Cycling in circles, a trip to the Velodrome

Cycling in circles, a trip to the Velodrome

Thinking about the Olympics and trying to channel my inner Laura Kenny as we made our way through the beautiful Olympic park towards the velodrome at Lee Valley.

Walking inside the flying saucer-shaped building and up into the café gave a sense of the size of the velodrome, it was bigger than I expected! After a quick cup of tea it was time to get changed and make my way to the famous ‘track centre’. Walking down the corridor where so many inspirational people had walked was incredible I loved watching the Olympics in 2012 and now to be here where the magic had happened felt like a real treat.

Coming up into track centre really gave the sense of the scale of the velodrome standing in the middle I felt very small and the corners looked almost vertical! I was soon ready to ride picking up my bike, in the purest form, no gears, no brakes just the power in my legs to control my destiny, whether that was to be flying off or staying up right, at this point who knew!

After a talk through the safety points of not being able to stop pedalling and using pressure to slow or speed up the bike we were allowed on the dark blue ‘safety zone’  this was the inner circle of the track and was flat. After a successful lap and a cheeky extra lap as I couldn’t stop we were allowed on the Côte d’azur a light blue 17 degree angled part of the track once we were riding around our instructor pushed as to go faster and faster, it was odd thinking of speed as safety instead of the other way round. The other odd thing was that you didn’t really have to steer the bike, the angle of the track and your speed turned the bike, no need to lean on the corners. The hardest part was remembering that to slow down you had to put resistance on the pedals to slow your cadence this took some practise but I felt happy with it and was ready to move onto the track!

Staying on the black line I worked up my speed and confidence before venturing out towards the blue line. The corners of the track were a 45 degree angle and to ride higher you needed more power, getting up to speed in the short straits was hard but after a few laps I made it above the blue line, the bike clung to the wooden slats of the track as we spun round and round, it was hot work staying high up and navigating the other people also having their taster session.

It was soon time to leave the track, another challenge of slowing down and grabbing the railings! I left the velodrome feeling accomplished and happy that I didn’t fall off! Riding around a velodrome was fun, I haven’t met a two-wheeled sport I don’t like yet but mountain biking is still by far the best in my opinion.

My Meon Valley Meanders – Guest blog by Sally

My Meon Valley Meanders – Guest blog by Sally

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Hello! I hope you are having a fine weekend outside enjoying the warm Autumn weather we are having at the moment. I just wanted to share with you something exciting! Over the next few weeks I have some fantastic guest bloggers writing about their adventures outside by bike, fell running, on two feet, the best wild camp spots and other adventure activities to try out in the UK.

I hope you enjoy.

Firstly, I was delighted to be asked to write this guest blog as it acknowledges my new status as a ‘cyclist’… For a fat fifty-year-old with serious asthma and a questionable approach to fitness, this is a significant badge of honour that I shall wear with pride.

A couple of things happened this year that prompted me to get on my bike. The first was a serious chest infection that put me on steroids and the sofa for almost two months. This led to a complete review of my asthma with the respiratory team at QA, a change of medication and a new lease of life.

The second was my fiftieth birthday… cue mid-life crisis. However, instead of botox and a boob job I opted for a snazzy new bike. I’ve dabbled with cycling over the last couple of years but I felt ready to move up a gear (pardon the pun).

I hate busy roads and I’m a nervous rider, so I wasn’t comfortable with a fully loaded, curly handlebarred, skinny-tyred road bike. Instead, I went for a nice compromise – the Whyte Victoria. Described as a ‘fast commuting bike’, it’s at the sexy end of the sports hybrids, with carbon forks and a seat that makes your eyes water (but I’ve actually got used to). The tyres are still skinnyish but with enough grip to keep me feeling secure on my local patchwork of country lanes that often feature a layer of tractor mud and downland gravel.

To celebrate my exciting new toy, I signed up for a Cancer Research UK challenge to cycle 300 miles over the month of September. Cycling an average of 10 miles a day means I have got to know every nook and cranny of the Meon Valley – and fallen completely in love with it. With a miles and miles of quiet country lanes to choose from, on a sunny day the Meon Valley is a cyclist’s dream. It’s hilly, but for every climb there is a glorious downward stretch with fabulous views to make the effort totally worthwhile.

One of my favourite routes is what I call ‘my easy 10-miler’, which starts in Denmead and loops around World’s End, Southwick and back via Furzley Road. It’s a pretty ride featuring a vast majority of undisturbed country lanes. I’ve done this ride many times solo, with my husband and recently with the lovely Terri Bryant and the Breeze Network ladies. It’s also a great route to take visiting friends because the climbs aren’t too painful and there are two pubs and one of the loveliest tea rooms in Hampshire en route. See Southwick Village Tea Rooms

The only daunting bit for ‘main road haters’ like me is the short stretch up from Southwick towards Portsdown Hill. I freaked out the first time I saw it, with traffic flying past at breakneck speeds and a VERY LONG hill ahead of me… but that was before I realised there was a cycle lane and I was turning left half way up, before the steep bit!! Back on to an idyllic country lane where I can hear the birds tweeting and can happily natter to my companions – hurrah!

