Bertha and 100 mile TT

 Welsh 100 mile Time Trial Championship 2014

Last year I rode the 50 mile national Time Trial Championship in Abergavenny, and at the end I swore I would never, ever do it again. About 6 months later, and after signing up for Ironman Wales I decided that it would be a good idea to do another long Time Trial as part of my training in the lead up to Ironman. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the only long TT that I could do was the 100. I entered online, thinking I don’t actually have to do it. Aber01 My mum agreed to support me, and we drove up the night before, after checking the weather we decided not to camp. I booked the Premier Inn in Pontypool. My mum was still optimistic about the weather, thinking that it would rain overnight and then be clear for the morning. I was not so optimistic after checking my phone. At least it didn’t look windy!

Rain, and more rain

Rain, and more rain

At 5:30am the alarm went off, and I had a cup of tea, dressed and applied liberal amounts of Sudocrem and Hoo Ha glide to my posterior, (thanks girls for the tips!) Unfortuatley I forgot that I then had to sit in the car. The sudocrem had already seeped through, so I sat on my coat to protect my mums upholstery, ( must remember next time to apply cream at last minute!)

a magical combination

a magical combination

As we drove somberly towards the start in the torrential rain I had mixed feelings, I was really looking forward to doing the TT as I have never ridden 100miles before, but the weather was horrendous, and I could tell my mum was a bit worried, as she asked whether I would be riding along the dual carriageway, and if there would be cars on it. I was also worried that they would cancel, because as we got nearer to HQ there was not the usual hubbub of riders warming up and riding to the start.

We arrived at 6:30, (the first rider was off at 7:09am) I joined the huddle of freaks, sheltering outside HQ who had decided that come rain or shine they were riding 100 miles today. The organiser had not arrived yet so there was some speculation as to whether it was cancelled.  Suddenly the doors were opened and signing on sheets signed. I committed my signature to paper and organised myself, giving my 2 bottles to my mum and explaining where and when to wait. I went out to the car and slung my bag over my shoulder and felt a sharp pain across my back. Now my mind really started playing up, and as I rode to the start my power meter started dropping out, and I could hear a clicking on my front derailler. I was starting to wonder if the gods were trying to tell me something, but I moved my garmin to my handlebars, and realised that the clicking was only the cable knocking against the crank arm, and my back was fine in the TT position.

The ride

I set off behind Tanis Hand (ex Tenby Aces, and the only other woman to ride) The route is 3 laps of the dual carriageway up to Monmouth and back to Abergavenny. At the first turnaround I saw Tanis and she looked a way ahead of me so I just stuck to my plan. When I got out on the second lap I did a quick bit of maths and realised that I was going to be at the lay-by that I told my mum to wait at about 15 minutes before I told her to get there. Happily I spotted her car as I approached ( she likes to be early thankfully) and I stopped to fill up my aero bottle and grab the other bottle from her. I said I was feeling good and got on my way. The photographer was at the next lay-by as globules of snot, spit, and rain dribbled down my chin. I couldn’t really muster a smile!

SIS_6298

Next I saw Jill Coleman who cheered me on, I was averaging 20.8mph so was feeling amazing as I was aiming for 19-20mph. I sang a lovely rendition of Chesney Hawkes I am the one and only (where did that come from?!!) as I was overtaken by one of many men, and I had one of several manic laughing fits as I realised that, yes, I really was doing this, and doing a good time. I had done 50 miles in 2h20 which was faster than I did the 50 mile TT in last year. The rest of the second and third lap was a blur of feeling sorry for lonely, and sodden supporters holding out drinks bottles, marshals waving frantically and pointing, and looking forward to the tunnel near Monmouth for a couple of minutes shelter.

SIS_6119

On the second and third lap I started to pass a few people, including Tanis, and Jill told me that I was on the team now, as Paul had to pull out. About 20 miles from the end I started to watch my power dropping, and had to talk to myself a few times to keep focussed, the last few miles seemed the longest ever. I shouted my number out to the clapping timekeepers and with comedic timing the rain stopped and the sun started to come out.

