Category Archives: Cycling

MTB

In June my husband, Ian, suddenly decided that he would like to try mountain biking. I think he just got a bit fed up with being left behind while I was out cycling, yet didn’t fancy doing the long miles on tarmac. I love riding my bike so I assumed that I would also love mountain biking – especially with him.

We hired bikes from our local cycle shop, Bridport Cycles, and went out on a Bridport Cycling Club mountain bike ride.

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Nice wide flat trail with a good firm surface.

Our first club ride was for beginners and although we found it quite difficult and tiring we did enjoy it.

We then went off to our nearest trail centre at Haldon. Again we hired bikes and cycled around the green trail which was very pleasant. Then we tried the light blue trail – more interesting but manageable. We then tried the dark blue trail. Too interesting. I found the steep, stony descents really frightening and couldn’t stay on the bike. There was no point in looking at the red trail, that was way beyond our skill level. We did have a play in the skills park and although I avoided all the drops and stony paved areas, I did think that I had improved.

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Haldon Skills Park

We took advice from a couple of experienced MTB riders at BCC and Ian, being an impulsive sort of guy, just found a couple of good deals online and we bought a full suspension bike each.

The shiny new bikes were both blue and we were very pleased to be out riding in the beautiful countryside in West Dorset where we live.

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First outing on the new bikes

We found routes that were not very technical but managed to find some mud even in the dry summer.

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Mud!

Riding the MTB was really good fun after the serious stuff of the Exmoor 70.3 ironman in the summer. The sole reason for riding the MTB was to have fun.

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Having fun in the sun!

We enjoyed some lovely rides in the summer. We are fortunate to live in a very scenic area close to the sea. Scenic also means there are plenty of hills, of course.

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Scenic Dorset

We returned to Haldon quite regularly and gradually improved. Ian improved more quickly and was much braver on drops and stony descents. We no longer bothered with the green and light blue and were able to ride around the dark blue more quickly.

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Starting the red run.

We ventured onto the red trail. Ian could ride about 50% of it and I couldn’t really manage much of it at all. However I kept trying and pushed my limits in the skills park. We have returned to Haldon regularly and each time there is significant improvement. We can now enjoy riding the red trails. Some intensive sessions on the regulated trails at Haldon have really helped improve our skills and confidence. The next step is to travel to a different trail centre and frighten ourselves there!

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Pushing my limits in the Haldon skills park

Back in West Dorset we became more adventurous and challenged ourselves on more technical routes. At this stage, some of the time I was not having much fun.

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More technical routes

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Making progress on more technical routes

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The Colmers Shute Strava segment! (Ian doesn’t do Strava!)

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Sometimes it was a bit too challenging for me.

We continued to go out on BCC Club rides. Club rides tend to be challenging and hilly but take in some beautiful coastal scenery.

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On Eype Down – Golden Cap the next challenge on the horizon.

We took the bikes with us on a visit to the Gower Peninsular in Wales and found some good routes and had some fun times again.

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Gower Peninsular. Getting up there was a grunt but we had the best fun on the descent.

As the weather changed and the trails became wetter and muddier we faced new challenges. In the summer I would worry about the smallest patches of mud and puddles and really hated the back wheel squirming. I soon had to get used to puddles and lots of mud as well as wearing lots of gear in the cold, wet weather. We even venture out in the dark occasionally which adds another dimension to our riding. Often hilarious.

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Darkness is falling.

I’m pleased to say that I have improved a lot over the last few months and I am enjoying the MTB riding much more. I am much more confident on steep stony descents and am able to ‘stay on my bike’ most of the time. It’s still really hard work and very strenuous –especially with all the mud and puddles, but we usually have a lot of fun on our rides and it’s great that we can enjoy cycling together.

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Muddy winter riding

We are planning some cycling trips away this year as my focus moves away from competing in triathlon back to cycling just for the sheer enjoyment of being out on my bike. I love riding my bike – but riding my bike with my best buddy alongside me is the best!

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.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) is a registered charity to provide relief from sickness and injury to the people of Dorset and Somerset by provision of an Air Ambulance. There is no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and they rely totally on the generosity of the public to run the service.

The service was launched in 2000, and since then over 11,000 missions have been flown. The helicopter can be at any point in Somerset or Dorset from its airbase at Henstridge in less than 20 minutes and then at any one of the major trauma centres in the South West within a further 20 minutes.

Operational costs exceed £2 million a year with each with mission costing £2,500.
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AAARTY 36 Months

There are many challenges to be tempted by when riding Audax. However, a lot of them involve riding for a very long way and for a very long time. At present I do not find it fun to be out for more than about 12 hours, so I am limited to 200km rides or less.

I have found that one challenge I can maintain and use to keep up my cycling motivation is AAARTY. (Audax Altitude Award Round The Year). This involves riding a minimum of 50km with at least 750m of elevation every month. I have ridden a hilly ride every month since June 2013 so this was my 36th consecutive month!

Occasionally I will ride a hilly Calendar Event like the Dorset Coast 200km in April 2016 which attracted 2.75 AAA points with a total climb of 2850 metres. But usually I ride a 100km DIY with over 1500m of elevation. Living in the West of West Dorset it is not difficult to plan hilly enough rides from my back yard.

For Audax DIY planning purposes Burton Bradstock to Shillingstone is a very convenient 51km with 1015m of elevation. The return trip makes for a very neat 102km with only the one intermediary control necessary. Perfect.

The second week in May the weather warmed up nicely and I set off to meet my cycling buddy Jo ready for a hilly 100km.

Setting out from home

Setting out from home – nice jersey!

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The Dartmoor Devil

The Dartmoor Devil is a 111km bicycle ride which reaches parts of Dartmoor other events do not reach. It is organised by CTC Devon. The event is an Audax ‘gold grimpeur’ Calendar Event. This means that the ride is worth 2 AAA points.

Finishers badge

Finishers badge

The Dartmoor Devil 2015 is ‘the 23rd Thrash’ and took place on Sunday 25th October. Unexpectedly for the time of year, the weather was dry, warm(ish), sunny with light winds. Most undevil like.
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Another Bike

Another bike. A black one. Specialized Roubaix Comp Disc 2016

Whilst I became familiar with Rule #5 early in my cycling career I have also followed Rule #12.

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.

I have 3 bikes. A road bike, a touring bike and a mountain bike. My road bike is a Specialized Roubaix Elite SL2 2011 road bike.

The 2011 Roubaix

The 2011 Roubaix in ironman action.

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Recovery

The moment of finishing the ironman is the culmination of a years training. That was my main goal for the year and our lives had been geared up to achieve that goal.

So what’s next? The perceived wisdom seems to be that six weeks rest are in order before a return to gentle training. Well that was never going to happen!

In order to avoid post ironman depression syndrome (PIDS – yes really!) I had a few things lined up in advance so the coming months in the diary were not empty!

The first week after the ironman I rested – apart from some gentle pool swimming. I was very hungry and despite being tired I had to get up at about 03.30 to make porridge and toast as my rumbling tummy was keeping me awake.

The second week was spent in the Lake District on a planned holiday. Time to reconnect with my family and my inner – non-triathlete. Hill walking wasn’t a problem and we enjoyed some long walks in the hills around Keswick.DSCF1421

Walking in the Lakes

Walking in the Lakes

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