Category Archives: cycling

A Hot, Sweaty Triathlete – A Tricurious Post

You can also see this post over at And while you’re there check out the other great blogs from the Tricurious team, who are tricurious no more!

I am like sooo organised. I’ve packed my stuff. I’ve packed the kids’ stuff. I’ve taken an instagram picture of my kit. I’ve tweeted it. I’ve blogged about it. I have found baby oil. I have researched tube trains that allow bikes. I’ve even put my numbers on my bike and helmet so I don’t have to fiddle around in the morning. I am just tooo organised for my own good. 

Yes I indeed had thought about all the little details that I might need. Until I got to my parents house and realised that when I had put my number stickers on my bike and helmet I had left the envelope containing my bib number and security bracelet in my hallway back in South Wales.

Sweat poured over me as I read the competitor information.


The cold sweat poured down my back as I silently panicked while trying to sort the kids out for bed. What a stupid rookie error. Stupid, stupid, stupid. They were bound to turn me away at the DLR for such an idiotic mistake.

Turns out I wasn’t getting out of it that easily.

On arrival at the ExCel after the sweatiest of tube rides I spoke to a very nice lady at the Help Centre who wrote out a spare number and gave me a spare security number. The sweat that had been pouring off me in panic at forgetting my number now started to drip off me in the realisation that this, my first Olympic Distance triathlon, was about to happen.

Meeting Laura, Katie, Anita and Cathy in the Media Room at the ExCel really put me at ease. The sweat receded from a skin tsunami to a gentle creek. The balcony leading out from the Media Room gave us a great view. The sun was high in the sky, the Royal Victoria Docks were still and glistening and the occasional roar of the planes flying into London City Airport right over the top of the swim waves made me realise that my first open water triathlon was happening in a very special place.

I was incredibly lucky to be here and I started to get the first pangs of ‘bring it on’ rather than ‘help, get me out of here’. From our elevated position on the balcony we were able to cheer and we were able to cheer Becca, the first Tricurious athlete, off in her swim wave.


Before I knew it, the time was 11.30. My race was due to start at 12.20 and there was still the job of getting a wet suit on in a humid room surrounded by other people who seemed to have assistants doing that for them. It was brilliant to laugh about baby oil, chat trisuits with Cathy and Laura and hear about the amazing cake that Katie had made for afterwards. I realised that this is what I often miss about the races that I do. I usually go to the start on my own, all up in my head with my own thoughts feeling like I want to vomit. But on Saturday there were no vomitous feelings. The presence of like minded souls, chatting and laughing helped keep me at ease. The sweat though continued to pour off me so I sipped more water before heading down to the swim assembly.

The Swim – Keep Your Eyes On The Pig

Last week I was terrified about open water swimming. But out of no where on Saturday came a new determination. I even jumped into the docks instead of inching myself in gradually. The ‘bring it on’ attitude had really come to the surface probably accompanied by a bit of ‘get this bit out the way’.

The swim course was well marked out with plenty of buoys. I made sure I kept my eyes on the larger read ones at either end. I also decided to keep my eye out for the giant floating pig. If I was going past the pig on either side then I knew I was well round on either lap.


I had made myself stay back and over to the sides of the wave but not long after the hooter went off I found myself almost swimming over people doing breast stroke. Oh shit, I’ve gone off too fast I thought, but my arms felt good and my chest didn’t feel too strained. So I went with that rhythm, chanting the drum beat in my head. As I rounded the final buoy I realised that people were veering off to the left. I was about to swim past the pontoon! So I changed course and managed to swim between some ladies (sorry) and staggered up the red, floating carpet to get ready for wet suit removal.


But I didn’t and once a nice man helped me with my wet suit bag I trotted as best I could to my bike. Can I add that carrying a water logged wet suit in tired swimming arms for about 150 odd meters is not easy!

The Bike – Fecking Hilly Bridge

I love my bike, I’m good at riding. I’m from Wales, we have really big hills so I’m like awesome at climbs.

