Tag Archives: cycling

A Nice Day Out

11 May

It occurred to me today that I have 5 weeks until my triathlon. I had to take a moment after writing that to stop hyper-ventilating. When I started training over 6 months ago, the triathlon was ages away, training had started, everything was sweet, I had plenty of time. With a triathlon there are 3 disciplines to train in. Add one fun runner who has never learnt front crawl and lacks confidence on a bike and it soon becomes apparent that there’s a LOT of training involved. Although I’m not going to set the athletic world alive, I’ve managed to keep it up with varying degrees of enthusiasm from week to week and now I’m fitter and might just make it through the swim. Drowning would be a bit of a bummer as the swim is the first bit of the race so making it through alive is the aim of the game.


So in April, Manchester Triathlon club ran a Novice Day for similar fools to go through all the things we needed to know to compete in our first triathlon. It was fantastic, there was a really wide range of people, some were members I had met at training sessions, most weren’t but it was a diverse group. The morning session was in the pool at Moss Side. We had to grade ourselves so the fastest went first and the trainers could put us in the right ability group. I knew I was at the back, I’m sure I mumbled something about just learning front crawl as I shuffled to the back of the queue. Then we had to swim 300m, one after the other without stopping. I was terrified but I did it! I didn’t drown. That was the warm up. Another hour of improving technique, learning how to spot so you can swim in the right direction in open water, how to swim around a buoy in a group and getting used to feet in your face, we were ready for the bikes.

Our MTC trainer, Tony took us through various facts and rules of triathlon whilst we had a snack and then it was onto our bikes. We started doing bike checks, maintenance and safety information that you need to know if you are competing. Then we were taught the dismount and mount. Tony made it look so easy as he sailed past the group comfortably on his bike, waving his right leg high behind the seat and bringing it round in a sweeping movement to the floor, where with timed precision and ease he was suddenly jogging gently to the left of his bike. Our turn. Now I was a bit embarrassed to be seen on my bike. It’s a nice bike but I’m not a great rider …yet. I really struggled. The mount was even harder, some of the lads were jumping on their bikes at a run yet I just had a fear and couldn’t trust my balance to get it right. We were put in groups of 4 and set to run to our bikes as if we had just completed our swim and were out of wet-suits ready to go. I had a minor panic attack at this point because I suddenly pictured myself doing a triathlon and realised what that actually meant. I was in the last group so got the chance to see what putting confident bike riders in a hint of race conditions does to ability. Everyone was trying to remember to get their helmets on before touching their bike, not to mount before the line, all racing against everyone else. People were careering off in the wrong direction, others were in the wrong gear, the most confident rider put the wrong foot on the pedal, it was carnage. At this point I decided I was going to have a nice day out and was not going to injure myself trying to be fancy – a tactic I plan for the race. If you messed up, it definitely cost you more time. When we had lunch Tony shared this video with us of the Women’s T1 World Championship race in Hyde Park in 2011. They definitely made us feel better about our abilities. I love it.


Finally we did some running. I was dreading this. As an ex-smoker but occasional fun runner I am a slow runner and some of these people were serious runners. They hadn’t got up hungover, one Olympic morning, lit a fag and thought you know what I want to do, I want to do a triathlon. To hell that I can’t swim properly or that I am a bit wobbly on a bike and don’t like going too fast, I can run a bit for charity occasionally, when I’m not having a cheeky pint and a fag. No they were “I’ve run a marathon or 2, what next?” So again I shuffle to the back and off we go counting our steps. I don’t know why and I just run at my usual pace, ignoring the gazelles ahead of me and a couple of slow folk behind me. When Nick gives us the number we should have to indicate a good running cadence, a couple of the gazelles were too low, shame. I was bang on the number with 45. I was so chuffed. In some small way I felt like I had beaten the gazelles even though they ran at twice my pace. I actually shouted yes out loud, wondering why I’d turned into Napoleon Dynamite and slightly embarrassed that at 42 I still have that school geeky joy in being right in class.


I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like

24 Feb

As I lose one friend in training to the joys of pregnancy I did manage to catch up with my good friend Denise and we cycled out into the Cheshire countryside on a sunny Sunday morning. I explained to Denise that I was still getting used to my clipless (or clip-in) pedals. Just after I finished telling her how I had fallen off the first time I had used them, I then gave her an unplanned repeat performance. If you want to get an idea how this happens watch this clip on Youtube.

I got my bike at Christmas, it is my first new bike ever aged 42. It is shiny and purple and I like to touch it gently as I walk past it in the hall. My first bike in the seventies was a second hand Raleigh bike. It had had a recent paint job, a nice turquoise gloss paint job. I had wanted a Chopper because they oozed cool, but I loved it because it was mine and it came with a bell, cue

The first time I got on my new road bike and clipped myself into the pedals I was terrified about falling over but once I had disappeared behind a parked car to the hysterics of my other half, I was ready to take on roads and traffic. Now if like me you have never been on a new modern road bike, the first thing that strikes you is how fast they are. I was whizzing up the road with such little effort I thought I was Liz Armitstead. It felt amazing, I highly recommend it to anyone else having a midlife crisis. It’s cheaper than a Porsche and the bruises heal.

On my ride out into the countryside with Denise, we had a nice easy flat course and perfect weather. In my head I imagined myself tackling Snake Pass in the summer. I have a very fertile imagination. I gained in confidence with my clipless pedals and after 26 miles I thought I had finally got it. In triathlon training as in life, pride comes before a fall. I fell again and grazed my ankle. At this point I wonder if I’ll actually make it to race day.

Chorlton Water Park2