stand on. There was also some excitement as our long-awaited PA system has now arrived, so I now longer need to rely on my teacher’s voice projection!

RDing at parkrun

That’s what 767 runners looks like © John Grant

 

Sunday – Southampton Tri Club event

On Saturday afternoon, Stu and I finished sorting out our bike trailer, so that M is able to go out cycling with us. I recently traded in my beautiful Fiat 500 for a Citroen Berlingo that we affectionately refer to as ‘the mum bus’. It’s not a beautiful car, but it’s comfortable and there’s plenty of room for bikes and more. Stu reconfigured the car to fit all of our kit in, but we learnt the hard way on saturday night that Baby M is allergic to peanuts. This meant that we didn’t manage to join Tri Club friends for a social bike ride on Sunday morning. We could have joined in with the run, but were shattered after a long night.

STC BBQ

©Darryl Marcus-Hanks

Stu took part in a sea swim, whilst I sun-bathed and played with M on the beach. We then had a lovely barbeque. Southampton Tri Club is such a friendly club and this was a great opportunity to meet some of the new members. After a few burgers, I went off for a walk by the beach huts.

Calshot beach huts

 

Monday – swimming

The Quays

I finally got myself back to the pool on Monday night. I think swimming will always be the hardest part of a triathlon for me. I prefer open water swimming, but it’s hard to get to the lake and reasonably expensive, so I need to make sure that I attend tri club sessions at the pool.

It was the first time I’ve swum since I got me new watch, so it was interesting to see what data it would show me. We did quite a few 100m sets, including some with fins. Coach Steve called me over and explained that he had identified the problem with my front crawl – apparently my stroke looks like a bear crawling along and it’s basically my strength that gets me through as my technique is awful. Steve had a new torture device swim aid that he got me to try – a Finis Forearm Fulcrum Positioner that “holds the hand, wrist and elbow to position the forearm optimally”. It definitely felt different, but I still don’t think that I can visualise what correct technique should be – it doesn’t come naturally to me!

I positioned myself at the back of the lane for the swim as I’ve not been swimming for a while, which meant that I didn’t feel too much pressure. We covered just over a mile in the session, which was enough for me!

 

Tuesday – Run with Sarah

At lunchtime I went for a run with my work colleague and friend, Sarah. It was quite warm, but we were out for nearly an hour. I had M in her buggy and that combined with the humidity and my asthma/hay fever made for a challenging run. Sarah and I kept the pace slow so that we were able to have a much-needed chat. I love running for keeping me fit, but I also love it because it really helps to keep me sane. Some people might swear by a glass of wine at the end of a hard week, for me nothing beats a chatty run with a friend 🙂

 

Wednesday – Buggy Mums and Mile of Miles

On Wednesday, I went to Buggy Mums, which is one of the highlights of my week. It was a hot and sunny day, so we did a mix of intervals and exercises in the shade. It was lovely to see some mums that I know from elsewhere (Sing and Sign and my running club). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to participate as much as I had hoped to as M wasn’t in her happiest mood and my hay fever was playing up.

On Wednesday evening, Stu, M and I walked down to the Sports centre to take part in Mile of Miles, which is a 10 x 1 mile track relay. Southampton Tri Club had two teams: a fast team and a fun team. Stu was originally on the fast team, but he’s been under the weather, so switched to the slower team. I was on leg 8 and Stu was leg 9. I did a brief warm up, but my hay fever and asthma were making breathing difficult, so I knew that I would find it hard. I also struggle to pace myself on the track and the relay format meant that I wasn’t running alongside others, which usually helps to push me.

My final time was 7:29 which is quite a lot slower than my recent PB of 7:10. I had thought about doing the Lordshill Magic Mile on Tuesday evening, but decided against it as I wanted to save my legs… however on Tuesday I was feeling well and on Wednesday I was shattered. Hopefully, I’ll feel better by the next mile event as I would love to achieve 6:59. My splits were all over the place: 1:41; 1:59; 1:55; 1:54!

