As the nights get lighter and the days a little brighter the opportunities for us to get out on adventures increases! Have you been on a micro adventure in the UK?
You only get one life, you get to choose how you spend your time, but sometimes ‘adventure’ can seem financially out of reach however there is no need to reside yourself to the dull and mundane just yet. There are endless micro adventures you can get up to here in the UK without spending a fortune or needing a month off work, here is my top 10:
1. Head for your local trail center! I am a little biased as mountain biking is my passion so of course biking micro adventures are top of my list, but in the UK we have some great trail centers where there are routes for all abilities from green which is beginner level and good for children to black and orange for those for who their wheel to leave the ground and like it to be steep and technical. In the south head for Queen Elizabeth Country Park or Swinley Forest further afield Cannock Chase and the Chiltern Hills are super fun! If you need a little confidence boost book yourself a morning with a coach to help improve your cycling ability. Mountain bike trail guide coming soon subscribe to keep up to date.
2. The UK capital of adventure personally would be Wales. Head for Snowdonia for a micro adventure, where you will find great camping spots, pretty b&bs plenty of sheep along with loads of outdoor activities from white water rafting to climbing. At Plas Y Brenin you can get great coaching in kayaking and climbing.
3. Surf’s up! Jutting straight out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cornwall is a magnet for swell, creating perfect waves for surfing! Also having some of the best beaches in the UK ideal for rock pooling and beach combing adventures. Why not take on a litter pick for surfers against sewage at the same time. A micro adventure with purpose!
4. Go for a wild swim – whether it’s a lake, river or the sea find some friends and go for a dip! Remember to check the tide times if you pick the sea and a wet suit could be a good shout!
5. Sleep outside without a tent – you can pick up a bivvy bag from Go Outdoors armed with this and perhaps a friend or two and a camping stove and your local woods could become your first micro adventure.
6. See how far you can run/walk/cycle in a weekend/day/morning/evening…
7. Take a new route to work – Micro adventures can happen at any time, why not have one five days a week, I am fortunate enough to live on the South Downs a beautiful area. I first discovered just how beautiful when I mixed up my commute routes for a couple of weeks not only did this give me a real sense of achievement in finding new ways to work but I could use these cycling routes as new training rides as well.
8. Use this great site called Fancy Free Walks to find a walk from a new place. Martyn and I have been using this site to explore our local area finding walk with good pub stops and making an adventure of it.
9. Scotland – The most beautiful and wildest part of our great Island. Okay it can take a while to get there but the sleeper train from London is a great option or why not drive and stop off at different places along the way to make a real road trip of the UK. Read about biking in Scotland.
10. Enter a race! Not to win (unless you want too) but for the adventure. Racing gives you a reason to exercise and motivation to get outside and maybe try something new. There are loads of sites which have these types of challenges like Rat Race, Tough Mudder and Cycling Events UK the bonus is your likely to get a badly fitting t-shirt and a medal as well! Read about my Mum and I racing in the New forest.
Back in January like a lot of other people I made a list of goals I would like to achieve in 2017.
Half way through the year I thought it was a good time to look at what I have achieved and what is left to go.
Whistler – heli-skiing didn’t go to plan this was probably a bit ambitious considering my skill level on a snowboard, however we did go back country ski touring which was great fun and gave us an experience of something totally different we had never considered before.
24 hour pairs race – Fitness and timings didn’t come off for this one.
Complete the South Downs Way – Still to do
24-hour solo mountain bike race – despite the biblical rain and a broke bike I made it across the finish line in 2nd Really happy with my achievement at Pivot 24:12.
Mont Blanc expedition – this has been moved to 2018
Bike down Snowden – hoping to complete in October
Bike packing with Mum – Still working on where…
The first time I wrote this I was upset by how little I had achieved. After a good run I decided the way to finish this post was to look at how my goals had changed and why maybe some of the things I thought I would do had moved.
The first thing is my unwritten goal this year was to grow my cycling club Pedal 2 Pedal. This has been successful. I have started Saturday sessions once a month and have been fully booked for the first term. I have run 10 summer holiday camps which all filled up and from that have new children waiting to join my club. I have taught 8 children how to ride their bikes. This has taken hard work and commitment to plan, market and deliver these sessions but the hard work has paid off and Pedal 2 Pedal has grown from strength to strength this year.
Martyn and I have also found a new love for the water and have been kitesurfing, taking up a new hobby requires commitment and time to learn and develop your skills. I have really enjoyed a new challenge and pushing my body in a new direction has been rewarding and given me something new to get excited about and a reason to strengthen my whole body and not just my cycling legs!
