Saturday 16 June 2012

6 becomes 4 but I managed the C2C

On May 18th, 19th and 20th myself and a lovely group of ladies rode from Whitehaven to Tynemouth Castle, to some its an easy 3 days of bike riding, to me it was one challenge that I hoped I could complete.

For those that don't know I suffer from a rare chronic pain condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It effects my left wrist, hand, palm and up to my elbow. It is a neurological condition that will never go away. So everyday I am in pain, on a good day it feels like I have just fallen off my bike and slammed my hand on the pavement, on a bad day, like every bone in my hand is broken. Even a change in temperature or a light breeze can cause pain. So riding a bike can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

I love cycling, and so despite the pain, I ride my bike, but some days it can get a little much. So 3 days of riding an average of 50 miles a day, was never going to be comfortable but it was going to be brilliant.

A great thing about the C2C is the people you meet along the way. As most are going the same way, with their own reasons for doing so, there is always conversations to be had. People are not only friendly but supportive and the atmosphere in the cafes and pubs along the way are incredible.

We started with 6, one who was only riding with us on the first day, from Whitehaven to Slaidburn. The biggest and hardest part of the day would be Whinlatter. If you do the C2C I would recommend the main road, the C2C one is a pain in the ass!A quick  stop at the cafe at the top and then a bloody freezing descent into Keswick. And then of course it pissed down, oh goody. Somewhere near the pub at Greystoke we lost two, one went to find them whilst I was lucky enough to get to the pub for my tea.

The two were eventually found and the three of us lucky to make it to the pub ate a meal with three lovely lads and headed to the house for much needed showers and to get out of my soggy lycra.

Day 2 Slaidburn to Ninebanks Youth Hostel.

Another has to head home after the effects of a migraine just proved a bit to difficult to carry on. This was the day I was looking forward to, we had Hartside climb to enjoy. Although I didn't quite get my own way as I wanted to start from the very bottom of the climb, a compromise was made and we started in between the actual start and the actual C2C way . Just before the start to Hartside a minor problem occurred, a chain brakes and a puncture, and of course none of us actually had a quick link, and in a rather sleepy town no one was actually  around to help. Fortunately for us, we had just stopped for lunch at a friends of one of the riders and they volunteered to take two to Penrith to get everything sorted whilst two of us set off. Let this be a lesson to you, bring a fucking quick link with you at all times; that reminds me....

I loved Hartside by the way, the ride to the Ninebanks youth hostel, I did not.

Day 3 Ninebanks to Tynmouth Castle.

Ran into the three lads we met in the pub on the first night and rode with them for sometime. A lovely group of lads who used to ride together but life has just got in the way recently. 25miles of climbing, and actually a bit of bite you in the ass climbs too! But at the top, it meant the next 35 would be flat or all down hill. I've never ever had the pleasure of 35miles of big ring riding, its a pleasant change from small ring climbing and great to hit speeds of 20miles and hour without even trying on flats. Usually a max of 12 miles is what I'm used to. It was at the finish that you realize how much you have accomplished. With friends to greet you at the end,a bit of cake and champagne, you celebrate 155 miles, mechanicals, illnesses and pain.

I was in pain for the majority of the three days, but none of that really matters at the end, because when you finish you realize that despite the pain, when you find something you love its rather impossible to stop you.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Loss of a friend and the gain of an enemy

Its been sometime since I wrote a blog. Its been quite a tough ride for a few months and I guess I just didn't feel the need to pen my thoughts.

I've had a few personal issues that I have decided not to include in my blog. But I am learning how to be patient, forgive and not to blame myself for everything that has occurred.

I lost a very good friend in October. Dave Hargrave 23.2.75-17.10.11 or to the twitter folk @roadbikedave

He was amazing, there aren't enough words in the English dictionary to describe the type of person he was, but I'm most certain that Dave would be the one to make such a word up, and then DM me it. Dave's death shook me more then I thought it would. It scared me to know that life can be taken so quickly, without warning. But it also woke me up from my bubble and that was a good thing.

Dave was the happiest person I knew. So full of positivity for everything and always in the mood to spread laughter, love and passion where ever he was. I feel that it is now my job to ensure his life wasn't waisted, so I now and trying to live life like he did. But oh how hard it can be to get there. When tears are easily shed how does one leave all that has happened behind and learn to smile through everything. I guess the answer lies in each day I get out of bed, it becomes easier to smile and to feel the love and support that the new friends in my life give.

The other thing I have Dave to thank for is the most amazing friends that he brought me. Especially Craig and Andrew, the Northern boys with the biggest hearts, who bring a smile to my face everyday, and to Anthony, who has taken over Dave's job of ensuring that I ahve some pleasant DMs to get me through the day.