Well if I thought that before I have basically had my arse handed to me by 4 laps of London slip roads and dual carriageways. I found the bike course hard. It was really, really hot. I had stuffed a Welsh cake in my mouth which immediately dried up my entire face and also made me feel like I was covered in sticky crumbs.

Once I was out on the course I regretted putting on my cycling tee over my tri suit as the heat just felt like it was ready to melt me. My legs felt a bit slow and heavy but as I hadn’t been on my bike since my crash a few weeks ago I reasoned that my legs just weren’t in bike mode.

On the first lap I really hit the bridge with all my effort. Only the bridge had one hill, shortly followed by another hill, followed by a sharp turn which put you back on the bridge with the hill. There was then a fairly flat out and back section. And then it was back to the hilly bridge. Looking back I went out far too hard on the first lap and really paid for it for the following three laps. I did not enjoy the bike section but I knew it was a means to an end. Head down and keep going.

Into transition and someone told me to zip my cycle tee up. And then tried to tell me the reasons why I needed to zip my top up. I zipped up my top, they continued talking at me but after realising I was looking at them a bit blankly they waved me on into the transition zone.

As I came off my bike I thought my legs felt okay. This was my body giving me false information. I’ve decided the human body sometimes lies to you to make you keep going.

The Run – Hot. So so hot.

When I ran out of the transition area I saw my parents standing with my two boys. My heart lifted and I ran over to give the boys a kiss.

‘Keep going, don’t stop’, bellowed my Dad. Ooh flashback to about 20 years ago at a club cross country I thought to myself as I ran down the ramp.

A ramp. A fairly steep ramp that we would have to run back up four times. Lovely.

The run was a funny one. It was hideous but also a bit wonderful. Agony and ecstasy all at the same time. Every lap ticked off was a lap closer to achieving my goal. But I really suffered in the heat. My golden visor did a good job of shielding my face but I couldn’t keep the sweat out of my eyes. My legs felt like they were dragging along the floor so I’m not entirely surprised that I tripped, fell and barrel rolled in a section which seemed to be the most dense with spectators.


What really keep me going during the laps was that from time to time I would see Cathy, Laura and Katie. We’d wave to each other and high five each other. In fact I don’t think I would have finished the run without their support.

When I looked around I noticed how everyone seemed to be struggling in the heat but everyone was taking the time to cheer someone else or give someone a supportive hug. By the end of this run we would all be triathletes, a title that some of us thought impossible even this morning.

Laura caught up with me and gave me an incentive to power myself up the ramp for the last time. As we ran into the lane towards the finish Laura nodded to a girl in front and said ‘you think we can take her?’. That was all the encouragement I needed and from somewhere the legs found a final sprint. As the announcer called our names we raised my arms into the air. I had done it. I was a triathlete. I real life one.

And After….

I found my family just outside the finishing area. The kids went to hug me and then sprang back. I was a triathlete but apparently far too smelly, hot and sweaty for them to hug. My parents took pictures but decided to take the kids home out of the hustle and bustle. Spectating is a bit boring for kids.


Once I’d found my fellow Tricurious team members again we made our way out to the run course to cheer on Will and all the other runners. This part of the day really filled me with warm and fuzzy feelings. We screamed out for people with names on their vests. We cheered those with distinctive running outfits or just generally supported those who looked like they might be struggling. It really felt like we were part of the bigger picture by helping other competitors on to their triathlon goal (even though some might have looked like they wanted to punch us).

As I boarded the District Line to go home I realised that I probably looked a mess, stank of dock water and at risk of nodding off. My medal hung around my neck and I sat on the stuffy, airless train focussing on all the good that had happened that day. Laura and Katie did an amazing thing with Team Tricurious and I’m a little sad that it’s over. They have been nothing but encouraging and the support from the other Team Tricurious members has been immense. It was so good to be able to meet them and hug them. We can now say that we are triathletes, whether we leave it at Saturday’s event or choose to go on and do more triathlons at whatever distance.

As some people rose to get off the train at Embankment a woman, speaking loud enough for me to hear nodded towards me and then said to her friend ‘Always has to be one show off hasn’t there’.