Partly to do with having a dog that needs lots of exercise and partly down to having two friends who introduced me to it, I have started running! Not far, I am up to 6 miles. Running is great it gives me the head space and ‘me’ time that I crave from cycling with the same ‘I am working hard’ feeling that cycling for 3 hours gives me. I also brought my first pair of new trainers since I was about 16!
Had fun with friends glamping, walking, cycling and running. Racing is a lonely business, yes you meet great people and races are full of friendly faces but training and racing and the commitment to put racing above everything else takes its toll on your personal life. Having to be strict with yourself and eat the correct foods at the correct times and go to bed on time and not rink and putting going out on training rides over going out with friends was starting to make me feel isolated. This year I have fully embraced spending time and making memories with family and friends. I am happier for it, although maybe not as fit!
Overall I am pleased with amount of ‘stuff’ I have done this year and will continue to work towards my other goals.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Grip Grab on the promotional videos and photography for their up and coming women’s range. This progressive company has been listening to customer feedback and decided to produce an exclusive women’s range designed specifically for female riders.
The new women’s range has been developed to work seamlessly with existing cycling kits, the colours they have chose turquoise and purple/pink compliment many existing women’s kits, however if you fancy being totally matched then their new women’s kit is an appealing choice.
The new women’s kit includes matching shoe covers, gloves, headbands and cycling caps all designed using the highest quality materials with performance and comfort at the core of each product.
The last two weeks have been really busy work has been full on. I have been working hard to also get some new coaching courses off the ground and tie down dates for my first ever series of women’s ‘back on your bike’ sessions. As well as having to arrange plasterers and plumbers for our house renovation! All of this has led to not a great deal of training time. I know ‘not enough time’ is an excuse that I personally don’t believe in, I think if your committed to becoming better at something whether that is a sport or something else in your life then you have to look at your time and how you can use it better. That being said the last two weeks it has been important to focus on sorting out Pedal 2 Pedal and so training has been shifted down my priority list.
With this in mind I decided to try and go running, I knew it would challenge me but also you can fit a 30/40 minute run (this is about all I can manage) into your day quite easily where a 2/3 hour training ride is a little more challenging.
I am not a runner, I used to run a lot at school and I have done the Race for Life with my Mum a few times when I was a teenager but I haven’t run for ages!
My plan was to run every day for the two busy weeks, I soon found out my body was not so keen on this idea! The impact from running on joints etc is far greater than cycling and even with a good stretch I had to adapt my running plan to every other day and so far (with the odd training ride) I have fit it in!
I really have enjoyed running! I went running with friends Lauren and Stu and our dogs Lola and Luna along the sea front which was fun, I did feel like I was cheating slightly as Luna pulled me along!
Lauren and I have been running in our lunch break as well and I have found that this is a great way to spend a lunch time as you get outside away from your computer and switch off, we always come back to the office feeling full of endorphin’s’ and ready for the afternoon after food of course! I highly recommend this all you need is your running gear a packet of baby wipes and a deodorant.
As I am aiming towards some quite big cycling goals this year it is important that I keep training on my bike but I think these two weeks have been good and I will continue to run as it builds bone strength and other muscles that I’m not using as a cyclist.
Sometimes life gets busy but don’t let life get in the way of what you want to do. Remember to make time for yourself even if it is just a 30 minute run your mind and body will thank you for it.
The shortest day of the year may be behind us but winter is in full swing! Winter is a great time to put in some base training and work on your overall fitness for the spring/summer.
Here are my top tips:
Running: I am not a natural runner, but during the winter I like to put on my trainers, wrap up warm and head out for a 20/30 minute run to stretch my legs, release some endorphins and enjoy being active outside. Try adding some squat jumps or lunges to your run to build leg strength.
Strength & Conditioning in the gym: Working on your general strength is really important, cycling is a non-load bearing sport so putting in some time during the winter to build on your bone strength, build bone density and do some resistance training could really pay off and improve your cycling.
Pilates: Pilates is a fantastic way of keeping your core strength up. Your core muscles keep you in a good riding position, with correct alignment enabling you to ride for longer.
Fartleck Training: Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and that is exactly what it’s all about. Unlike tempo and interval training, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts over a period of time. After a 15 / 20 minute warm-up, play with speed by cycling faster for short efforts (how short and how hard is up to you), then use an easy effort to recover, this should always be slightly longer than your hard effort. This can be great fun in a group to bring in a competitive element sprinting to the next lampost or end of the road. (Please be aware and careful of the traffic and obstacles)
This session mixes up working anaerobically and aerobically.
Anaerobic exercise is a physical exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster than at rest. It strengthens your heart and lungs and trains your cardiovascular system to manage and deliver oxygen more quickly and efficiently throughout your body. Aerobic exercise uses your large muscle groups, is rhythmic in nature, and can be maintained continuously for at least 10 minutes.