Cycling

Updated December 2016

1st July 2012 was the first time that I rode my bike for many years.

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My “iron horse” was a man’s mountain bike that I had had since I was about 14 years old (I donated it to someone in need in December 2013). It was one of the heaviest bikes that I have ever encountered and was a little ‘tired’. My garden shed was broken into and my husband’s bike was stolen about 8 years ago. My neighbours also lost bikes, but mine was dumped less than 100m from my house. How insulting!!! It wasn’t even considered to be worth stealing! I didn’t feel the same way, so I packed it off to live with my in-laws for 4 years until we got a new shed. On 1st July I got the bike doctors at Skyride to lube the chain and adjust the seat height and then I spent a fun day cycling around town and eating Thai food (it coincided with a Thai food festival).

At that time, I was commuting over 70 miles every day, which was taking up two hours of my life and although I love my car (a Fiat 500) I thought about how amazing it would be if I lived within cycling distance of my job. There was nothing wrong with the job I had, but I didn’t want to move to Poole/Bournemouth so when I saw a similar post advertised at University of Southampton, I applied immediately. I didn’t expect to get the job, but on 1st September I started working a 5.5km commute from my house.

Fiat 500

I joined cyclescheme and now log my bike miles every day. I have a beautiful Giant Escape City (hybrid) that is much lighter than my old bike and designed to fit a fairly small woman. It is loaded with beautiful panniers, so it’s more ‘lady about town’.

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New panniers

In summer 2013, I decided that it was time to buy a road bike, so that I could start preparing myself properly for triathlons… and also to give me a better chance of keeping up with my cycling friends. I researched various bikes and went to see a local bike fitter Garth Kruger of Vankru. I happened to see an advert for Vankru in 220 Triathlon magazine and noticed that Garth’s studio wasn’t too far from where I live – at that time, I had no idea, just how amazing he is at his job. He’s one of the best qualified people in the UK and he regularly works with some of the best cyclists in the world, but he’s also happy to work with complete novices like me. I’ve recommended him to all of my friends and I know they speak highly of him. Anyway, after seeing Garth, I narrowed down my options to two bikes: a Focus Cayo Evo and a Kuota Kharma Evo. In the end, it came down to the Kuota, which became my pride and joy:

I love my beautiful bike!

I loved my beautiful bike!

The sales people in Primera were so convinced that I would buy my bike that it already had my name on it when I got there to view it!

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I did my first 50 mile bike ride (the Garmin Sharp Ride Out) in September 2013, and did my longest ever bike ride with Embrace Sports in November 2013. In January 2014, I started training with a turbo trainer for the first time.

Unfortunately, I had a painful accident whilst cycling in the Pyrenees in May 2014, which made me very nervous about descending… however, I was able to make steady progress up hill, so I managed to cycle up Col D’Aspin, which was a proud moment.

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in April 2015, Stuart and I spent a couple of weeks cycling across Japan with a friend. We chased the cherry blossoms across the Japanese Alps and had a great time. Dismantling our bikes to take them onto trains was a bit of a hassle, but it taught me a bit about how bikes work!

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In September 2015, I accompanied a group of cyclists on a charity ride, YMCA Tour de Y, from Lake Windermere to London. It was a completely awesome experience that included my first ride that was over 100 miles.

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I intend to work on my speed, confidence, bike handling skills and basic bike maintenance. I’ve already spoken to the totally amazing Bike Guy to find out more about bike maintenance, so watch this space!

In August 2016, my bikes were stolen, which was devastating. My work bike was recovered and my Kuota was found in Poland, but it was not possible for it to be returned. I have now purchased a Giant TCX SLR cyclocross bike, so hope to take part in some cyclocross events in 2017. I also hope that I’ll be able to replace my road bike, but have been too busy having a baby and upping my home’s security to do that yet!

Want to see my other cycling related posts? https://fatgirltoironman.wordpress.com/category/cycling/

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4 Responses to “Cycling”

  1. Quan 01/04/2014 at 5:39 am #

    Even though they’re not aerodynamic… I LOVE the saddle bags on your original bike!!

    • tamsynsmith 04/04/2014 at 6:59 pm #

      Thank you – I transferred them to my Giant Escape as soon as I had that. I’ve used them daily for 18 months, but they have needed a bit or repair work as I don’t think they were designed for carrying a laptop, lunch bag, sports kit, yoga mat, bike tools, locks and lots of other kit! They’re by a Dutch brand called Basil: http://www.basil.nl/gb/assortment/

      • Quan 05/04/2014 at 4:33 am #

        Ohhhh! Thanks for the link!

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