Tag Archives: Cycling

Power Bar – Natural Energy Cereal

The Power Bar natural energy cereal is one of the samples I had through being a Power Bar product tester.

I have been really impressed with the products I have tasted and this is no exception!

During my 3 hour training ride I used this as an energy snack. The session was mid to high intensity and I found I had to slow down to eat this bar. However the taste was brilliant a mixture of wholegrain oats, fruit pieces, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. It was the right balance of flavours and the mix sweet and savoury.

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The texture was like a normal cereal bar and it was easy to chew when riding at a steady pace.

I found later during my ride that my energy levels had been maintained and I did not get a sugar rush or a low which was great. On long rides you want your fuelling to maintain your energy levels for the duration of your workout without major changes in your energy levels.

Nutritional Information:

Nutrition Information per 100g per bar (40 g)
Energy kJ (kcal) 1549 (367) 620 (147)
Fat 7,2 g 2,9 g
of which saturates 2,6 g 1,0 g
Carbohydrate 65 g 26 g
of which sugars 22 g 9,0 g
Fibre 5,8 g 2,3 g
Protein 7,2 g 2,9 g
Salt 0,33 g 0,13 g
Magnesium 180 mg 72,0 mg
(48%**) (19%**)

I would recommend this bar for a pre-training snack and on long steady training rides its great to have as a crunchy snack.

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Trans Alp Specialized

Earlier in the year I took part in the Trans Alp bike race. For the race I rode the Specialized ERA Comp the women’s version of the Epic. It was a wonderful bike to ride and race great handing both down and up hill. The brain technology in the shock made for a super comfortable ride without loosing power going up hill.

Thanks to MA-Aerial Worx for the video!

It’s been a while

Sorry for the long period of silence it has taken me some time to put my thoughts into sentence form!

Since competing the Trans Alp at the end of July life has been somewhat bizzare… I came back full of memories of the highs and lows and buzzing from achieving my dream to complete my first stage race.

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Top of Umbrail Passe

The Trans Alp was a magical time where life was completely consumed by racing. The year leading up had also been consumed by training, after a week of re-telling the story and the excitement that we had achieved it, I hit the ‘what happens next’ wall. I found it difficult to describe how I was feeling, but down pretty much covers it, after such a high it was a massive low and for a good few weeks I couldn’t get on my bike for the shear fact that I didn’t know why.

I decided to take the pressure off trying to find the next thing and spend some time enjoying cycling with friends and family which was fun.

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Portsmouth ride with Lauren

Getting out and having some chilled time on my bike was great and gave me time to clear my head and think about what was next.

After a coffee ride with my Mum one day she said why don’t we do a challenge together! after lots of discussion we have now decided to do London to Paris next year which I am super excited about!

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Mum and I riding along to South Cove, Lowestoft

Alongside this my plan is to tackle another stage race. I would love to try the Trans Pyrenees or Swiss epic, so whats next?

I am going back to the gym to build my all over body strength for a few months before putting in the miles starts again.

Thanks to all my friends and family and sponsors for your support over the years.

 

 

Day 7 – The final ascent

Today was a mixture of emotions standing on the start line I felt elated to have made it this far, with no serious mechanicals for both me and the bike! But unhappy that it was to be the last 54 km ride in this beautiful race.

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After a dry start leaving Trento, we started the gradual climb up from 200m to 1700m. The climb started on road turning to forest tracks and gravel paths as we steadily made it to the top. I was feeling great today, no aches and pains and was actually enjoying this demanding climb. (Clearly I’m getting used to the Alps!) Some sections were pretty steep and with all the rain over night rather slippy too and had to be walked. I joined a trail of silent cyclists pushing their bikes with a feeling of accomplishment that we all shared being there on the final day. Once the terrain was rideable I enjoyed the forest trails which were very like home in a way and the rain was certainly not dampening my state of mind as I looked for the lines ahead. The Era has been fantastic, apart from a few gearing issues caused by the 42t sprocket I put on for climbing. The low stand-over height and rear shock have given me confidence to try lines and go down singletrack which I know I would usually not do. I have relished in pushing myself out of my comfort zone and have found this whole week has been one long learning curve on bike handling, climbing, scrambling, nutrition and positive mental attitude!