I could have got narked off and given her a filthy look. But instead I thought to myself, yes, yes I am showing off and I have every right to show off. And I am not alone. If you go East you’ll find plenty more of us show offs, because today we are all triathletes.


The Wisdom of Farmers.

I hadn’t been able to do much over the weekend. Youngest had been ill so most of the time had been spent cleaning up vomit. I didn’t feel able to get out and leave him while he was unwell. So yesterday afternoon came my chance to get out. Although when I had the chance to go the rain was hammering down.

Now I am usually a total fair weather rider. A bit of damp and I would rather run, swim or stay at home. But I decided the time had come for me to head out in the rain. After all I would be sopping wet when I jumped on the bike during the London Triathlon. So really I would just be replicating the conditions of the event. It was also fairly mild so I knew I wouldn’t get cold either. My plan was to ride for roughly 90 minutes and follow that up with a run.

I headed out and was soaked through immediately. I considered going home as it really was hammering down but ‘NO!’ I thought to myself. It is the tough sessions that make you better. I was mindful of the road surfaces and as I made my way through country lanes I was careful on the down hills.

As I relaxed slightly on another downhill I came face to face with a tractor with a front loader. I jumped, braked and my wheels skidded. As I headed for the tractor I decided that I didn’t feel like taking on a huge metal object with spikes in front of it. In a split second I opted for the second worst option: the hedgerow.

I had expected just to hit the hedge and fall sideways. But instead I flipped over and somersaulted. Everything went black as I felt my neck and my back whip round. And then I was on the floor with my bike beside me. I sat up and looked down. Everything seemed okay but for a moment I thought I saw white on my shin. ‘Bone?!!’ was the next though that flashed through my mind. The farmer who had been on the tractor was standing over me trying to get me up and I mumbled something about a broken leg. Ridiculous looking back now but I really went into shock.

I felt the blood draining away from my head. The farmer insisted I would feel better if I stood up but I kept pulling myself back down to the floor. Every time he pulled me back up I pushed myself back down again, not wanting to pass out standing up. I knew he meant well but I knew where I would feel safer.

After a while I managed to get up and the farmer, who was called Phil, helped me onto the tractor where I sat beside his Welsh Collie Meggy. Phil placed my bike on his front loader and after a phone call to my husband he insisted on driving me all the way home.

As we weaved through the back lanes of the local villages Phil and I chatted. I bemoaned how daft I was and how stupid I had been for going out in the first place.

‘Shit happens Kath’, was his reply, ‘there’s nothing you could do about it. Bikes get fixed, people not so easily’.

And he was right. I have a tendency to over analyse and judge myself for my decisions when things go wrong. But Phil as right. I couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen and it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was literally just ‘one of those things’. Yes I was sore and had a bruised ego but I was relatively unscathed. I needed to focus on that and be thankful rather than going over ‘what ifs’.

As we made our way through Pontyclun High Street it must have looked a sight. My bike hanging off the front loader of a tractor. He insisted on taking me all the way to my front door even though I told him to drop me by the high street and I would walk. I couldn’t thank him enough. He had been in the middle of doing his work when I had met him round the corner and I had probably added hours to his day. But again he said ‘Shit happens’.


My body is fine although it is bruised and a bit sore today. My ego is fine because really I had done nothing untoward, I had just been cycling in a modest manner. My bike seems fine and that’s good too. Sometimes shit does happen and you just have to pick yourself up and carry on. Or get a farmer to give you a lift home. I might give myself a rest day today though. Think I deserve it.

Bricking It

In all sports we have to practice the elements that make up our chosen sport. Turns out practicing swimming, cycling and running isn’t enough. Specificity principles of training mean that we need to practice everything that occurs during an event s that the right adaptations can occur. And it occurred to me that even though I have been training in the three triathlon sports I haven’t actually practiced the bike to run transition. With my first novice triathlon this Sunday I really needed to know what was going to feel like when I swapped my cleats for trainers.

