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I’ve done it – I have entered a triathlon!!!! The seed was sewn after many rides chatting about triathlons, biathlons, aqua bikes and so on by a friend, a gentle giant with large hands on my shoulders willing me on to press the “Enter Now” button while offering full encouragement, enthusiasm and who swears blind that once I have done one triathlon I will be hooked. After sharing my news with another friend, we both started laughing (with me I hope), imagining me in a wetsuit, peg on my nose, with snorkel and flippers sliding into shallow end of an indoor pool, I can swim, I can handstand on the bottom of the pool, I can (intentionally) belly flop…… or dive but I can’t front crawl and breathe under water at the same time with correct technique …in fact I am a self-confessed female that can’t multitask!! But jokes aside I’ve done it now and I need to work on my confidence, getting used to putting my head under water while swimming and so coached swim lessons and open water sessions are on the cards. Despite my woes I am really looking forward to doing this open lake event at Tallington Lakes in June. The tri-wet suit has arrived, I have jumped about pummelling myself into it and walked about the house making sure that I can move my arms and legs freely and have been looking adoringly at the new Primal Axia Elite custom tri suits.
Not only have I booked myself to do the triathlon I have booked another first, being the first of the 2018 official sportives riding as a Primal Ambassador at the end of March in the Velo29 Cheshire Cat event in collaboration with Primal who are the 2018 kit sponsors. Despite the geographic of where I live, the elevations of the 50-mile route do not look too bad so it has been a focus of mine to train where possible along some of the undulating routes that I had ridden in 2017 local to me. When that hasn’t been an option I have come to the conclusion that despite my whinging if I can’t beat the fen headwinds then I need to use them to my advantage and make the resistance my friend and this conclusion was summed up by my Chatteris Cycling Club ride buddy after a 40-mile group ride titling it “strangely satisfying”. Despite the sun shining, which makes everything seem better I had volunteered to ride lead on a 30-mile beginners group. Arriving at our club meeting point the only riders to brave the chill were the intermediate group and with no beginners to take out I pondered on doing a solo ride for some “me time” but with just a coffee for breakfast and a smidgen of persuasion, I joined 10 of the guys for the ride powered by a banana from Fred. I had layered up for the beginner’s ride with my Primal Thermal Onyx Tights, Chime Blue Heavyweight Jersey, Mesh Base Layer and my Onyx Wind Vest, hiding underneath; my Knock Out Socks, and I was pretty warm. Heading out on my CGR bike I wasn’t going to be breaking any records on it but with a tail wind out I had managed to keep the pace up until around mile 15 when we turned into a strong cross head wind blowing over the open landscape for the next 25 miles. Despite feeling like I was pedalling flat out at 10 miles an hour it was encouragement of the group towards each other that made it a great fun and it was also nice to see a few guys who I hadn’t seen for a while.
Swapping the bike over to the Cannondale the following week was a 60-mile group mass ride to a village west of Cambridgeshire to support our club ride buddy Simon and his LongLegTours pop up coffee and cake stop. With hundreds of other cyclists from clubs as far away as Sudbury in Suffolk riding the distance to Waresley’s village hall on the hill it was a brilliant sight to see so many cycles lined up against the brick walls and the hall full of men, women and a few kids supporting the event, eating cake and chatting. Over the last few pop-up stops I have seen a few riders who I keep bumping in to, including one from back in November during the Cool Cambridge and Evans Ride It events, between us cyclists it becomes a very small world. Heading back through the Cambridgeshire countryside took us over some great “drag ups” and all was going well until I started to feel my left quad knock at the door and let me know it was there, I could feel it starting to twitch, with lots of apologising to those riding behind me, I just tried to turn the pedals up the hills and do what I could. I felt really frustrated, something was not right here. I had changed my seat on my bike but somehow, I was slightly over stretching…. #sabotage ha!
The arrival of my new Primal Theta Helix Bibs and Jersey had arrived the next day along with a new Onyx Wind Vest. The postman had dropped it over the back gate but unknowingly to him Roo pup was in the garden and had been eyeing it up, but thanks to the cat scanning her beady eyes over Roo, she hadn’t the guts to venture any closure to the package until the cat wondered off. With one swoop she had carried it like a puppy in it mothers mouth to her sunny spot in the garden investigating the package, meanwhile Matt captured the moment on the dog cam just in time to retrieve it. PHEW!!!! So, having sorted the seat issue, I was desperate to go for a mid-week afternoon ride just to try this new kit out. However, responsibilities at home meant I wouldn’t be able to ride until the weekend. While dropping my car off at the garage Saturday morning I spotted groups of cyclists heading towards Peterborough for the No Excuses Ride and I was feeling pretty envious. Arriving back home, the sun was out, it was about 8 degrees and feeling warm, so I took the opportunity to get the bike ready and put on my new kit, teaming the Theta Helix Jersey and Onyx Wind Vest with the La Reina Arm Warmers, Theta Helix bib shorts with my Floral Explosion Socks... and yarp I was braving the bare legs in February. It was one of those eureka moments that felt amazing. Riding out into the sunshine felt great, I had fantastic performing kit, lights on, seat adjusted and a great route to ride. All was going well until two near misses with two cars trying to overtake me on a dip, causing me to pull hard on the brakes and avoid hitting anything in my path while the oncoming vehicles were swerving and pressing their horns to avoid the two impatient and erratic drivers. A lucky escape but one that left me seething. Despite the encounter and being heightened to my surroundings I was soon distracted by the elevations on the route and the annoyance of a piece of wholegrain from my sandwich caught in my teeth. 40 hilly miles complete I arrived home with a slight hint of a leg tan despite applying the sunscreen.
One thing that frustrates me though after the new year is when things just don’t click into place (which is usually my left cleat) from the lack of consistent riding during the winter months. Over the last few rides, its not the distance that has been an issue but the reduced stamina when it comes to power and I feel I have lost a bit of oomph! The work on the turbo has been beneficial but I need to push myself out of the comfort zone. With the Beast from the East arriving and the weather turning to snow again. Wattbike sessions and cyclone classes may be the answer to push me in a group session. Up until last year I had been in a continuation of marathon training having run in 2016 and 2017 in The Virgin London Marathon, I had been coaching, training and playing in Sunday league women’s football, and I was cycling but even so, nothing matches the fitness of ride/run day without consistency, so now that the running has reduced in distance and football is off the menu, much of my planning for 2018 is going to be working harder behind the scenes on my 2018 goals especially now that I have entered into the triathlon. I have to also remind myself that the oomph is not lost and with pushing my boundaries a bit more it will come back in no time. It might also help if I had a new summer bike ha! Either way, keeping the pedals turning, and keeping my goals in focus, each ride I do can only make me stronger and until then I just need to try, try and tri again.
Until next time ride safe and wear Primal.