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When I got back to HQ my mum told me that there was only 1 other woman who completed the race, so I jokingly said “I may be Welsh Champion then”, to which she replied “you are!” This seemed pretty funny to me and I got inside where Jill, Paul, Dan and Rob told me that we’d won the team prize too. 3 cups of tea later I had warmed up and was presented with my Championship cap, and we had a team photo.

The winning team

The winning team

Race Analysis

A word from the organiser

A word from the organiser

Garmin data here, full results here, more photo’s of bedraggled competitors here

If you are not interested in data look away now 😉

Out of 71 riders 26 started 7 DNF, and 39 DNS

My aim was to keep above 150 watts, and below 180, I had set some alerts on the garmin, but couldn’t really hear them. I also had an auto lap set for 25 miles, but again didn’t hear the first lap. My power did go down at the end, but in comparison to last years 50 mile TT it was not so extreme, so I was happy with my pacing. I could probably have held back more in the beginning, as my average power for each lap shows.

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Below is a comparison between last years 50 and this years 100, you can see how I started way too hard in the 50, and suffered about halfway through! This year I had also prepared myself psychologically and knew what to expect.

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100 mile TT 2014

 

Couldn't take it!

Couldn’t take it!

So overall, I was amazed with my result, I rode about 15-30 minutes quicker than I thought I would, so with some great performances under my belt I feel ready for Ironman Wales!

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Spain, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Asturias 2014

We have been to Asturias 3 times on holiday now, the area is lovely, and part of my reasoning to go back this year was that I knew a lot of routes that I could run or cycle without having to navigate too much. So it was less stressful for me in the run up to Ironman.

The area around us, Picos de europa

The area around us, Picos de europa

With limited time I have condensed the holiday into the good, the bad, and the ugly! (Its mostly good)

The good

  • Watching a fixie criterium at Gijon, (I was actually entered for this but then realised it was fixie only and didn’t have a bike, (didn’t stop me having a mad dash to find one, even though I have never ridden a track bike before! Maybe next year ;-))Patrick has done all the hard work with pictures here and a short video here 

 

  • A nice top end endurance ride around Cabrales getting a few QOM’s
My longest ride

My longest ride

  • Swimming in the sea, feeling more confident about donning my wetsuit and dodging beach goers to swim

 

Swim before watching the criterium

  • Great food, lots of sea creatures
crustaceans

crustaceans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Devons birthday, I managed to order a cake in my limited Spanish, and he requested “hiking in the mountains” as his birthday treat.
  • Too many more good things to mention, and I came back to do my best ever hill session, averaging an extra 4-5 Watts per interval, and on longer intervals too! A change is definitely as good as a rest!

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The Bad

  • Some dodgy fabes con almejas (clams and beans) at a sideria in Ribadasella, which had me up all night with stomach cramps, wondering if it would hinder my training :-/

The ugly

  • Our plumbing in the holiday let. After a day or 2 every time we flushed the toilet the contents came up in the bath. This coincided with the above (eurgh) it may have been Devon shoving half a toilet roll down there on the 2nd day, but I didn’t mention that. Luckily a man with a mop turned up after I reported it, and fixed the problem 🙂

Next up

100 mile Welsh championships on Sunday with wind and rain forecast, good to be home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Course weekend

This weekend was the Long Course weekend in Tenby. I entered this after my failed attempt at the Tour of Pembrokeshire 76 mile route, as I wanted to do a longish sportive before Ironman Wales. When I told Patrick that I had entered all 3 events he was a bit surprised, but then he decided to enter the Half Marathon on the Sunday. Luckily for us my mum was on hand to look after the kids so we could both run!

Tenby Harbour with swimmers waiting in the pen on the left hand side

Tenby Harbour with swimmers waiting in the pen on the left hand side

The Swim (2.4 miles) Garmin data here Results here

The swim is a 2 lap course and conditions were pretty perfect, swim starts are always a bit nerve racking, but I am getting more confident now. I have learned not to listen to the stories people tell about the start and just focus on what I’m doing. There were 2 men behind me chatting and saying how it would be a scrum to the first buoy. I decided I didn’t really want to listen to that conversation so moved away from them. It’s one of the things that irritates me when people perpetuate fear and anxiety to make themselves look good! It really isn’t that bad, and telling people how awful something is really doesn’t help anyone. The start was busy and I did get a couple of elbows in my goggles, but I was soon in clear space and feeling great. I stroked a few jellyfish, and was on my second lap. The pace at the end of the second lap around the last buoy picked up so I hitched a ride with a massive group, we were flying, and all scrambled out together.