Yesterday I did my first brick session. I got out early on the hottest day of the year and cycled 11.6 miles. Instead of pacing myself my legs seemed to whizz round my route and when I checked later I discovered I had taken 3 minutes off the time it takes me to do that route usually. Where were those legs for Velothon? I had meant to make it a conservative effort as I was mindful that I wasn’t going to be finished after the cycle. But I felt good so I just went with it, accepting that I would probably make the running bit more difficult.

After my cycle I did my own version of transition. Unclip, helmet off, check phone, text message from school, shit are the kids alright, oh it’s just about lost property, no need to panic, sip of water, change into trainers, ugh do I really want to do this?

Yes. Yes I do.

Off I went on a loop that I knew was somewhere between 3 and 4km. The sensation in my legs was like nothing I had felt before. My legs were moving because my brain was telling them to and yet they didn’t feel like they were my legs. I felt a bit like I had been sawn in half. I felt a bit numb below the waist. Or now that I’m thinking about it I am reminded of my legs coming back to life after having a spinal block when I was in hospital having my kids. I realised that instead of battling the sensations I had to go with them and be guided by them. Worrying about form was out the window as was being concerned about pace. The priority was to keep moving even though parts of my brain were screaming at me ‘ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND’. I then thought about people who ride 112 miles on their bikes immediately followed by a marathon and decided they are definitely a bit unhinged but then that probably helps a bit. After all, it’s just physical discomfort isn’t it? I’m not bleeding, I’m not in agony. My limbs aren’t falling off. It just feels a bit weird.

As I ran I contemplated why it is called a brick session. Is it to do with building the bricks and foundations of triathlon? Is it to do with principles of training and specificity? Is it a term coined by sports scientists? I looked it up and apparently it is named after a New Zealand multi-sport champion called Matt Brick, which makes sense. I have another suggestion. Brick sessions are so called because once you start running your legs feel like they’ve been battered by a bag of bricks. True story. Next time I will be doing this will be in my first triathlon, the Pencoed Novice Triathlon on Sunday. Fingers crossed my legs remember what to do!

Triathlon Dreams and Anxiety Sharks.

With the Velothon out of the way I have focused my efforts back on triathlon training. Cycling wise, after riding 140km one day, I think I’m okay with the bike element. Running I feel generally at peace with. What I feel I have neglected is swimming. So in efforts to try and make my weakest discipline a little bit more bearable I have been hitting the pool as often as I can.

I won’t lie, I am a little bit anxious about swimming and with my first novice triathlon coming up this Sunday I find myself getting a bit jittery. So much so that I have had odd dreams. One such dream involved the cycle stint of the 17km course on Sunday. In this dream I finish the out and back course to be told that I need to do it again. And again. And again. Now I know nerves are usually helpful but this dream was a bit unsettling and made me feel unprepared.

It’s weird that my dream was about the cycle section because it’s swimming that I get most worried about. And I think I’ve now made it ‘a thing’. Whenever I start swimming my arms feel like lead weights. It takes me ages to warm up into it. Then I get cross with myself because I find myself needing to stop at the end of the length. The swim at the weekend is 16 lengths and in the pool I’ve been trying to make myself swim for 16 lengths at a time without the need to break occasionally. I haven’t fared so well and so my anxiousness about it gets worse. I am my own anxiety shark.

I’ve been reading a little bit more about anxiety lately and in a weird way I’ve started to understand and accept elements of my personality. On social media you often see these articles ’10 things you didn’t know about ‘insert subject here’ and I happened to come across one about anxiety. As I share the feelings that I’ve had about swimming I recognise them as being irrational and maybe a bit daft but that is an anxiety trait. Many of my anxiety triggers are irrational and right now swimming seems to be one. I think the reason is that I feel out of control with swimming whereas with running, and to some extent cycling now, I feel very much in control. When that control goes I start to panic and the irrational thoughts begin along with a lot of sentences beginning with ‘I can’t’.

But when I beat off those irrational feelings with practical thoughts: ‘it’s okay to break, it’s okay to breath every stroke, it’s okay to not be brilliant at this’, I start to enjoy swimming, my body relaxes into it and I begin to enjoy it again.

