Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

I am a lifetime endurance athlete and seem to still have the motivation now that I am 61 years of age to get out there and be active and adventurous. I completed a full ironman distance triathlon in 14 hours a couple of months before my 60th birthday and the London Marathon 12 minutes inside the Good For Age time in April 2016. In June 2016 I won my age group at the Exmoor 70.3 Ironman event. Since then I have become less interested in competing and more interested in having fun. Running has become increasingly difficult and not so much fun so I am doing less of that. However, I still ride my bike at least 300 kilometres in a 'normal' week and swim, gym , yoga etc to keep up my fitness and health . Mountain biking became a new feature of my life in 2016 and with that came a new cycling buddy. A wonderful suprise - my husband! This has changed what we do with our time together and in June 2017 we enjoyed a tour of the west coast of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides together. Audax riding is still a regular feature and in June 2017 I completed 4 years of AAARTY.

Sea Swimming

Most people in the UK will have been in the sea at some time in their lives. Many will have kept their feet firmly on the ground and exercised great caution – instinctively knowing that they are putting their lives in danger by getting in any further. Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death for children in the UK. More than 400 people accidentally drown in the UK every year.

In 2013 fatalities at the sea, on the beach or shoreline accounted for nearly a third (115) of all UK deaths by drowning. A further 22 deaths happened at harbours, docks, marinas and inland or coastal ports.

It’s a very big sea. A dangerous environment that you cannot control

It’s a very big sea. A dangerous environment that you cannot control

‘There’s little to compare with the thrill of a stormy sea swim, diving and forging through teetering waves before bouncing in the swell behind the break.’ (Kate Rew – Wild Swim)

I have been swimming in the sea most of my life. I gained life guarding qualifications as a young adult. In the mid 1970’s – when we had those really amazing heat waves– I worked my summers as a beach lifeguard.
Continue reading

Advertisements

Another New Bike

Rule #12
The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

This new bike was necessary to be able to ride with my husband in his new activity of Mountain Biking. Careful observation of Rule 12 justifies another new bike in the interests of marital harmony.

I had sold my first road bike, a Specialized Roubaix Elite SL2 2011 road bike as it was superseded by my Specialized Roubaix Comp Disc SL4 2016 – the black bike. To keep the numbers up, a new bike was necessary.

The new bike – Giant Anthem 27.5 1

The new bike – Giant Anthem 27.5 1

Ian bought himself a Marin Mount Vision C-XM8. This is a full carbon, full suspension mountain bike. Admittedly – a high spec for a beginner – but he needs all the help he can get. It’s blue.

Building the Marin

Building the Marin

My new bike is also blue but it is made out of aluminium but also has full suspension. It is a Giant Anthem 27.5 1. So not quite such a high spec but I also need plenty of help in acquiring new off road riding skills.

Our pristine new bikes looking very clean and shiny

Our pristine new bikes looking very clean and shiny

We have been riding together 3 or 4 times a week (when we are at home) and having a lot of fun. We are lucky to live in West Dorset with such beautiful scenery all around us.

Great views from local trails

Great views from local trails

Chesil Beach shingle is a challenge

Chesil Beach shingle is a challenge

We have been to Haldon Forest Park three times to build up our skills in a more controlled environment. We are getting better on the blue trails – but red is still a challenge.

Haldon Farest Park Skills Area

Haldon Forest Park Skills Area

Haldon Forest Park

Haldon Forest Park

Bridport Cycles have a MTB ride every Wednesday and we have been joining in with that to get to know our local trails better and pick up top tips from the experts.

Riding our new bikes with Bridport Cycling Club

Riding our new bikes with Bridport Cycling Club

I am really enjoying this new way of riding. I am still getting out on my road bike just as much. But – something has to go – I am running much less.

Swimming around Brownsea Island

GPS track of our swim

GPS track of our swim

Brownsea Island is spectacularly located in Poole Harbour. It is the largest of Poole Harbour’s islands and has been owned by the National Trust since 1963.

There is evidence of settlement, pottery production, agriculture and trade in the area since the 5th century BC. It has been a hideout for pirates and a gentleman’s estate. In 1907 the first Scouts came to camp on Brownsea and in 1963 a permanent 50 acre camp was opened by Olave Baden-Powell.

With regards to swimming around the island there is a large event organised by Poole RLSS which takes place in September. Entries for this event are booked up very quickly when they open in February.

A group of us swim regularly in the Bridport area and we decided to organise our own swim around Brownsea Island. We did a bit of tidal guesswork and Ian came along in his sea kayak to keep us safe and to carry the food and drink which would help us keep going for an estimated 3 hours in the water.

Ready to swim at the Castle slipway

Ready to swim at the Castle slipway

We met at Sandbanks and caught the yellow Brownsea Island Ferry.

