Triathlon training: Why I love cycling

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My Trek Lexa and I have had some fun lately She’s taken me much further than running ever could…

Cycling is scary, it’s complicated (well, for me it is because I previously hadn’t ridden a bike since 1993) and it hurts your bum. That was my previous assessment of cycling and why I got a bike and did nothing with it for a year. This year, after the marathon, I decided I needed to shake things up a bit and get out there doing other things as well as running. I dragged the boyfriend out with me as moral support and we took to the cycle path (one of the few good things about living in Bicester – sorry, Bicester village doesn’t count for locals) and then ventured out towards quieter roads in the surrounding villages. It took me a little while to get used to the gears (I think I have just cracked them now), mainly anticipating hills, getting the speed up and legs turning over, and getting in the right gear. Apart from at busy junctions where I am still really cautious (and rightly so!), the traffic hasn’t scared me as much as I thought it would.

What I love about cycling is the freedom it gives you – it can take you places much further and faster than running ever could. Yesterday I cycled to my work and back (70k, nearly 44 miles) as a test run. It was the furthest I’ve ever cycled in my life and I felt great. We stopped for a cheeky chocolate fudge cake in the local pub and headed back much faster than on the way there. Looking at the stats, we were flying along at 30k/h at one stage! When we started out yesterday I felt tired and my butt hurt at 3k – it didn’t bode well, but then I just got on and did it! I’m feeling so proud of myself today.

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I wanted to share with you some of the tips I have picked up along the way:

– Familiarise yourself with your bike before heading out – don’t do what I did here.

– Find a friend who is a reasonably confident cyclist and get them to cycle along a quiet road (or better still a cycle path) side by side with you to help you get used to the gears.

– Pick a short circular route to start with.

– Think ahead – drop it down into an ‘easy’ gear (ie, one that you can turn over quickly) when coming up to junctions, traffic, obstacles etc. That way, you can get away quicker and easier if you have to pull away from a standing start.

– If you can’t remember which gear is what, then try to logic it out. On my bike, I know that the easy gear (used on hills or at a junction) wiis the small switch (ie, easier to change), the harder gear (one you use on the flats) is harder to change (mine you have to push the break lever side ways). You don’t have to worry too much about the chain stresses as much with road bikes as they have fewer gears than mountain bikes so can readily switch among all the gears while you learn without consequence.

– If you’re in the wrong gear going up a hill, don’t sweat it – just cycle back down and start again.

– Attend a cycle maintenance course (this is next on my to-do list).

– Just go for it – don’t put it off until tomorrow, cycling is so much fun!

So this week I am putting on my clipless pedals and learning how to use them. 🙂

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I am training for the Tri For Life triathlon in September – a charity triathlon. You can sponsor me here.  I chose the tri for life triathlon as it looks perfect for beginners, it takes place in the stunning grounds of Woburn Abbey, and, as it happens, it’s organised by a small friendly team of people. It’s also a charity triathlon. It’s been ages since I’ve done anything for charity because running is something I just do it seems rude to ask for sponsorship. This, however, is a major challenge for me. I’ll be raising money for charities such as Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity, Rays of Sunshine and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

You can check out how the competition winners, Lucy and Lozza are getting on here and here.

sian

Fancy cycling in a duathlon team? Look no further…

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You see the thing is – I signed up for the Dinton Duathlon having not ridden a bike since I was 12 and I have bitten off WAY more than I can chew so I’m actually looking to now do the Duathlon as a team where I do the 5k runs (x2) and someone else does the cycling (22k).

The entry is paid for – you just need to get yourself and your bike to the race!

The Duathlon starts at 8.30am on 17th November at Dinton Pastures Country Park, RG10 0TH.

If you fancy giving it a go, please email me here: dashingdivasuk@gmail.com.

sian

Absolutely Bricking it!

So now that the Oxford half and my stonking PB are out of the way (did I mention that?), it’s back to business as usual and training for my next big thing – the Reading Dinton Duathlon.   I am a total newbie to this whole cycling thing. Even cycling in the gym is something I try and avoid so this is a big challenge for me and a big deal. I’ve been out on my bike, used my exercise bike at home and obviously do a lot of running, but how are my little old legs going to cope having to run/bike/run that’s the question?

I thought I’d test this yesterday in the first of many Brick sessions before the event. What’s a Brick session (glad you asked as I had no clue either?): Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout.

Given that my poor legs ran a half marathon on Sunday and we were only on Wednesday, I decided to do a mock up of a mini sprint duathlon and try out a 2k run (on the dreadmill) followed by a 12k cycle on the exercise bike and a 2k run outside (that’s more like it!).