My mum, surprised that she missed me come in!

My mum, surprised that she missed me come in!

The swim was a bit of a test for Ironman Wales. I was hoping to complete the swim in about 1 hour and 5 to 1 hour 10. I was very surprised, and on a bit of a high when I came out of the water in 57.28. Didn’t sleep very well that night!

The Wales sportive (70 miles) Garmin data here Results here

There is a choice of 40, 70, or 112 mile routes for the sportive. It follows the same route as the Ironman course. If you are doing 112 miles you do both the 40 and 70 mile loops. I chose to do 70 miles because I didn’t want to exhaust myself over the weekend and be unable to train the week after. I decided to park in New Hedges and cycle down to Tenby to avoid the chaos of parking in town. When I arrived I spotted Clair, and we had a quick hello, then I made my way down to the start. I was super early so decided to spend my emergency cash on a macchiato from the teeny tiny coffee van. At the start I shoved in next to Clair, she was meeting Tom (her other half) en route and he was going to pace her on the ride.

power surges at the beginning, then lower when I was in a pack, and dropping as I got tired

power surges at the beginning, then lower when I was in a pack, and dropping as I got tired

At this point I had a bit of a battle going on in my head. I had planned to try and stick to about 150-160 watts the whole way round, but I thought it also may be good to push a bit and see what I could do. When we started I thought I would try and stick with Clair, as it might be easier to have someone to ride with, but it became clear in the first half hour that they were going for it, and I decided to err on the side of caution and drop back! I was on my own then from Lamphey to Castlemartin, where I tried to hang on the back of another group I managed to stay with them until after Angle then got spat out the back. The rest of the ride I was solo, but it was good to see how hard I could push it. I was feeling pretty tired and when a few people passed me that I knew, it was nice to hear a bit of encouragement.

I averaged 156 watts on the course but, for Ironman, my pacing will be a lot different! I was happy with my time though, as I was aiming for about 4 and a half hours. Clair did an amazing time of 3 hours 55, there was no way I could have caught her! Fortunately she was still at the finish when I arrived and she very kindly gave me a lift back up the hill to New Hedges, (very grateful!)

I got home and was about to do my stretching when I had an overwhelming urge to have a sleep so I had a nap for an hour (luxury sleeping during the day :-))

P.S. I was glad of my delicious portables that I had brought! (short blog post about that here).

The Wales Half Marathon (13.1 miles) Garmin data here Results here

When I finished the bike I said I would jog the run on Sunday. Patrick had entered too, and was also planning on taking it steady. The run starts in Pembroke, and you run to Tenby, after a bit of discussion we had decided to take the train from Narberth. When we stopped in Tenby quite a few other runners got on, and we arrived in time to march up the high street with the band to the start. The only problem with the train, was that I had change jangling in my back pocket the whole way to Tenby! (extra weight too ;-))

Feeling good

Feeling good

We were off and I kept an eye on my heart rate, as I know how easy it is to start following people. I kept a steady 152 average which is upper endurance for me ,probably a bit faster than I should have gone, but I was feeling pretty relaxed and strong. I had to tell myself to slow down a few times and let people go that I normally would have chased!

Taking it steady

Taking it steady

Anyway I was very happy with my time, I was 2nd in my age category, and not too exhausted afterwards. Patrick came in 4 minutes after me and I was there to watch his sprint finish, very impressive on only a couple of runs a week! We then headed down to the beach for a BBQ with the boys.

The weekend was fantastic, support on the course is amazing, and there is such a good atmosphere everywhere. The weather was pretty good, and I had a successful testing weekend which will have benefitted my training a lot. No posts for a while now as we’re off to Asturias for a couple of weeks, looking forward to riding in the Picos!

 

 

 

 

An unexpected result

An easy week

After last weeks mini holiday, it was back to it. Luckily I had an easy week planned as there was the washing, shopping, and general catch up that you need after going away. I had also entered Pembrokeshire coast Triathlon at Broadhaven at the weekend so it meant I would have a bit of a rest before the race.