On the ferry to the island

Waiting for the ferry to the island

Ian met us at the Island close to the Castle. We changed into wetsuits and loaded all our gear into the hatches in the kayak.

At the start

At the start – nutrition on the kayak deck

The essential jelly babies and isotonic drinks were kept on deck for easy access during the swim.

Loading supplies into the hatches

Loading supplies into the hatches

As we swam away from the Castle at Brownsea Island we had a strong push from the flooding tide and for a few hundred metres we flew along.

Swimming with the tide behind us was very fast

Swimming with the tide behind us was very fast

This was to be short lived unfortunately and for the next 2 kilometres up to Pottery pier it was quite a hard swim which became harder as we got closer to the top of the island. The wind increased and it got choppy and then there was more boat traffic so we got wash.

Approaching Pottery pier

Approaching Pottery pier

Once round the other side of the Island things calmed down quite a lot and we had wind and waves behind us. We still didn’t get much tidal assistance but it was a lot more fun. There was the added bonus that this side of the island is shallow with little boat traffic so we could stop and stand up to get our food and drinks from the kayak.

Our land support team member, Jane, swam out to meet us.

Jane swam out to join us

Jane swam out to join us

Navigation was easy with land on the left all the way and after just under 3 hours we found ourselves back at our starting point.

Another great adventure.

More recently. October 2011 to October 2012. (1).

In the Autumn of 2011 I carried on riding.  I rode from home to Bude on my own one day. A hilly 92 miles.  I still rode on my own a lot but increasingly went out with Steve.  Steve is a very experienced cyclist and he gently passed on top tips and encouragement giving me more confidence.  With him I started tackling bigger hills.  Getting out of Lyme Regis was a turning point.  I started to believe that I could climb hills. Eggardon became a part of most rides now – though I still avoided the coast road and the dreaded Abbotsbury Hill.

During the winter of 2011/2012 my Roubaix was stripped down – thoroughly cleaned and put in the loft and out came the old Ribble.  Surprise surprise – the Ribble could go up hills too. It wasn’t as comfy or as fun but I was riding it much better. December found me success on Portesham Hill – almost as steep and as long as Abbotsbury.  Steve said I could get up anything now!!!

Through the winter of 2011/2012 I continued to ride around the local hilly roads in West Dorset.  I also went to spinning classes at Bridport Leisure Centre through the winter.   In the early part of 2012 I didn’t ride very much and it wasn’t until April 2012 when I brought the Specialised Roubaix down from the loft that I began to ride regularly again.  I diary note from this time records that 21 miles felt like a very long way.

At the end of April I had a notable a ride on a 72 miles circuit around North Somerset with two friend of Steve, Derek and Ted.  Ted was on a Dawes Super Galaxy as he was preparing for  a tour across the Pyrenees.  It was a cold wet day and the pace was slow due to Teds weighty bike and also due to multiple punctures.  More lessons learned.

I changed my tyres to Continental Gatorskin and from 23mm to 25mm.  These tyres have proved to be very puncture resistant and the extra 2mm does not seem to make any difference to my speed.

At the end of May I rode 108 miles in a day.  There is an annual ride organised by Dorset Air Ambulance from Watchet to West Bay.  To solve the problem of getting to Watchet in the first place I decided to ride both ways.  It was quite a chilly windy day.

Finishing the Dorset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast ride 20/5/2012

Finishing the Dorset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast ride 20/5/2012

The ride up to Watchet early in the morning on my own was not as much fun as the ride back in company with the other cyclists and at times benefiting from drafting behind groups of large men.   A few days after this ride Steve coaxed me up the dreaded Abbotsbury hill.  A big tick in the box for me.  Its not that its amazingly steep – only 17% – its just a long hill with the steepest part towards the top.  A month later in June 2012 I was up it again – without Steve holding my hand.

Around this time I found a deserving home for the old Ribble racer. The partner of one of my daughters is a very good runner but had reached a stage in his life, at the grand old age of 21, when 100 mile weeks were starting to take their toll and he was thinking about cross training.  Here you are Steve – (another Steve) – have my old bike – that will get you started.

So for a winter bike I decided that I needed something that I could also tour on.  Ted – who was on the North Somerset ride– had recently returned from crossing the Pyrenees and he had a Dawes Super Galaxy.  This seemed like a suitable way to go and I found a Dawes Galaxy on ebay for £150.  It was well used and very filthy.  Crucially, husband – though not interested in riding – was becoming interested in bikes as machines and this turned into a bit of a project for him. With quite a lot of TLC the Green Galaxy became my winter bike and also a machine I could plan to touring on.