Here’s the route.


Rider Development Sessions with Breeze

Rider Development Sessions with Breeze

Over the past two months I have been working with Breeze and Energise Me, running Rider Development sessions for ladies who want to feel more confident and able on their bikes.

When we were younger we could pretend and visualise anything we wanted, we could be dragon slayers or in a rock band. This ability to imagine is what helps children to learn. When I coach children we often talk about cones being trees and wiping mud off our shoes to visualise the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Going from coaching children to adults was a new challenge. As adults we tend to be less imaginative which can make learning feel harder.

I adapted my coaching techniques to accommodate for the way the ladies wanted to learn, using short demonstrations with plenty of practise and time for questions and feedback on how they felt. It was interesting, usually if you ask children if they have a question very rarely will they say yes, so I have to ask a lot of direct questions to check for understanding, the ladies were very different. If they were not sure they would double check they had understood correctly by asking questions, which as a coach was very helpful and meant we had plenty of practises and reinforcement of techniques.

The three sessions where all about building skill and confidence,  so each week we re-capped the coaching points from the week before and embedded them before moving onto the next skill.

Over the three weeks we covered braking, cornering and gear selection thinking about real life situations where these techniques would be used. The skills section was followed by going out in a led ride to put it all into practise. This proved a winning formula, it worked very well and showed the importance of programs like Breeze to help develop grass roots cycling.

The feedback from the three weeks was good and I am hoping to do more sessions very soon.

To enquire about these coaching sessions please contact Hannah

New year’s resolutions, what is your plan?

New year’s resolutions, what is your plan?

January is an odd month, after the high from Christmas it can be quite a low month. Low on funds, low on effort and low on dedication to stick to those New year’s resolutions you made one the first. Myself included in this!

This makes it an odd month to decide to set your yearly goals. Talking to a friend recently I asked what were her new year resolutions she said “oh I don’t set them in January, I know what I want to achieve in the big picture and then every other month I re-assess” I can see the benefit in this, it adds in an important part to goal setting, which most people don’t think of and that is the analysis of those goals on a frequent basis. It makes your goals/New year resolutions more tangible by setting mile stones you can celebrate and know you’re on/off track.

This is why I like to have a plan of how I am going to get from A to B and then on to C. It’s sensible really you wouldn’t start driving your car without planning the journey. The same comes for setting fitness goals you need to plan and assess that plan as you go. So I have been thinking of ways in which I can help you with your fitness goals and make sure my own go to plan at the same time!

Your goals need to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.  It is alright setting out to ‘get fitter’ for the New Year but what does that look like? How is it going to feel when you get there? How will you know, what stepping stones will you go through on the way to your goal of ‘fitter’.

One thing I have found over my years of training is if you don’t know if your improving you tend to ‘flat line’ going out thinking you’re working hard only to find out when it actually matters that you probably could of pushed harder in training. So it is important to set yourself markers so you will know if it’s going well or if you need to sit yourself down and have a chat! This can also work the other way of course sometimes your pushing so hard towards your goal you forget that rest is the valuable time when your body recovers, re-energises and gets stronger. As a woman I think it’s sometimes harder to properly rest. Or at least that how it seems in my house, my rest days involve house work and a number of other things which mean I don’t always properly rest. A way to test how well you’re recovering is with your heart rate (HR) measuring your resting HR in the mornings will give an indication over training. The best way is to measure when you’re lying down 5 mins after waking, record for 5 days if you see an increase over 2 beats per min you could be heading towards over training. Give yourself a day off.

Heart rate is a great, cost effective way to measure your fitness and create controlled training sessions. By measuring your heart rate you can work out your HR zones and from there you can develop your training in these specific zones.

So my top tips for your 2017 goals are:

  1. Set SMART goals
  2. Measure your progress whether that is in a diary or using Garmin/Strava
  3. Take time to properly rest
  4. Spend time running/riding/walking with friends
  5. Create milestones to work towards
  6. Drink plenty of water

I’d love to hear your goals for 2017 please comment below.

Good luck for 2017 x


Breeze Ride Leader

Breeze Ride Leader

On Saturday I braved the wind and rain to take part in my Breeze level one ride leadership award. British Cycling’s Breeze campaign is to get more women into riding bikes for fun, the aim is to help women to feel confident and comfortable about riding bikes.

I decided as biking has opened so many doors for me that I would like to volunteer some of my time to help get other ladies on to their bikes! The training took part over the course of a day and incorporated class room lectures with out door practical sessions. It was fun and informative and was a great introduction to the sort of rides i could expect to run as a Breeze champion. I met lots of other Breeze ride leaders and it was a fantastic opportunity to network and build a base of riding buddies.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a ride leader and getting more women out on their bikes contact the Breeze network.

I will be running Breeze rides from April 2014 from Petersfield and the surrounding area please contact me if you are interested in joining Rides will be tailored to ability and can be off road or on road.

Happy Cycling!

Breeze Ride Leader Award