Dave's passion for the bike and his love for completing some long, strenuous and in my words, crazy fucking rides, has been kept going by people like Paul and Craig, who continuously now enter more Sportives that I know Dave will be riding with them, the entire way, and most likely kick their asses doing it.

I think Dave would be proud to know that we all are living life the best we can, still wearing Assos and still staying far away from Campagnolo.

Another thing that has happened recently is a bit of a twitter feud, a girl who has upset myself and my dear friend. I'm not even sure why it started or why I was so upset by the comments that were being made. But it wasn't just the comments it was the way it was done, like she was going through our followers and then following them herself. It really upset me when a few weeks ago she started retweeting a ride that some friends were trying to arrange for Dave. It felt like nothing was sacred. Like she was trying to pry her way into our lives, our personal ones. And although it was very nice to mention Dave it just felt, well a bit like an intrusion.

I was also the way she kept mentioning things to my friend although it clearly upset her, knowing that she would get a reaction. Well when you poke someone with a sharp stick enough, eventually they will slap you. And then when she had caused that reaction, she would shout that she was being abused and bullied. It is wrong on so many levels, to beat someone down, until eventually they find it almost impossible to get up. Maybe she doesn't even realise the grief she is causing, but then again, maybe, if she would listen, she might realize.

I know I shouldn't let these things upset me, maybe this is when I miss Dave the most, because he would have already left me some meaningful DM something so inspirational that this thing would just roll off me as easy as my tears can fall. But I care about the safety and happiness of my friends so much, that I feel the need to make sure they aren't left feeling upset, depressed or victimised.

It is Dave that I think of at this time. What would he do, or say. How would he react in this situation? Maybe those who loved him have the answers for me. Or maybe not. But I feel like I need this to be over, because I feel that I don't want to make Dave's positive outlook for life a waste. I want to make sure that everyday I do my best to live as positively and happily as I can, to carry on the best gift that Dave could give, to continue to live my life in the moment, the best I can and with plenty of love and laughter.

I don't know why it has taken me so long to write this blog, maybe it was the fact that when I did it meant that I was actually going to really have to say good bye, And maybe it also meant that I was really going to have to start my life, the way it should be lived.

So I will say my final good bye to Dave, thank him for his inspiration, his love and his support.

And I will also say goodbye to the lady who feels it necessary to try and upset me. Because at the end of the day, I think, that's what Dave would have done.

Saturday 16 July 2011

ten things that really annoy me about cycling

10. Yellow shoes in the Peleton: OMG! FFS! I really really dont like yellow shoes. I really dont know why, but for some reason they irrate me more then a rash in my special place. And why is it that the ones that wear them always seem to have really big feet? its like bananas with speedplay cleats. Oh and might I add, I really dont like bananas either!

9.Unwanted coaches: There are times when you really want advice, when your stuck on that last climb, or when you just cant seem to get any energy, or you have pain, or you need a new pair of shoes. But its the ones who are constantly in your bloody face, forcing their suggestions down your throat. Or the ones who never believe you when you say you are unable to do something. They have these stupid, annoying, everything is roses and rainbows, type of positive attitdue that you just want to throw up all over them. When I want advice I will ask. When I dont I wont. And unless you ride with me and know my style and my abilities you have no fucking right to shove your suggestions down my throat (oh that felt good!) (rant over?)

8.Wind: I hate riding in the wind. There is that cycling myth, Im sure made up by people who have been cycling for 100 years and are positive it exists- the tail wind. Im sorry to disappoint but the tail wind is about as believable as big foot. Some swear they have experienced it but rarely is it proven. For some reason you are riding into a head wind the whole way. Even if you are doing a loop it still seems to be in your face. Its as if you change direction, so the wind does as well. maybe the wind hates cyclists, or maybe it just hates me.
What ever the story is, its bloody irratating. And if I hear "riding in the wind only makes you stronger" one more time...

7. Cars parked in cycle lanes: There are barely any cycle lanes around, so riding home and coming across this. Clearly not loading anything (apart from their fat ass in the chinese) and just being all around lazy! And then they have radio programs based on cyclists and why we dont ride in cycle
lanes!Well besides the giant metal lumps that sit in them, glass, bottles, rubbish, oh and the ever present drains, manhole covers, and dog shit. I think that is enough reasons really. So why have them? Surely a Council can waste money doing something else that is just as useless. The only things cycle lanes seem to do is give drivers an excuse to push you towards the curb.

6. Non Pro cyclists in full team kit: Yes I know, some really nice people wear pro team jerseys
etc, I dont mind a jersey but its more when they wear full
bloody kit and are surely not a pro. Its the people who are a XXXL complaining they cant find
team jerseys in their size??? Hmmm I wonder why? Pro kit looks fantastic in a peleton, on someone like Mark Cavendish or Tom Boonen. But even worse is those who wear the World Champion stuff. Its nice but its for the world champions not for Joe Blow riding his Dawes in the local sportive. I understand that some want to support their favourite team, one item of team kit is acceptable, but if your going to wear the kit, make sure you can live up to it.