The article I link to above does mention many negative aspects about anxiety but it also mentions aspects that may in fact be positive. Could anxiety make me more productive? And is it a survival mechanism that makes me more empathetic, more driven and aware of everything around me? Do my anxiety traits make me more determined to achieve my training goals? And is it my anxiety traits that push me and drive me forward? I have no idea if that could be true but if it puts a positive spin on the hyperventilating, the nausea, tingling hands and the crushing feeling in my chest then I’m all for that. It actually makes me feel better that there could be a positive outcome to those feelings.

After sharing so many largely negative thoughts about swimming I have to say I am looking forward to my first novice triathlon this weekend. I’m curious to see how I get on with transitions and to see how a triathlon event works. I’m also excited to be supporting a local event with the triathlon being held at a local swimming pool by Aim 2 Tri events.

I’m aware that the distances this weekend are way off what I need to achieve for London Triathlon for Team Tricurious but it will give me a small taster of what triathlon is all about. And maybe after this weekend those traits that I mentioned above will give me a little bit more drive to complete my first Olympic Distance triathlon in August.

Velothon Aftermath

On Sunday I was on an incredible high after my epic 87 mile cycle. As a family we went for dinner as soon as I had finished and I didn’t care that I was sat in my sweaty cycling kit among Sunday afternoon diners. Well done messages poured in from friends and family and quite frankly I felt amazing. Once we got home I had a steaming hot bath, stretched out on the sofa for a while and then went to bed, imagining the pain I would probably be in once morning came.

On Monday morning I woke and I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t in as much discomfort as I thought I would be. The main issue I had was that my eye was painful. During the ride a fly decided to hit me straight in the eye ball. My eye was red and puffy but I reasoned that if that was my only issue I was basically okay.

Monday was a total rest day. But then Tuesday also became a rest day. And so did Wednesday. I did a short walk/run with Polly the pup yesterday. Today i could go out for a social ride with the Flyers. But I’m not going to. It’s not because physically I feel awful but mentally I just feel drained. My brain has been on shut down. Head most definitely in the shed. This week I have felt a bit forgetful, distracted and unable to fully focus. My husband would probably say that’s normal but I have felt a difference in my concentration levels.

I’ve never been on the move for the length of time that I was on Sunday. I fueled well and I was sensible throughout the entire ride. But I underestimated the mental toll that it would take on me. I cycled alone for around seven hours, concentrating the entire time on the technical course. I don’t think I ever really put in that amount of mental effort when I’m running. The result being that even though physically I’m unscathed, emotionally I feel hung, drawn and quartered.

I have my first triathlon, a novice event, next month and even though I probably could have made it for a swim or a gentle run/cycle this week I have prioritised rest and recovery. I have resisted the compulsion to train this week, instead enjoying gentle, mindful walks with the boys and our puppy and making sure I am eating well. And I honestly think it has been for the best, not just for my body but for my mind too. This week is now designated a rest week so that next week I’m ready to focus on the next challenge: the London Triathlon in August.

Recovering hard.

Recovering hard.

Velothon Wales 2015

Yesterday I completed what is probably my toughest personal challenge to date: Velothon Wales. This event gave cyclists the chance to take on routes that professional cyclists take on and indeed yesterday there were pro teams competing. It was a 140km course taking in several South Wales counties: Newport, Gwent, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Cardiff.

This is my take on how it went yesterday. It’s a bit long and I wouldn’t say it’s a race report because I certainly didn’t race it. Instead it is a collection of my thoughts and feelings about the day.

A dodgy start

The first part of the route took us through a fairly industrial part of Cardiff and out through some pretty countryside towards Newport. It was flat and not very challenging. But for some reason my legs felt like they were on a permanent incline. I wondered if I had eaten enough breakfast. I wondered if nearly three weeks without a bike had effected me. Were my legs too heavy with running? Teams of incredibly fast cyclists went past me over on the right and my confidence took a nose dive. I started to feel like an imposter. Who did I think I was taking on this challenge? People were flying past me and I started to feel more and more intimidated. I kept telling myself that I was going to be out for hours and hours so there was no point in pushing the pace early on, I needed to save myself for the later stages.