I had a great bike session on Tuesday. I had been thinking on my previous long ride that I tend to get a bit lazy towards the end of a ride and start dropping the watts, so when I was at the side of the road checking my bike for creaks, and a man flew past asking if I was OK I thought I would see if I could catch him!

I was near the end of my ride so it was ideal for me to push a bit more than usual. It became apparent that I was catching him on the ups and then he was pulling away slightly on the downs. I managed to reel him in after Yerbeston, on the Ironman course, we got chatting and it was someone whose name I had seen on strava (Dave Swan if you’re curious!) I turned off at Molleston and left him to complete the rest of the Ironman loop.

You can see my increase in power at about 2 and a half hours in!

You can see my increase in power at about 2 and a half hours in!

Still getting the power dropouts, but have sent my power meter back, again…I may write a post about that bit of kit someday! Had a long run on Thursday and was surprised to see that my running has improved again!

A similar run last year and my run this week

A similar run last year and my run this week

Cancelled my swim session on Friday, as I was feeling a bit fed up with the pool and I didn’t want to do another session for the sake of it. On Saturday I raced Broadhaven and won! That was a real surprise, I knocked 5 minutes of my previous time, so I was obviously very pleased with that! Full race report is here.

Comparison between the years

Comparison between the years

I still need to do some work on programming myself to believe that I am a strong swimmer, as it was always my weak sport, so, in my subconscious, I still think I am not good, but the last 2 races I have done I have had pretty good swim times. Must keep that in mind 🙂

Look away now if you don’t want to read about hormones, and periods!

One thing men don’t have to worry about too much is how their hormones affect them during races, they pretty much have the same cycle of hormones every day ( high testosterone in the morning, which drops off during the day and is lowest in the evening) This is also affected by their actions, e.g. racing will produce a rise in testosterone, read more about this here.

Women, as you will know have varying hormones throughout the month, so at times all we really want to do is sleep all the time, when at other times of the month we are outgoing and confident, this corresponds to our cycle. I have been doing a bit of research on this, as I find it quite interesting. There is a lot more detail on hormone horoscope, which I find really helps me to deal with moods and how I feel certain times of the month!

The female cycle

The female cycle

The reason I am writing about this is that my period was due on the week of Broadhaven and all week I was worrying about when it would start, and whether I would have to deal with it on race day. I looked at a couple of forums, and found a post by a man who said don’t worry about it, chances are nobody will care, or notice, just wear some black shorts and get on with it. This relaxed me quite a bit, and I also mentioned to Patrick the night before, that the last time I had my period on a race I won!

I didn’t get my period until after the race but I still find it really interesting, as I am about a kilo heavier in the week before I start my period, so you would think that my performance would be worse. You would also think that there would be loads of interesting research on this, but I’m not sure if there is or where to find it. I did read Victoria Pendleton’s book and she mentioned that she always seemed to have her period on competition days. Maybe its time we started taking it into consideration, it is a massive part of women’s lives, but seems like people don’t really want to talk about it, although with online forums maybe people are starting to discuss more topics like this.

I did find some useful information here, which I recommend to anyone interested in how hormones affect your training and performance.

Jet setting

Last week was a busy one with the 4 up Time trial on Thursday evening and a wedding in Jersey at the weekend.

4 up TT

The 4 up time trail was on Thursday evening an hour and a half away, so we left Pembrokeshire at about 4pm and were back home at about 10.30pm, which is a late night for me! Our team consisted of Mel, Clair, Kirsty, and myself, and we had practised a couple of times.

I had never done a Time trial like this before, but it was great fun. The first part of the course is mostly down and I think the wind was behind us. I was checking my speed and we averaged about 27.5 mph on that stretch, so I was feeling pretty good. As we approached the turn of I was at the front, and I didn’t want to peel of at the junction, so I stayed at the front for a bit longer than I would have liked and I could feel it on the way back, as I was watching our average speed drop going uphill and into the wind!

spot when I was on the front!

spot when I was on the front!

It is amazing how much easier it is at the back drafting, as you can see from the power graph above. At the beginning I was desperate to get on the front, but by the end I was not looking forward to my turn so much! We beat the women’s Velo’s time by about 4 minutes so everyone was pleased with that.