Our good friends Dave and Kelly have done some very long tours.  Their most recent – before baby Iris put in an appearance was from Argentinia to Mexico..  http://www.cyclingnomads.com/index.htm.  I talked to them about their bikes and their gear.  The Galaxy had straight bars which were new t me but after talking to Dave I decided to get some Ergon grips and try the straight bars.  Although the choice of riding position is limited I have found the straight bars to be quite comfortable.  I also followed their advice on Ortileb panniers and a front box.

Towards the end of the summer of 2012 my weekly distances were increasing.  I went on some notable rides.  The first was 80 miles on the South Somerset Way with Steve.The second was a 72 miles tour around the Isle of Wight with Steve Ted and Derek.. The third was a ride from home to Burgh Island in the South Hams of Devon – I enjoyed this solo 82 mile one way journey a lot.

At the end of August Steve and I were out on the Specialised and got caught out in heavy rain with flash floods.  I comment in my diary that it is good that Steve is as mad as me.  The day after we were out again this time in sunshine and my back hub started making very strange noises.  We limped home to discover that the ball bearings had corroded and the adjustable race was badly pitted and scored.  This was a revelation to me.  I had no idea that there were parts of a new (ish) bike that would disintegrate and need replacing.

The Specialized was repaired and thoroughly serviced in the next couple of days by husband just in time for me to participate in my first Sportive.  The Moor 2 Sea event started at Haldon racecourse near Exeter.  The route was 66 hilly miles across Dartmoor and back along the South Devon Coast.  I rode well and enjoyed the day.  I was starting to learn what suited my body in terms of food and hydration on long events and realising that getting this right was very important to enjoying longer rides.

The bike and the buddy

Comfort was a priority in choosing my new bike. Low gears for the local hills tempered with fast and light.  I was quickly drawn to the  Specialized Roubaix Compact road bike – named after the grueling Paris-Roubaix race.

I knew that triathlon was not really going to interest me and neither did road racing. I love going on journeys so the criteria of comfort on long rides was the priority and the Roubaix seemed to meet my needs, at a reasonable price.  Having decided in principle my mind was made up on July 9th 2011 when an extra 20% off was offered during Le Tour and together with last years colour I got a deal I was happy with. 105 pedals and a ladies saddle completed the dream machine.

The man in the shop said it would feel like cheating when I got on a hill as it would be effortless. He was wrong.  There was no difference.  I was so disappointed. The reality was that hill climbing ability was down to me – not the bike.  A note from the diary says I had hoped it would be easy and pain free.  It was not.  I was beginning to wish I had gone for that granny cog.

I was still doing all my cycling alone.  The nearest group to ride with is the CTC in Dorchester and it seemed daft to drive for 15 miles to go for a bike ride  and as my time is my own I could ride whenever I wanted to .  I was usually doing my other sitting down sport on Sundays – kayaking on the sea.

In August 2011 – a few weeks after getting my new bike – an old running friend posted on Facebook that he was doing a 100 mile ride round Dorset.  Wow! I wanted to do that.  Can I come Les?  This was such a big deal for me.  Husband followed us round in the van and carried limitless supplies of isotonic drinks, malt loaf, sandwiches and cake.  Les did comment that he had just planned to go to the pub for lunch but I just couldn’t imagine attempting 100 miles without support. That was my first proper cycling adventure.  105 miles – Not bad.  Quite enjoyed it.

The summer continued – running, swimming, sailing, kayaking and weekly mileage on my bike building. On 15th August 2011 I was out in the Bride Valley only a few miles from home one evening . My GPS was playing up and I had stopped to see if I could sort it out. Unusually – along came another road cyclist – he stopped to check that I was OK .  He was also riding a Specialized Roubaix – what a coincidence.  We set off up the valley together and by the end of the ride  we had covered the important bits of life history and realised we rode at about the same pace.   I had a cycling buddy. Steve.

History

Coming to the more recent past. Cycling began in November 2010.

Claire put the idea into my head by suggesting Lands End – John O’ Groats was a plan for 2011. The bike was brought out from the shed, dusted off, greased up and off I went. I remembered how to clip in and didn’t fall off – but it was so uncomfortable – and very hard work. One big disadvantage of living at sea level is that all roads go upwards – especially in West Dorset.

I am from the North East and before moving South I was not alone in imagining that the terrain south of the Pennines was flat – no hills.  Wrong – West Dorset is very hilly. Not your long drawn out gentle inclines – but long steep stuff – plenty of 20% to choose from down here. So the racing geometry and the high gearing of the old Ribble, that was suitable for the 30 year old racing me needed to be changed.  As I mentioned – I’m from the North – so splashing out on a new bike was not for me! So I took it to the local bike shop and had a new drive train put on as low as the frame would take, and the handlebars raised as far as they would go so my riding position was less radical.
Continue reading