Then as we cycled through Newport and the bland dual carriage ways I started to feel very bored and lonely. Most of the long rides I have been on before have been with groups of people. It’s always been social and friendly. There was nothing social or friendly about this. And everything was grey. My mind was swirling the drain into negativity and was on the verge of falling into the plug hole of ‘drop out’. I have never had negative thoughts strike me so early in anything else I’ve done before.

‘You’re a runner. Why are you even here? You’re not a cyclist. You’r going to come last. You’re going to get pulled over by the marshalls for being too slow. Pull over and wait for the sweeper van’.

The negative thoughts were relentless. The scenery and my mind were murky grey. But then the landscape started to become greener and the route started to undulate. Turns out hills wake my legs up and I started to feel slightly better. Everything became far more interesting and I started to focus on the inclines and the Monmouthshire back drop rather than other cyclists. My mind filled back up with positivity and I started to enjoy myself a little bit.


As we cycled up another steep incline in Monmouthshire I could see that people were walking. It was a narrow road and I assumed there had been an accident. As I unclipped the call rippled back like a wave along the tide of cyclists.


Before the event there had been rumours that a lot of the course would be sabotaged with tacks and drawing pins. I really didn’t believe people would do such a thing until I saw the evidence on the tarmac yesterday. As soon as the call came back through the crowd and echoed back down the hill hundreds of cyclists dismounted, lifted their bikes and walked the rest of the way up the hill. Unfortunately I think some of the cyclists in front had been affected and there were men and women off to the side trying to repair the damage done.

I don’t understand why someone would go to the bother of driving the course and chucking drawing pins out their car windows. And for what? To damage the tyres of cyclists doing something rather amazing. Well, these individuals failed if they were hoping they would hurt the 15,000 cyclists on the course. The solidarity of cyclists shined through and fortunately that hill was the only evidence of sabotage on the course that I experienced.

I didn’t take the short cut

When the competitor information came through it advised cyclists that if any of the competitors on the 140km course were struggling, then they had the option to divert at 67km at a place called Little Mill. There was also a cut off point, that if you weren’t at Little Mill by 12.30 you would automatically be diverted off to take the 67km route. This had weighed heavily on my mind and I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it. In fact I think this effected my sleep quite badly the night before and it was on my mind throughout the first half of my ride.

As I rode through Monmouthshire I started ticking off the distance markers: 40km, 55km, 60km. I was going to make it before the cut off!

When we turned right at Little Mill I noticed a van and a marshall surrounded by cyclists. The marshall was giving directions for the shorter route. I noticed that some of those about to take the shorter route had gone past me many miles before. I let myself have a little cheer. For the first time in the race I actually felt good about things and I had no intention of turning off. I was nearly half way. I wanted to do the 140km. I wanted to get to The Tumble.

The Tumble

Unfortunately my hill training had been virtually non-existent. The loss of my bike for nearly three weeks meant my intended hill cycles didn’t happen. I was in no way ready for anything long and steep. But at the bottom of infamous Tumble I put my stubborn pants on and decided to have a go.

For miles and miles through Monmouthshire I had been wondering to myself ‘Where is this bloody Tumble then?’. I had never seen it but plenty of friends and cyclists had an opinion on it. I even heard cyclists talking about it among themselves as we cycled along. Local cyclists were regaling visiting cyclists with tales about the climb ahead of us.

‘I’ve done it a few times but never when I’ve had nearly 80km of riding in my legs’, I heard one guy say. ‘You’ve never done the Tumble?’ another said with disbelief as he then made a sucking in noise through his teeth followed by a sinister chuckle.

To give you an idea about what I’m fussing about the Tumble in the Brecon Beacons National Park is a 6km climb over a 10% gradient. The Tour of Britain web site even refers to it as one of the UK’s most feared climbs. I did know this before I attempted it yesterday and yet actually doing it is something else all together.