5. Potholes!!: Maybe its time the council stopped spending money on green paint and instead fill
these bloody brain rattling, teeth shattering, piss your pants holes in the fucking road! I am being totally
serious here, these things are bloody dangerous and more irratating then an itchy hemmeroid. There is no excuse for these monsters on the
roads. I am not joking when I say that some of these potholes are big enough to lose your virginity in! At least in this photo shown, someone was kind enough to stick a traffic cone in front of it, but most dont and when you hit them you really can feel your brain rattle in your skull!

4. Cafe legs: Good rides out should have cafe stops. There is nothing better then knowing half way through a ride that there will be cake! You get to the cafe, choose your cake, and coffee (tea) (coke) and settle down for 30 min or so and gossip. You deserve the little rest, you have pedalled hard to
get here. But then ..... you get back on the bike, and off you go, settle into the rest of your ride, and your legs just dont work???? Bloody cafe legs!! I dont know what happens, you think that your legs would be greatful for the rest. I think in spirit the legs stay at the cafe, enjoying a nice feet up position,when in body you struggle to get up the tiniest of
anthills. So you would think that you would learn that cafe legs are no fun, and not have a cafe stop, right? Ha Ha as if,what excuse would you have then for a shit performance?

3. The know everything about cycling person:
This generally comes in male form and they THINK they know everything there is to know about cycling. Even David Harmon and Sean Kelly dont pretend they know everything and they bloody know quite allot! Even worse,
even when their wrong they dont give in, and god forbid you call them on it!! Jesus you might as well dig your own grave. If you decide to point out their wrong they will do everything in their power to point out your every flaw. They are the biggest tossers of the cycling community and if they work in the industry can be the sole reason why some people get put off by cycling. They are generally bullies that make fun of other people efforts and would steal their best friends ideas and present it as their own if they thought it would make them look good. These types of people deserve to hit potholes.

2. The one who has to be different: They search far and wide for cycling equiptment, bikes etc that no one has heard of then waffle off some shit, boring, unrealistic stats about their kit. they couldnt ride Specialized or Treks (good enough for half of the peleton) because in their minds it is conforming to the masses. Most of the time they cant pronounce the name of their bike manufacturer, or most likely dont know its probably made in the same factory as their enemy's (known brand bikes) The best thing about these cyclists is they generally arent very fit because instead of spending their time riding they are to busy searching for unknown brands, that means you can easily drop them on a climb and leave them to ride by themselves.

1. Ladies Pink kit: When you are a little girl you are forced into a world of pink, flowery, swirly crap. Your first bike was most likely some sort of pink, princess bike and you probably had pigtails
with ribbons tied around them. But now I am in my 30s andIi really dont like being forced pepto bismal colours down my throat. I know I have
mentioned this a few times in the past, but I just wish people would listen. I want quality kit, just like men get. I dont want skirts and short shorts, vest tops, jerseys with one measily fucking pocket. I want waterproof shorts, tops that fit my largest chest, shorts that fit over my ass, in normal colours. Please.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Live to ride

Its been a while since I last published a post on my blog. I have been meaning to write about my experience of attempting 30 days of biking in April, but after yesterdays fatal crash in the Giro and the death of Wouter Weylandt my thoughts have been redirected.

Its made me think about the impact cycling has had on my life and the reasons why I appreciate it so much.

Being a cyclist is being part of something very special. I feel as if I belong to a community built on support, appreciation and passion. You become intertwined with people and you feel the impact just as strong when something happens within the community.

You grow everyday, inside this large team of riders and we all try to protect each other from harm. We give advice to those who ask (and even to those who don't), and we always get encouragement to better ourselves.

Whilst cycling you try to achieve more and more and even when you succeed at one thing, there is always something bigger or better to challenge us. And along the way you are never alone.

Cycling has made me a better person, I feel more relaxed, more full of life and I couldn't be more proud to belong to a sport that encourages such teamwork. I ride for a various amount of reasons, maybe to relieve the stresses of the day, to socialise with my friends, to get fitter, to get out in the sunshine, to enjoy a challenge, discover new territory, meet new people and to feel more alive.

On such a day that one in the community falls, everyone stops to remember, the reasons why cycling is such a big part of our lives and why we are the luckiest people in the world to be a part of it.

Friday 25 March 2011

What do woman want?

I started my new job this week, one of my roles is to find industry reviews on cycling products we sell and input them onto the website. I have spent my week looking through cycling magazines and online review sites.

It dawned on me that there are very few reviews for woman's kit, possibly as there is very few woman's kit on offer anywhere.

It is starting to improve though. At least there is more then one pair of shorts on offer on the various websites.

