Tag: cycling

Those damn hills

I spent a large part of my weekend in the saddle with my friend Emma as part of our training for the London to Brighton bike ride that we are doing in just over 2 months.

Saturday involved a fairly gentle 15 mile ride along some of the Rea Valley Route and stopped at the half way point for a cup of coffee and some time to warm up by the wood burner in the cafe.

Sunday was a bit more of a challenge as we had decided to cycle from Emma’s house in South Birmingham to Coventry (arriving in time for lunch) According to the app we had, it found a route that was 22 miles long and took us via Solihull/Shirley and then joined up with the same route we had ridden as part of the Starley Sportive that we did in February.

We managed it in 3.5 hours which I was pretty impressed with. Since my last ride, I’ve auired a pair of cycling gloves and they really helped a lot with reducing the pain in the palms of my hands. The next item on my to ppurchase list will be a wind proof jacket because I ended up cycling with a sports bra, wicking t-shirt and standard hoodie on yesterday and by the end of the ride I was really feeling the cold in my chest and it took me a while to warm up.

(Emma has a super fancy fitbit that tracked our ride/time and various other things)

The hills then – we tackled a few on both days with varying degrees of success. I did feel much better about them than I did on the Sportive though – during that, I just felt utterly defeated by them before I even started. I’ve been reading a bit about the London to Brighton route. This blog in particular has been useful and over the weekend I tried out a few of the techniques for hills that they mentioned. The most helpful for me was just to keep setting myself micro goals – like aiming for a spot a few meters ahead, then picking another as soon as I reaching it and just repeating this until I hit the peak and then I would either cruise down the incline on the other side (if there was one) or stop, take in the scenery and have a few big swigs of water. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do in the next few months around fitness, speed and my recovery times when I hit a hard patch but being able to do better on the hills this time did make me feel a bit better.

When we got back to Coventry we headed straight for the Golden Cross to try out their new vegan menu as our post cycle reward. Here are the obligatory “what I ate” pictures


I had a vegan southern fried chicken (made from jackfruit) with the most delicious chunky chips and coleslaw, followed by banana, rum and raisin crumble with ice cream.

So what did I learn on these rides?

1. I love cycling on canal tow paths – more of this on my upcoming training please
2. To a certain extent at least – hills are a state of mind.
3. You shouldn’t need to have ALL the fancy kit to be a cyclist but some things really do help such as padded shorts and padded gloves
4. Water has never tasted so good as when it’s been glugged down at the top of a hill climb

Brand new

(I had no idea until today that this video was directed by John Cameron Mitchell – who wrote, directed and starred in one of my all time favourite films – Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as the fantastic film – Shortbus)

Anyway, hello…
I haven’t written here in ages. I let January and February zip past without even stopping to write down a single goal for the year. I guess this was for a few reasons. A) I found January (and some of February) a bit of a slog in terms of physical and mental health and it was as much as I could do to get up and function in a minimal way, let alone think much about how to thrive B) I was still very much trying to get to grips with my new(ish) job & I think this will continue for a while.

I miss writing though. No-one really reads this blog, but I like the idea of someone stumbling across it one day & relating to something they have read.

So aside from work, what have I been up to?

I took part in my first sportive a few weeks ago which was 28 miles. My official time was 04:37:23 which I am pleased with considering I’d never cycled anywhere near that far in one day (& pretty much in one go) beforehand. I also had a mishap with my chain coming off around 2 miles in and I managed to get the chain back on but I then cycled about 10 miles on the wrong gear set and made things much harder for myself in terms of the energy I was having to expend to go anywhere.

Other things I am up to include obsessing over Schitt’s Creek (particularly David & Patrick), attending my first urban sketching event in Coventry, knitting some socks, reading & slowly getting back into doing some writing for what I hope will become a new zine.

I’ve also been trying to ease myself back into cooking more from scratch (rather than just eating stuff out of the freezer that I shove in the oven). I brought the Green Roasting Tin cookbook by Rukmini Iyer after seeing many people recommend it on twitter. So far I’ve only made the orzo and tomato pasta but I really like it. I brought sweet potato and a butternut squash yesterday so I can hopefully try something else this week.

Right, I think that’s it for now before I forget to post this.

Coventry Skyride 2016 – or that time I got to cycle around the Coventry ringroad

Yesterday I took part in the Coventry 2016 Skyride with my partner Joe and our friend Cait. Last year I happened to be meeting a friend in town on the day of the ride but I didn’t know much about it other than seeing lots of people wandering around in bright yellow cycling bibs.

We heart cycling text by the Godiva Statue

We really lucked out in terms of weather – blue skies, hardly any cloud but a decent amount of breeze while riding. I still didn’t manage to drink enough water though which left me feeling pretty dehydrated.

The route started at Broadgate in Coventry which is right in the centre of the city. From there, it took us round by the cathedral and some of the Coventry university buildings before leading out of the city centre to Fargo village where we had to dismount and walk through before hopping back on to cruise back into town (via a diversion through one of the Coventry university buildings which was one of my favourite parts) and then TO THE RING ROAD!

I think the idea of getting to ride around the entire ring road without having to avoid cars or be choked with fumes was part of the draw to this ride for me. As someone who doesn’t drive, I rarely go on the ring road at all so this was a chance for me to really explore the views of the city from up high.

Motor vehicles were still allowed to drive clockwise around the road, but the anti-clockwise side was given over to bikes only from 11am-3pm. There was a sprint section where people could check out their timings but I just focused on enjoying riding on such a clear wide surface.


I don’t ride my bike very often so I was a little worried about getting round the course. In the end we rode around twice in total (although skipped the Fargo diversion the second time) I probably could have gone again but I was mindful that I needed to cycle/walk my bike home afterwards as well (and that that part of my journey started with a hill).

I haven’t ever been a fan of Sky and I think Rupert Murdoch is utter scum so I was a bit leery of attending an event that was so heavily “Sky” branded. Credit where credit is due though – the event was really well run, the signposting and marshalling were great. There were lots of other sponsors/partners too like Halfords (who pumped up both my slightly flat tyres for me before the ride) the local Council and British Cycling. I hope the council puts on some more things like this.

I liked how alternatives to different parts of the route were offered and it was great to see such a diverse crowd taking parts. There were lots of families with young kids riding, groups of teenagers, serious looking cyclist who zipped past me on the ring road with their proper gear and speedy bikes. I loved seeing so many different body sizes taking part too. I wasn’t made to feel too fat to ride or like it wasn’t an event that I wasn’t welcome at just because I wasn’t able to race around the course.

It is rumored to have been the last ride in Coventry of its kind but equally it may just be that it’s the last one under the current sponsorship. I’m really glad I did it because it showed me a different perspective of the city I’ve called home for almost 5 years. If it does happen again, I’ll be there!