As I said I started it. I was so determined to have a good crack at it. I had come this far and I wanted to give it my best effort. I made the first corner and although my thighs were on fire I didn’t feel too bad. I found myself cycling past people which boosted my confidence. I would come out of the seat for a while, pumping my legs and then sit down to try and get some semblance of recovery (ha!). I turned the next corner and kept going. But then it all started to go wrong. Sweat was pouring into my eyes. My base layer which I had been so glad of earlier felt like it was melting me from the inside out. More and more cyclists were stopping in front of me and dismounting which meant some of my effort meant slowing, changing direction and then moving back in for the more competent cyclists. The narrow road started to feel even narrower and I started to feel dizzy and wobbly. My head felt like it was on fire and my chest felt like it was about to explode. I tried to change down a again and realised there was no where left to go. So rather than fall into the hedge or another cyclist and hold everyone up, I unclipped and got off my bike.

At first I felt ashamed and disappointed. I was cross with myself that I hadn’t got further up. But as I looked up ahead and down below I knew that I wasn’t the only one suffering. I started to push my bike, staying well over to the left, watching in awe as many other riders continued pedalling their legs off up this ‘mountain’. My calves burned as I pushed up the incline and I wondered if it would actually be just as easy to get back on. I pulled over to the side by the gate of a house where a farmer was watching us all with great amusement.



‘I’ll get the trailer out and give some of you a lift up there’ he shouted and I wondered how many of us would have taken him on. I drank some water, stripped off my base layer and wiped the sweat and salt out of my eyes which were stinging. As I carried on, pushing my bike I took a chance to take in the surroundings. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful views I have ever set eyes on. A small scattering of supporters appeared at the side and I realised they had made the effort to hike up the Tumble to cheer on the cyclists.

When we reached the summit I don’t think I have been as happy to see a feed station in my life. Welsh cakes, bananas and water were all taken on board. I put my base layer back on as it was windy and I was now cold again.


Many cyclists seemed to be on their phones talking to loved ones or trying to track down team members. Many sat round Keeper’s Pond having a well deserved rest. I popped my husband a quick text ‘think I’ll be done in about three hours or so‘, hopped back on my bike and made my way down the other side of the Tumble. I may have walked most of it but in hindsight it was probably for the best or I would have needed to be scraped off the floor by the sweeper van.


I never get bored when I’m running. I know lots of people say running bores them but it’s never bored me. I do get bored when I cycle though. And I got especially bored on one section of the course through Torfaen and Gwent yesterday. The boredom seems to happen on long flat roads that are surrounded by lots of concrete. One road on the way to Caerphilly seemed never ending. Was this cycling purgatory?

The numbers of cyclists had thinned out a bit and I started to wish more people were around me. It also didn’t help that support was sparse or non-existent on some parts and that I was on my own. I had no one to banter with. No one to cheer on and equally to boost me when I got low. But after digging in a bit again I knew we were nearing Caerphilly Mountain which was the last tough climb before the end.

Caerphilly Mountain

In my favour can I say that I did attempt this climb in the same way that I tried to attempt the Tumble. I had watched a video of Dani King ascend this climb on a London Boris Bike. The fact that she managed that on a heavy bike with no gears is nothing short of incredible. However in my defence, she didn’t have 70 miles of riding in her legs before doing it.

It is no surprise that I pushed my bike up it. In fact I think most people around me were doing the same. There was some giggling and chatter among the cyclists as we all commiserated with each other and then reassured each other that we were near the end. At the top of the climb there was a feed station. I could have stopped and refuelled but I was roughly 8 miles off finishing. I did some maths in my head about how long it would take, threw my leg over, clipped in and descended the Mountain.

Cow Bells

Coming back through Lisvane and Llanishen in Cardiff was wonderful. Amazingly my legs seemed to zoom over the roads and I felt a much needed second wind. People were out on the pavements with barbeques, drinks, massive banners and signs. Cow bells rang everywhere and cries of ‘you’re nearly there’ came at me from either side. I think the sound of cow bells is now one of my favourite things, especially when you know you’re near the finish of the hardest 80 plus miles of your life.

