I have been fit and participated in sport all my life. As a youngster I was a good all rounder and competed in swimming and athletics. I played tennis and hockey to a high standard. With adulthood came other challenges – mainly my wonderful children. I still managed to retain some fitness through the successive pregnancies. I did 2 seasons of triathlon in 1900 and 1991 after which I had my youngest child. With 4 children triathlon was on hold and I just ran and ran and ran until they were all grown up.
In 1998 I did my marathon pb of 3h 12m in Paris when I was 42.
I was lucky enough to enjoy running long distance events well into my 50’s. However, the running really began to take a toll on my ageing body and my knees were becoming very sore. I had had a brief brush with cycling when I did that couple of years of triathlon in the early 1990’s but although my old 531 Ribble racer was still around, it had gathered a lot of dust and was lucky to make it through the clear out before moving to the beach in 2010. Jason at Auto-Bitz in Bridport sorted out the old Ribble so I was able to tackle the West Dorset hills.
I soon realised that speed was not going to be my focus and I began to enjoy long rides up to 200km. I joined Audax UK in 2011. I ride some Calendar events mainly up to 200km. In addition to this I do the AAARTY challenge which just means I do a hilly ride of over 50km every month. Time flies and I have been doing this for over 5 years now! In 2018 I have also been doing the RRTY challenge which is a 200km ride every month. The Dorset weather in 2018 has been dry and sunny and this has encouraged me to extend the distance of the long rides to over 300km. I surprised myself!
In 2013 I also made a return to triathlon inspired by my 3rd daughter Kathryn who had become a very good athlete. In my late 50’s I had lost a lot of speed but I still had great endurance. I found I could do a half Ironman, or 70.3, quite easily. In 2015 Kathryn did an Ironman so I decided that was a super challenge for my 60th year. I trained really hard throughout 2015 for the September event. I completed the full Ironman successfully but it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
I was 60 at the end of 2015. In April 2016 I did the London Marathon for one last time – achieving the ‘good for age’ time – though now of course over an hour slower than my PB of 18 years earlier.
In 2016 I trained for the very challenging Exmoor 70.3 Ironman at Wimbleball Lake. I really enjoyed this one and achieved times which gave me GB age group status and a place at the World Championships.
At this point I decided enough was enough and I think I have retired from competition.
To date, I still train like a triathlete. I know I will not do another full Ironman but I occasionally think I will do another Ironman 70.3.
I am fortunate to live in a beautiful area that has challenging cycling. The countryside is great for running and the sea is at the end of the road.
My husband supports me in my endeavours and increasingly accompanies me on the bike. I also have a great bunch of friends who I swim, bike and run with.
Ageing brings its challenges. I now run a lot less than I used to as it is very harsh on my body. I am losing speed and strength but possibly gaining endurance on the bike. I love riding my bike and have had some really great rides this year: long rides on the road: exciting rides on the mountain bikes, and a lovely tour in France with my husband.
I try to swim several times a week both in the pool and in the sea. I try to keep up the important stuff that keeps the rest going – yoga, strength training in the gym and also the intention of intervals and circuit training to try to curb the loss of speed and strength.
Next up is Coast to Coast, St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay on Mountain Bikes very soon with my husband.
More adventures ahead – I’m going to be a Grandma!
Hi, I met the two of you on Day 10 at the Crinan Canal and am delighted to see that you finished the route and enjoyed it – well done! All best wishes, David (Dalkeith, Scotland)
Can I ask what may seem a foolish question? I see you’re a user of both the new (trendy) Roubaix and the old (trusty) Dawes. I’m coming back to road cycling from a clever Trek 7.7 light aluminium / carbon hybrid. I’ve just bought a Roubaix for 60 – 100 mile day trips, but I have this “long felt want” for a Dawes Ultra. Although I’m as parsimonious as any Northerner, I ‘m tempted to buy a second bike and actually try it out, in parallel to the Roubaix. But as you’ve actually had experience of both the Roubaix and the Super Galaxy, I wondered if you had any thoughts?
By Coincidence, I’ve just driven back to London today from Exeter via the Hive Cafe in Burton Bradstock, so I’m familiar with your home territory, and the next run that I’d like to try is the Round the Island, as I originally come from Hampshire.
Any thoughts / pointers gratefully received. This isn’t a techie / Geek question, really. (It’s all about me & my skills after all), but if you can iron out any misunderstandings that would be much appreciated.