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The rain soon set in hard and I was so glad to have my Gore Tex jacket. The feed station at 19km was full of chilly cyclists sipping hot soup still with smiles on their faces.

I didn’t stop for long just grabbing some pineapple and a drinks refill before continuing climbing to the summit at 24km.

When I reached the top I felt relieved that my last big hill climb was behind me, but sad that I was nearly half way through the final stage. During this race there has been many highs and lows and I have learnt so much about myself, met some wonderful people and have fully immersed myself in the adventure, one that I am already looking to replicate by taking on another stage race, these thoughts filled my head as I soaked up the downhill. The first part was grassy paths through steep sided gulley’s, which in the dry would have been great fun, but the rain had made them like ice rinks and together with a group I cautiously made my way down these steep parts. Once we hit fire road, I enjoyed the sweeping corners singing songs with the word rain in them, as I made my way down to try and keep my spirits high as the rain tumbled from the sky.

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The feed station at 32km came with a very welcome hot tea and waffles. I had two cups and carried on. Just up the road was my Dad, like a hot water bottle angel, he stood with dry gloves and arm warmers. I have never been so happy to pull on a cosy warm layer and this really helped get me up what was now my final climb in the Alps!

At the top of the climb Michelle was waiting huddled with Tom (her boyfriend). We finished the final downhill section together down some rocky singletrack which I really enjoyed. Now we were not as high, it was warm and damp, a little bit like a summer in Wales, so I felt really at home whizzing down the trails looking for the lines which avoided any slippy roots.

Racing into the back roads of the town, full of puddles and pot holes and through the final finishing archway was incredible, I felt like I was dreaming. After thinking of this moment for the last 10 months, visualising what it would feel like to have accomplished my dream it was difficult to describe how I felt, relieved to have finished climbing mountains for a while, exhilarated to have pushed my body out of the comfort zone both in descending and climbing and overwhelmed to now be able to say I completed the toughest Stage race in Europe! WE DID IT!

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Thank you to all my family and friends who supported me. Thank you to Specialized for letting me use the Era, Thanks to Bike Fixers, Grip Grab, Food for Thought and Dogtag for supporting us on this journey of a life-time.

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Day 6 – Team work, tunnels and thunderstorms

Day six started with some nerves, I was worried about how my back would be after yesterday and felt rather emotional about being so close to the finish line.

Luckily sleep, Pilates and painkillers seemed to work okay and after the congestion created by the downhill start the long climb was okay and I felt alright if I stayed at a steady pace. Michelle is a better climber than me and at this point had disappeared into the distance; it was nice to see her walking back down to help me with my bike on a steeper section when I was struggling to push up. In a team event it is these little moments of support that keep you going.

After the feed station the fun stuff began, with an enduro challenge section through the forest on steep woodland single-track it was challenging yet fun, you had to keep an eye on your line to avoid boulders hidden in the leaves.

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I enjoyed this section a lot and felt good by the end of it. Our path then stayed mainly off road and wiggled through valleys with short sharp climbs and descents, one of the highlights was riding through a very long dark tunnel where the temperature was so cold it took my breath away. It was really eerie riding from bright sunlight into such a dark place. It seemed to go on forever! A small group of us stayed close together and you could tell no one wanted to be alone in this tunnel!

The path then continued to wind through apple groves and vineyards until the last final descent which was more like a scramble than a bike track! We had to carefully make our way down the rock face with our bikes it was super steep!

My body is handling the long days well so far as long as I stick to a steady pace and refuelling regularly before I came away i asked Sally Bigham for advice which has been absolutely brillaint as I have been eating little and often fuelling with between 70 and 90g carbohydrate an hour to keep my energy levels high.

So far my bike had been amazing I changed my brake pads yesterday but apart from that no mechanical issues bar a few jumpy gears. Thanks Specialized.

The climbing has been a lot tougher than I expected but having never bike more than 4 days in a row before and the fact I live in such a flat country its been hard to train for such monster climbs, I am really pleased to make it to day 6! Bring on the final stage I can almost taste Lake Garda and Prossecco!