The last 500m were suddenly upon us. The crowds seemed sparse again along the finish but with the staggered nature of finish times and the road closures it’s not surprising. I could have felt underwhelmed at the lack of fanfare at the finish but I don’t think I cared. I had finished, I had picked up the medal. I just wanted to see my family. It had been a long day.



I’m not a natural cyclist and I’m still very much a novice. I am I think a natural runner so this challenge took me way out of my comfort zone. To have completed it, to have at least tried the two tough climbs and to have made the whole distance makes me very proud of myself and what I have achieved. It was tougher than any running event I have done and it was mentally very draining. The fact that I didn’t stop other than at feed stations has actually revealed to me how tough I can be if I just believe in myself.

I think I underestimated the ‘take the pro-road’ element. There were some very serious riders out there yesterday. I was concerned that cyclists like me were an annoyance to the teams that were flying through and almost clipping me at speed ALL THE WAY OVER ON THE LEFT. But I was incredibly lucky in that I had no real incidents: no punctures, no chain issues, no falls. I am relatively unscathed other than a pair of stiff hips and a creaky shoulder from sitting hunched over for 7 hours 17 minutes.

I am never in the habit of checking the routes of running races, if there are hills I am confident in my ability to run up them. If I did an event like this again I would scrutinise the route a bit more and do way more hill training.

Finally, I did it. I cycled 140 km of brutal but mostly beautiful roads. It was a mixture of agony and ecstasy the entire time I was out there. 7 hours of nearly every emotion I could muster on what was literally at times a rollercoaster. If you love cycling and you love a huge challenge, physical and mental, then this event could be for you. I have never said never again after a marathon. I did yesterday. But last night an email popped into my message box:

Pre-registration for Velothon Wales 2016 is now live…..


Thank you to everyone from Velothon Wales for making it a great day.

P.S If you like my cycling jersey it’s from Chapeau!

P.P.S Thank you to the guys at Ride Bike Wales for getting my replacement bike ready in time for yesterday’s antics.

Two Wheeled Tantrum

I have been sat at the computer looking through the Velothon Wales information, having an absolute paddy. It’s bad enough that I haven’t been able to ride for the last two weeks but I’m now concerned that my legs won’t make it to one of the check points in enough time.

I’m starting at 8.40 in Cardiff. Riders have to make it to a place called Little Mill by 12.30. Little Mill is 67km out. If you haven’t made it there by the set time you get turned onto a shorter route. It is assumed that if you haven’t made it, it’s because you haven’t kept up with the 19km/hr minimum required speed.

I have been sat doing some maths. I’ve been checking my Strava rides and what my average speed is. I’ve been doing sums on the calculator, converting kilometers to miles and back again. I had hoped that I would be starting earlier but by putting me at 8.40am I feel like I’m at a massive disadvantage. And so I’ve had a bit of a tantrum. I don’t want to be beaten by the pacer car. I don’t want the marshalls to have to tell me to take the shorter route and I really don’t want to be taken back to Cardiff on the sweeper bus, I want to make it back on my bike. Broken no doubt, but on my bike.

I should also mention the bad dream I had about the Tumble in Abergavenny. In my dream I am cycling up the Tumble but never quite reaching the top of the summit. It was a never ending climb. I woke up in a bit of a sweat.

My preparation over the last two weeks has been awful. I haven’t been on my turbo or my old bike. I’ve been running and swimming. Monday I met a friend and did a new kettlebell class. I would never have tried a new class in the lead up to a marathon and yet the week before my first big sportive I choose to do something that daft. My sore legs are reminding me what an idiot I am.

Right now I am so out of my comfort zone it’s not even funny. I need to woman the f*** up and get in touch with my tougher, stubborn, inner marathoner. I will finish the 140km. I will get up the Tumble and Caerphilly Mountain. I will stay in front of the pacer car. And most of all I will enjoy the ride and the experience. First of all I need to sort the small matter of picking up my bike and then I can look forward to Sunday.