Results are here, we were the 3rd women’s team.

Checking the times

Checking the times

Jersey wedding

On Friday we flew to Jersey for one of my husband’s friends wedding, we arrived there for a bbq overlooking the beach, the weather was fantastic, and it felt like we were on a holiday abroad, (I suppose Jersey is abroad!) On Saturday before the wedding Patrick and I went for a swim around the headland, although I think we went for a bit too long, as we didn’t warm up until we got back to the hotel, even though the sun was out!

After our swim

After our swim

We then went out for a run, I had planned to do 3 minute anaerobic intervals, and I managed to persuade Patrick to do the same, I went a lot faster than I would have on my own, as I could hear him breathing down my neck!! So I think he will be on fine form for the Long weekend half marathon, and will probably beat me!

Ouch!

Ouch!

Anyway I’ll leave you with a picture of me and a postcard that we found in the pub!

Obviously true!

Obviously true!

 

 

 

Easy week and racing

Half term

The days leading up to Half Outlaw I learned a few more things about what I end up doing before races.

  1. Made sure all the lawn was mowed before we went away.
  2. Had a slight cleaning binge.
  3. Decided to make bread and pizza on the day that we left.
Baking, baking, baking...

Baking, baking, baking…

So expect more baked creations before Ironman Wales, who knows what we’ll end up with, but it was nice to have bread in the freezer when we got home 😉

It was great that it was half term during the same week as Half Outlaw, as it meant we could go and stay a few days in Nottingham, and revisit my old stomping ground! I met up with a friend and took the boys round the castle, and had some lovely meals out (we’ll not include the Pizza Express one, where my vegetarian lasagne was not, and my friends baked pasta was more burnt).

Coffee and cake at the pudding pantry.

Coffee and cake at the pudding pantry.

I did have a good few days though and felt a lot more relaxed than I did at Wimbleball, (probably due to me not being woken up by ringing bells every 15 minutes!) I had a great race, which you can read about in my race report which is here.

We got home at about 9pm on Sunday with 2 very tired boys and a mess to tidy up the next day

Just some of the aftermath.

Just some of the aftermath.

 

 

1 week to go :-)

Race plan

I wrote my race plan for Half Outlaw this week, and felt pretty excited about it. I haven’t done the run training that I would like to, but I’m hoping my bike fitness will carry me through. I have had a few good paced runs recently so I reckon I will still be able to get my planned time goal. It’s getting to that time when I start doing displacement anxiety tasks, like writing more and more lists, and colour coding them :-p

Organised chaos

Organised chaos

I bought the book The Chimp Paradox, written by Dr Steve Peters, who I had read about in Victoria Pendleton’s autobiography. It came up on my amazon recommendations (dangerous, those are!) since it arrived I haven’t had a look in, as Patrick has hijacked it, and keeps quoting me parts of it (maybe I won’t need to read it!) Apparently its OK to make lists, phew 😉

Sea swimming

I’m aiming to get out for a sea swim once a week now the weather has warmed up. I have so far been from Saundersfoot towards Wisemans bridge and back, and Amroth, where I had a lot of help from the tide on the way back…lovely, although I did have a dream about jellyfish the night before.

Saundersfoot in the morning

Saundersfoot in the morning

Preseli Beast (beast bach)

Full Results here

I had a great race at the “Beast Bach”. I was 2nd female overall, and also got a trophy for being first local female. Race report here. The next day I went out to practise for the 4 up time trial in 3 weeks time, we rode for a couple of hours, each taking turns at the front, my legs can really feel it now, ouch…time to recover before next Sunday I think!

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Dyfi Enduro 2014, feeling tired.

Dyfi Enduro 2014

The Bank Holiday weekend was our annual trip to the Dyfi Enduro. I didn’t manage to take the camera, as I had enough to worry about, but I got a few snaps. There is a good write up of the event here, and my race report is here, I took it steady and was quite pleased that I was 2nd female in the distance that I did. (I did the shorter loop) Afterwards I also noticed that my neck, shoulders and back were not so stiff as usual, must be due to the strength and conditioning work that I have included in my training this year, its amazing what a few press ups will do. However I’m feeling the effects of staying up late, camping, and off roading, so have adapted my training for the week!