Tamsyn at the track

© Di Mattingly

Tamsyn at the track

© Di Mattingly

Tamsyn at the track

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at MoM

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn on the track

© Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running on the track

©Paul A. Hammond

STC at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn at Mile of Miles

©Paul A. Hammond

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

Tamsyn running at Mile of Miles

©Lois Elliott

A rare pic of me with my baby © Paul A. Hammond

STC at Mile of Miles

Thursday – run at Weston Shore

I drove to Weston Shore early on Thursday as I was keen to be there ready for Buggy Mums. I had a bit of time to answer some emails when I arrived, before going over and chatting to friends. After a short while, one of them looked on Facebook and saw a message saying that the class had been cancelled 😦 All was not lost as one of the others agreed to go running with me. We did an out and back – one direction was easy, but the other was into a headwind. I did just over 4.5km, but couldn’t motivate myself to make up the extra distance with the wind!

Sadly, I’ve heard that there won’t be any more sessions at Weston Shore… however, they will be replaced with sessions at Riverside Park, which is a bit closer to home.

 

So that’s my round-up of this week. Southampton parkrun is cancelled tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to going to Lee on Solent parkrun. My friend, Sarah, lives nearest to that parkrun, so hopefully I’ll get to run with her. Also, I’m going to meet up with a few Hampshire-based running and tri bloggers, which should be fun. Then I’ve got some really exciting events planned for next week, including an aquathlon in a stunning setting.

What are you looking forward to next week?

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

How to deal with stinky cycling shoes

24 Mar

Spring is finally here with longer daylight and sunny days – hurray! For me, I’m hoping this means that there will be more opportunities for cycling (certainly by the end of April when my baby will be old enough to go in a bike trailer). However, I’ve just got out my neglected cycling shoes and in comparison to my shiny new bike they’re not looking great. (They’re not smelly, but they don’t look clean!) I turned to the internet for inspiration on how to make them beautiful again and was surprised by some of the answers that I got…

Low risk suggestions

  • Replace the insoles
  • Use Odor eaters
  • Use Stuffitts Shoe Savers
  • Put sneaker balls in the shoes
  • Store the shoes with detergent pods inside (be very careful if you have young children or pets!)
  • Use ODOBAN

Medium risk solutions

  • Put the shoes in the freezer overnight
  • Put your shoes out in UV light/sunlight
  • Put newspaper and baking soda in your shoes after each use
  • Spray white vinegar in your shoes
  • Put baking soda and tea tree oil in the shoes and place them in the sun
  • Spray your shoes with Lysol
  • Use sports equipment spray on your shoes
  • Put a spray top on a bottle of surgical spirit (aka rubbing alcohol) and spray inside your shoes
  • Put some drops of essential oils (like lavender or peppermint) in your shoes
  • Use dog urine odour remover
  • Put Gold Bond Foot Powder in them (not readily available in the UK)

High risk solutions (washing)

  • Scrub them and leave them to dry with some newspaper stuffed inside
  • Wash them dawn in the shower, then put newspaper and dryer sheets in them. Put them on the rack in dryer, kept running the dryer all day and changing the paper and dryer sheets.
  • Put them in a sink full of warm water and a box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) before allowing them to air dry
  • Wash them in a utility sink with baking soda and sport laundry detergent
  • Throw some hydrogen peroxide in them to kill the bacteria
  • Wash the insoles in the washing machine and let them air dry
  • Put them in a bucket of water and napisan or oxy-clean to soak, then press the fabric area and hang them to dry in the sun

Extremely high risk solutions

  • “I put mine in socks then put them in the washer with a load of towels.” and “Throw them in the washing machine and let them air dry, with insoles out and they do great!” (Does the washing machine?!)
  • Put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (for two cycles if they’re really stinky). – This was the suggestion that surprised me the most, but which also seems to be the most popular suggestion!

Photo credit: thenoodleator via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

What is your preferred method to keep your cycling shoes box fresh?

Save

Save

Save

Save

Monday Morning Motivation – How good are your bike handling skills?

27 Feb

One of the reasons why I’ve decided to take part in cyclo cross is that I really want to improve my bike handling skills. I know that I’m nervous at times, and I don’t always react to hazards as well as I could, so I admire anyone who is a really confident cyclist. However, there is one man whose cycling skills I admire above many others: Danny MacAskill. If you’ve not watched his latest video, Wee Day Out, then be prepared to be amazed and inspired:

Anyone want to go for a ride?