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Distance: 88.24 km
Metres of climbing: 2,364 m
Saddles: Passo le Fraine (1,705 m)

Day 5 – 3,000m of climbing

Today was tough! I didn’t get the best start as my chain jammed 800m from the start once I had fixed it took ages for me to get going again because of the sheer number of bikers squeezing down this small Italian road.

This bad luck continued throughout the day, my back which has been fine for the last four days, really hurt sending pains down my leg and into my foot, not ideal on a day when you have 3,000m to climb!

I kept it steady and tried to break the day down into sections. I would not think further than the next water point or saddle summit this helped a little but it was one of those days when both mentally and physically I felt pushed to the extreme and had to dig deep to just keep going in the right direction.

By the top of Passo Gavia at 2,600m I was really struggling and there still seemed so much left in front of me. I got off and stretched out my back while Michelle kindly waited this seemed to ease the pain in my leg and foot.

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Michelle and I then descended down the road to the Enduro challenge which was a mixture of dusty steep trail and rock gardens. I have been really enjoying the singletrack its been such good fun and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Today I got over confident at one point and ended scrapping my ankle down the rock which was not pleasant and reminded me that I needed to go careful with two days left to complete the race.

After the enduro challenge the route climbed steeply once more. By the feed station at 45km I was again in a lot of pain and felt overwhelmed by the fact there was still over 40km to go until the finish, I just didn’t see how I could keep going. It is in these moments we all find out the strength of our character, it was a lonely climb to the top of the pass and I battled a lot of negative feelings in those 5km!

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I was relieved to see Michelle at the top who then helped me with my bike up a few steep climbs as she could tell I was in trouble.

The path was undulating and continued to climb further we passed a emergency helicopter and then were rather shocked when we turned the next corner to see a cyclist ready to be air lifted out, it put into perspective how even though my body was hurting I was still able to ride.

We pushed on once more every kilometre seemed to go by so slowly I was relieved to see the finish!

Distance: 86.32 km
Metres of climbing: 3,073 m
Saddles: Passo Gavia (2,621 m), Alta Via Camuna (2,393 m)

Day 4 – The long climb to the summit

Today started slowly as we left Livigno the sheer number of cyclists trying to fit through the streets made the M25 at rush hour look deserted!

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After 4km the road climb turned to gravel track and soon we all spread out grinding our way to the top. The first climb was steeper than I was expecting and I was feeling pretty knackered by the top, 30km into the 73km stage.

My fuelling has been going really well and I tucked away dates on the downhill and flat section through the valley ready for the next climb.

The main event of today came after the first feed station when our route turned back up and my gosh did it go up! We climbed the Umbrail pass. The Umbrail Pass (el. 2,501 metres (8,205 ft)) is a high mountain pass on the SwissItalian border connecting Santa Maria in Val Müstair with Bormio in the Adda valley. On the Italian side, it connects to the Stelvio Pass road. It is currently the highest paved road in Switzerland.

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The road twisted up through the valley getting higher and higher until we ran out of tarmac, at this point we were sent off up on a steep dirt track to our highest point of the Trans Alp at 2,800m the view was too amazing for words and being upi near the snow line felt a little surreal!

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The descent down was pretty sketchy in places with big loose rocks and super steep sections, I enjoyed the challenge and rode it all feeling pretty confident by the end. I will never be able to wimp out on an A line ever again!

After this awesome descent, as always the Trans Alp through in a sneaky uphill to finish off before the enduro challenge to the finish line.

Today was a great day I felt pretty fresh my legs handled the climbing although it was tough the heat didn’t bother me as much and my fuelling strategy of eating little and often seems to be working!

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face ready to face day 5 tomorrow. Now its time to find that pasta party!

 

 

 

Day 3 – The picturesque stage

Day three – The picturesque stage

Today has to be my favourite stage so far! Yes the climbs were brutal and steep but this was compensated in the most stunning single-track I think I have ever ridden!

The race started with a climb (something I am getting used to!) for 23km it was tough work but mainly on road so it was a case of getting in a good gear and keeping a rhythm.

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The route followed the river and climbed gently to start with before getting steeper, the descent from the top was steep and rocky but good fun and led to a well-earned watermelon stop!