I use the Roubaix for rides up to 200k in dry weather. The drive train and hubs suffer f they get very wet. The Dawes is my touring bike which I got off eBay. I am currently looking to replace it as it is too big. I will probably go steel again but with carbon forks to reduce the weight a bit. I will definitely be having the bike built to my spec to fit my body and riding style. I like the Roubaix a lot but its quite delicate and incapable of carrying any stuff. The Audax/touring bike is for much longer distances and also light touring. Horses for courses.
Hope you enjoyed Burton Beach.
I was fortunate to meet you at the exmoor beast 20/10/2013 we kept passing each other one way or another( yes im the one who grazed my knee slightly). It was a real pleasure to meet you and share dunkery beacon with you( yes me remember) hope to meet you again one day. To me that what riding sportives is about meeting great people.
All the best
I checked out the results and saw you finished the Beast on Sunday. Well done. It was certainly a challenge and I was very pleased to get back to Tiverton. I think Dunkery was the hardest hill I have ridden up. It was good to see your friendly face on the way round (it was amazing how man times we passed) and as you say that it is one of the great things about Sportives. I hope your ‘graze’ recovers .
You should check out Audax if you like long distance cycling. The events are slightly different in that you have to be self sufficient on navigation but you do get a similar camaraderie. (and there is often cake involved)
I hope our paths will cross in the future.
Thanks for showing me the route from Weymouth to Abbotsbury. You were spot on about the route up to Hardy’s monument although you did underplay the nasty kick near the top. I was the 1st rider back to Wareham which was a real surprise, especially as I covered an extra 13km somehow. Have a great cycling summer and I will hopefully see you at the Isle of Wight / New Forest 200km audax in Sept. You have certainly inspired me to up my “ride distance” horizons.
Congratulations on being first man home yesterday. Definitely time to step up your distance! It was grerat to have your company yesterday from Weymouth to Abbotsbury. I hope you managed to hang in OK on the Portesham Hill – as I said, once you see the roof of the building you are close to the top. When I got back to Wareham at about 1800 there were still lots of 100km riders finishing. After I left you Abbotsbury Hill is the start of the hardest section of the ride. There is a nice lunch break in Axminster before two more proper hills. The last 45km are much easier. I completed in 10hours 8 minutes which is pretty good for me over 207km. I have September 7th in the diary so hopefully I’ll see you at Lymington ready to catch the ferry to the Isle of Wight.
Have a good summers riding. Barbara
Hello Barbara. Am so glad to have stumbled across your blog, very motivating. This Saturday I’m embarking on my first ever Audax, the Thames Valley 200k and wondered how many women the wrong side of 50 out there do them! Normally I do routes/sportives/Gran Fondos up to 100-occasionally 160k and love climbing. But, along with my husband, we are keen to stretch the distance and learn to pace ourselves over longer. I will be on my Specialized Ruby, the most comfortable bike I have. A bit daunting having never cycled this far, but I have to try!
Good luck Beverley. I am sure you will be fine. Just break the 200km down into manageable chunks and I’m sure you’ll have a great day. Audax rides are much more relaxed and friendly that other events which have an element of competitiveness. Women are always in the minority on Audax rides and there are generally not many youngsters. I hope this is the first of many Audax rides.
I’m a 51 year old marathoner who knows it’s time to branch out and move on. I have a great bike and have done a few tris. You are inspiring me!
We women all need to inspire each other. I’m hoping my daughters will be inspired to have some babies soon then I can join you in being a Grandma. Meanwhile keep on running – and swimming – and cycling. Get started onto some yoga classes. Just do stuff and keep on doing it.
Thoroughly enjoyed your Tour du Mont Blanc posts. As keen walkers we have been thinking/planning this for months and might have a chance to go in a couple of weeks – early Sept 2018. Did you arrange all the accommodation bookings yourself direct with the owners? Any tips on accommodation eg. If we request a smaller room at a refuge what are the chances of getting one? Can you speak French?
We arranged the accommodation booking with the huts directly . There is online booking for most places. http://www.autourdumontblanc.com/en/index.cfm/tmb-huts-accomodation.html There is plenty of accomodation in the towns – like Courmayer – as this is essentially a quiet time of year for them. I dont know about special requests but the huts are very busy. We speak a little French but mostly used English. Be prepared for cold wet and windy weather and hope you are pleasantly suprised and the sun shines for you. I hope you have a great time.
Thanks very much. If we manage to get everything organised then we’ll go for it.