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

Competition: Fancy a tri with tri for life?

After the marathon, I was so cheesed off with running, but it never occurred to me to consider a triathlon for 2 reasons: 1) I used to be a really good swimmer – that’s my thing, but over the years I’ve lost my technique and confidence and 2) I have the cycling skills of a 5-year-old.

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After a lesson with Olympic swimmer Adam Whitehead in April at the Swim Tour in Oxford (places are still available for Southampton, Stockport, Belfast and Surrey if you fancy being trained by Olympians), I realised that with a few very minor tweaks, some new kit (hand paddles and a snorkel, which allows you to focus on technique without worrying about breathing), and some new-found confidence, my swimming is actually pretty damn solid. This made me realise that if I could JUST get over my fears about cycling (falling off, hurting myself, looking like an idiot and getting run over, etc.) maybe, just maybe, I could have a go at a triathlon.

So, over the last few weeks, I’ve dragged by over-developed thigh muscles out on the bike and do you know what, I’ve become mildly obsessed with it. I’m now frantically checking the weather forecast and calculating the hours of daylight left to see if I can get a cheeky bike ride in of an evening. Years of chronic overstriking and huge quads have given me an innate ability to cycle. I knew my chunky thighs would come in useful for something! I’m still getting to grips with the gears, but I’m sure that will come in time. I’m not going for any world speed records after all.

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You know what’s coming right? Yes that’s right folks – I have signed up for my first triathlon on 7th September. 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.

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I’m doing the short distance (which is long enough frankly) –

  • 400m swim
  • 20k cycle
  • 5k run

My goals are simple:

  1. Have fun
  2. Try not to look like too much of an idiot
  3. Not fall off the bike

You can follow my training over the next few weeks through my training updates, plans and Q&As.

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Competition time!

Fancy having a go yourself at your first triathlon? The lovely people at tri for life have very kindly given me two free spots to give away to two very, very lucky people.

How to enter

  • To enter, all you need to do is blog about why you want to do your first triathlon or why you love triathlons (linking to dashing-divas.com and triforlife.co.uk in your post).
  • Or, tweet the following: ‘I want to win a place on @triforlifeuk triathlon with @dashing_divasuk http://tinyurl.com/ndxfqt8’

T&Cs

  • Qualifying posts must link back to dashing-divas.com and triforlife.co.uk.
  • Winners must agree to blog/tweet about their training (linking to dashing-divas.com and triforlife.com and @triforlifeuk and @dashing_divasuk, respectvely).
  • Winners must also pledge to raise a minimum of £200 for tri for life – it’s for charidee people!
  • Winners will be chosen at random on Friday 13th June at 8pm UK time.

Good luck everyone! x

sian