Last year I visited the cycle show in London and asked various suppliers about the amount/type of woman's specific items they were selling/creating. My responses were generally not to helpful and sometimes just plain rude.

So why is it that bike companies still aren't supplying a decent variety of kit?

I did ask at work what kind of issues they were having when it came to woman specific items, what are they stocking, what sells, and why. It was an interesting reply. They get woman's kit in, it doesn't sell. They put a forum up on the website asking woman what they are looking for and they got no response, their customer base is mostly male.

So where are the woman spending their money? What type of kit do they want? Do woman not shop online because they would rather go shopping in a store, make a day of it with their girlfriends? (I bloody wouldn't) Do they only want to buy cheap tack? Do they really like pink and flowery? What the hell do woman want?

Its an ongoing issue and one that baffles me. I spend money on good kit because its what works. I prefer woman's specific kit if possible because its made to fit over my chest and backside. I don't like pink, or flowers and I want to have the same amount of selection as men do. But am I the only one?

If woman aren't willing to spend the money on kit then why would a company waste money making or selling it.

What do woman really want?

Tuesday 8 March 2011

my dream ride

Ive been studying the relationship of the teams in the pro peloton for a couple of years. Watching the classics and the tours closely to see how the teams work together to ensure the ride is safe, fast and their man wins.

Its the beauty of the sport, the family that is created around one rider to ensure that they are on the podium.

Even the slower riders have their place.

Occasionally riders will invariably fall off the back. A climb beyond their capabilities, a pace just a bit to fast, an injury or illness, or just a bad day. But their job within the family is not forgotten, and at then end of the day they all get on the same bus and head back to their hotels, together.

The thing to remember is that the ones that fall off the back are never alone, and many times team mates are sent back to bring their rider back into the group, or, their is always another rider with the same issues at their side, team cars, police and a broom wagon, just in case.

Its the peloton that inspires the type of ride I think I love. A group, working together, to keep everyone within an arms reach. To ensure that every rider is safe and secure within their own peloton, no matter how small it is. Where riders pull each other along and motivate each other. Where a pace is set that most can cope with, and if one flags and drops off the back, someone is there to ensure they to are safe.

Its the type of ride that can inspire every kind of rider to stay on their bikes, to continue to ride and one day, to be the one who is helping the slower rider back into the middle of the peloton.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Still learning

I almost, yes almost, made it through the month of February without any serious tantrums, it was going so well until the mountain bike ride on Sunday 27th. 5 min into the trail, and off I go, landed on a rock and put a wee dent in my knee, although it felt as if someone had crushed my knee cap with a hammer!!!!

FFS!!! Learning to ride a bike has its drawbacks.

So what do I need to successfully learn how to ride a bike properly?

Mountain Bike wise, Im thinking knee pads may be a good investment? Already a proud owner of elbow pads, and a new helmet after my previous tumble, maybe I will add knee pads to my attire. Actually, if anyone has any spare cotton wool, I could always just wrap myself up, then you can just push me down the hill.

Then maybe there is the fact that I need more practice, "practice makes perfect" so they say, absolute fucking bollocks!!! Could you imagine a perfect mountain biker?? Well I guess if they were saying perfect looking, but then Im already gorgeous so I dont need to work any more at that (as if) But yes, I need to get out a bit more, on trails I can trust aren't going to chew me up and spit me out.

I think the most important thing I need when riding the mtb is just some more confidence. Every time you fall you lose it for a little while, and to be honest, every time I encounter a steep descent I still pee my pants a little. But I still enjoy getting on the mtb and I do know that one day I will be flying down the hills laughing rather then crying.

Road Bike wise, Im not quite sure what I need. Last year I thought it was a carbon bike, and yes, it did help. Some people may say its not the bike but the person who is pedalling, I think their just sad people without carbon :) Oh and might I add you also need SIDI shoes to go with said bike.

I then thought, maybe I needed people to ride with, so I went on twitter, I found people, I rode with people and I enjoyed myself. But sometimes the frustrating thing about riding with people as that the majority are faster, and better climbers. And yes, I know, its good to ride with people better then you, its supposed to be challenging (something like that anyways) And the people I have ridden with have been pretty brilliant and patient, but it can make me feel worse when I know their waiting for me, or riding very slow so I can keep up.I know they dont mean to make me feel that way, thats just my own insecurities.

But really I think I just need to get my fat ass off the sofa and ride my bike. My lovely carbon bike, still in the shed until the muck spreading, hedge trimming and salting disappears. Only a few more weeks on the winter bike and I will feel nothing but light air between my thighs. (hmmm not sure thats the best way to describe it) But yes, ride my bike, lots, and you know what, if Im slower then everyone else, its either because Im riding behind boys that look delicious in their Lycra, Ive got a bit transfixed with the view, Ive got cake, or I may have just fallen off (in that case can you come back and help me up please)