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Here’s what I found out:

– Running on fresh legs is OK, but actually running on legs after the first run and the bike was lovely as my legs were nice and warmed up

– Running, biking and then running again uses a lot more energy because you’re using different muscle groups so I will probably need lots of gels on the day and energy drinks

– I STILL hate treadmills even for 2k

sian

London to Paris bike ride 2014 for Anxiety UK

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It’s been nearly 2 years since I last did a big charity event so I thought it was about time I did another one. This time it’s all about cycling. I just bought a bike so I might as well get some use out of it right?! I chose the London to Paris cycle ride as it will certainly be sufficiently challenging for me – I am the most wobbly and unconfident cyclist so this is not going to be easy for me by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be fun.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I suffer with anxiety disorder hence why I’ve chosen to support Anxiety UK. I’m hoping that doing something like this will raise awareness about it and show people that you can have a mental health disorder and still be successful, happy and healthy.

Anxiety UK help support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy.

What I would love is to gather together a team of people with twitter accounts and blogs who can help spread the word so that we can fundraise as a team, get together to train and support each other, even if virtually.

More about the event

Date: 14 to 18 May 2014

Duration: 5 days

Organisers: The fabulous Discover Adventure, a great UK company who I’ve used before, organise the trip.

Pricing: You can choose two payment routes (both require a £149 deposit): you can either choose the fundraising option where you raise all the money for the trip (£1300) or you pay for the tour yourself (£650) and raise money for the charity separately (please aim to raise at least £500).

Itinerary: More information on the itinerary can be found here.

What’s included? All accommodation is included, as well as transport (by ferry and Eurostar) and all meals during the trip (except three meals – available in full itinerary). It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.

What’s not included? It does not include personal travel insurance, three meals as specified above, transport around Paris on Day 5, a bicycle, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit.

Want to join in? So – if you would also like to join in drop me a line here dashingdivasuk@gmail.com and I’ll send you some information and a booking form. Alternatively, please feel free to book directly with Discover Adventure (they have lots of space) and let me know when you have done so.

sian

Duathlon training: Road versus mountain bike

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do about a bike for the Reading Dinton Duathlon that I’ll be taking part in in November. Do I:

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1) Spend nigh on £1000 on a brand new women’s road bike (women-specific seems to be a license to print money if you ask me!) when who knows if road cycling will even be for me? Or,

2) Trawl ebay in the vain hope that a second hand bike will come up that’s a) my size and b) less than £400 (unlikely). Or

3) Do I go ahead and spend £250 on a men’s road bike – what’s the difference apart from perhaps the seat (do men have different butts?!) and the fact that the bar is higher? I mean, logically you’d think that the bar should be lower for men! 🙂 Or

4) Do I go ahead and just use my mountain bike. I’m not looking to break any course records/in with a chance of winning anyway am I? It’s just a bit of fun right?

I purchased a new helmet last week and I’m now wondering what other bits of kit I might need. I’m thinking some gloves maybe like these ladies Madison Echelon cyclin mitts from Millet Sports?

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I’ve been on the exercise bike building up my legs daily cycling 10k/day and the running is going well, but next I’ll have to venture out on the actual bike and get some proper cycle training in! 🙂 I’m not sure if this whole cycling lark is for me in the long term, but we shall see!

sian

Sprint duathlon training

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The time has come folks – I’m taking part in a duathlon! I decided to start with a sprint duathlon first rather than running before I can walk, so to speak, and entering a full-blown triathlon (maybe next year).

The biggest hurdle I have to overcome is cycling. I’ve been doing lots of cycling on the exercise bike for the Zaggora challenge (10+k a day) so I think my legs are up to it, but it’s the cycling on an actual bike that’s going to a challenge. You see, I haven’t ridden a bike properly since about 1992! About 3 years ago I bought a lovely Ridgeback mountain bike and after about an hour of trying to get on the thing and a scary down hill it never saw the light of day, until this week. It’s now in Halfords having a service as I type.

I’m taking part in the Lexus Reading Dinton Duathlon on 17th November to give myself plenty of time to get myself a road bike and get used to this whole riding a bike malarky. I like the look of this event as 1) it’s a sprint duathlon (5k run/20 k bike/5 k run) so a nice introduction to the sport and 2) the bike section is on road and the running section is cross country.

There is the small matter now of:

Purchasing a road bike – I’m checking out ebay for this. Bikes are ideal second hand purchases. See above’s mountain bike story for an example of why. They usually get bought, used once and spend years collecting dust in garages until one day someone finds them and puts them on ebay.

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– Purchasing a decent cycle helmet – I’m thinking something like this women’s Crossfire helmet from Decathlon – £24.99.

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That should do me for now until I get used to the bike. I’m sure then I’ll need lots of other kit  once I get going – it doesn’t bare thinking about really though!

sian