The next section was a brutal climb so steep that in places I felt like I was going backwards, I had to hop off and walk on several occasions.

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This gruelling uphill effort when on for what felt like an age, waiting at the top was my Dad with a much needed water bottle refill before the fun stuff began!

The enduro section today was rocky to start with wooded single-track, I loved it apart from the scraping of my hand against the rock which was not much fun.

One of the best parts of today was riding along the side of the reservoir up high through a waterfall and through wooded singletrack it was brilliant fun and the views were out of this world!

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I really enjoyed today the climbs were challenging but the singletrack was brilliant and made up for the pain I felt climbing.

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Today was the hottest day so far and the heat is starting to drain my energy!

Gorrick Summer Monkey

Yesterday was the Gorrick Summer Monkey, the race that introduced me to endurance racing last year. I was excited about going back to Ceasars camp and trying out my new endurance legs on the course!

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On Saturday I had a long ride with Michelle and then went home to prepare for race day. I packed my snacks making sure I had 60g of carbohydrate per hour. I was trying a new snack my dietitian had mentioned taking which were pretzels instead of peanuts as peanuts high fat content can affect my performance. I also packed bananas, dates, malt loaf and some Torq energy gels.

Race day started at 6am getting up to have porridge before packing the car and setting off. I didn’t ride the course but instead spent my time making sure my feed so was stocked with water and snacks in an easy to reach place. I also had my second breakfast of mixed berries and Greek yogurt.

The race started at 9 and the new course was full of surprises, starting with a long drag uphill on fire road it soon turned back into the forest, where a bumpy downhill section dislodged my water bottle from the reverse rack, with riders behind me stopping was not an option, so I continued making a plan of how I would survive on small water bottles.randr-photo-1550288-1500px

The course climbed further this time up to a high point near the reservoir, this was for me the hardest part of the course the sharp left bend at the bottom of a bumpy descent before a sharp climb up seemed to give me gearing issues every lap!

After this was my favourite part of the course as the singletrack twisted through the tress with loads of great corners, jumps and long descents, my top speed was 26.5mph.

Although the lap had been shortened it was really good fun because you would notice something new or find a new favourite section each time which you could look forward to next lap. Thanks guys for a brilliant course!

Eating every 45 minutes was hard as you could never guarantee whether you would be on a trail section where eating was possible, I think this led me to have a little energy dip at around 4 hours, as well as physiologically being around lunch time it is always slightly harder to focus.

I had an energy gel which seemed to cause me more issues than giving me needed energy. Instead I just got stomach cramps, I made a decision to slow down slightly which seemed to relieve my issues and then picked it back up again on the next lap.

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All laps had to be completed within the 6 hours, I came through after my 9th lap on 5 hours 22 and felt like another lap was impossible, let along a fast one (I had been thinking my lap times were around 45 mins, turned out they were faster) But  I had set out to ride for 6 hours so that is what I was going to do I started my tenth lap steady but soon was being overtaken by people clearly trying to fit their last lap in, this spurred me on to do the same, I was delighted to finish at 5 hours 55 just getting my tenth lap in. I had to really dig deep for this last lap and was proud to have achieved it.

I lost time having to faff around with re-filling water bottles after I ran out of small ones; this is something I need to work out before the Trans Alp! I also found out that pretzels are no good as they suck all the moisture out of your mouth, new savoury snack hut begins!

Altogether I did 59.69 miles over 5 hours 55. My average heart rate was 149 and max was 180. I think what yesterday showed me is,  when I feel like there is nothing left in the tank its always worth having a deeper look, because I found the strength and speed to turn out another fast lap, as fast as my third lap of the day when I was at the beginning of my race.

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Thank you so much to Bike FixersBike Fixers for getting my bike ready for the race, thanks to Specialized for my amazing Era and to Grip Grab for the most comfortable gloves I’ve ever worn over 6 hours.

Lap Times:

  • Lap 1 00:33:31
  • Lap 2 00:33:56
  • Lap 3 00:34:31
  • Lap 4 00:35:25
  • Lap 5 00:35:43
  • Lap 6 00:36:04
  • Lap 7 00:36:41
  • Lap 8 00:37:48
  • Lap 9 00:37:02
  • Lap 10 00:34:19