Time and result

Time and result

Comparison between this year and last years data

Comparison between this year and last years data

Back to it

I tried to do a tempo run on Tuesday but my legs were not feeling it, so I eased off and cancelled my swim plan hoping for a better session on Wednesday. My swim on Wednesday was pretty lethargic too!

If you are interested heres the data!

If you are interested heres the data!

My plan is for quality workouts, so I missed my long ride and opted for a shorter turbo session with focussed intervals instead, I spent most of the morning (when I should have been on the turbo) faffing about with the computer.

I decided to do a job that I had been putting off instead and went up to get an old bikes bottom bracket removed at AWP engineering. I watched two men struggle with my seat post for about half an hour, which was quite interesting, then got home to do my turbo, finally. I’m quite looking forward to doing up the bike though, its slowly getting there!

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Work in progress

The Preseli Beast

I’m very excited to have entered The Preseli Beast, well the beast bach anyway, I had a look at this race last year and thought it looked fun, but I haven’t been doing the run mileage to be able to do the long one, and I would also probably set myself up for an injury again! Will be a good run though 🙂

Long time no posts

Easter holidays

Easter has been a busy time, with visitors staying over both weekends, and a lot of furniture being delivered, which is now in boxes waiting to be assembled! I haven’t had any time to do anything except train and entertain the kids, now they are back at school I should be able to get back to some sort of routine.

A lot of work to be done..

A lot of work to be done..

First time trial of the year

I did the Neyland 10 , and was fairly pleased with my effort. Unfortunately I had a mechanical, my chain came off and got jammed against the frame, so I spent nearly 2 minutes on the verge wrestling with it and pulling paint off my frame :-s This meant my time wasn’t great but my power output was about the same as last year and I had a VI (variability index) of 1, which I was pretty pleased with. This means that I didn’t surge in power too much and kept a steady pace throughout. If you are interested in the full definition, then a lot of useful information is here

Trianing peaks data

Trianing peaks data

The Tour of Pembrokeshire

My friend Rachel and I planned to do the tour of Pembrokeshire 75 mile route. She arrived on Friday evening with her family, to lovely weather, we even ate outside. I had seen the forecast for Saturday, but was hoping for a change, it does do that sometimes, anyway it was pretty awful, I was quite jealous of the husbands still in bed when we left, with children still sleeping!!

We started out and agreed that if it didn’t improve then we would do the 50 mile route instead. At the feed station we decided we should cut it short, it was windy and wet so we couldn’t even chat! So we arrived back in St Davids to a welcome pork roll, and warm cafe, then went home to takeaway and Prosecco . I attempted to make a video with Patrick’s “go pro” the battery ran out way before the end but I managed to get a small amount of footage. which is here.

The Tour of Pembrokeshire

Next weekend The Dyfi Enduro…

 

 

 

 

Ill again :-(

Meh

Just when I thought I was getting somewhere I caught a cold again. I was coughing all last week, feeling crap. I have adjusted my training again, so I won’t be hitting the targets for Half Outlaw. I’ll just have to use it as a practice race, I haven’t had the run volume or consistency in training that I would have wanted so we’ll see what happens. I am building up my running very slowly. Last week I did a 40 minute and 30 minute run, so not too bad! The 40 minute was another risk assessment for run club. Is dog poo a hazard?

Risk assessing again!

Risk assessing again!

Time Trial bike fit

I went back to see Andy at Cranc Cyclesports to get my Trek fitted properly. Again I was really pleased with the results. I went out after recovering from the cold and was comfortable. There was no pain in my shoulders or back, as there has been in the past. You can see why on the pictures below too!

Retul fit at Cranc cyclesports

Retul fit at Cranc cyclesports

Really enjoyed being out on the bike after a week off, the positive of that was I managed to do a bit of bike maintenance that I have been putting off for a while on my mountain bike. I was so excited at the results that I went off road for the first time in ages. I thought that I had better have at least 1 off road ride before the Dyfi Enduro, which is in 4 weeks, Mountain bikes are so heavy!!

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First ride in new position on Time Trial bike

Even managed a couple of QOM's off road, not much to write home about though!!

Even managed a couple of QOM’s off road, not much to write home about though!!

 

 

 

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