Cycling around the Isle of Mull

Our holiday started as all good British holidays should – stuck in traffic on the A1. Nine hours after leaving my mum’s on the south coast, we finally made it to Northumberland for the start of our northern cycling holiday. The first cycle was 25 miles from Prudhoe to Hexham and back – a great little circuit for stretching out the legs, nothing too challenging as we whizzed along country lanes between the sheep and the cows, and then heads down and legs pumping along a long straight flat back from Hexham.

Our next cycle was two days later on the Isle of Mull – the main purpose of the holiday was this 80 mile cycle around the island, the furthest both James and I had cycled. We were staying in the Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, a 10 minute or so walk from the ferry port in Craignure. We woke up at 8 and devoured the hotel’s breakfast (I had a huge bowl of Scottish porridge with honey followed by eggs florentine – hoping that spinach would give the Popeye effect to my legs!) before setting out on the bikes. I looked pretty comical with a sandwich, banana and chocolate bar stuffed into my jersey, my jacket around my waist containing several gels – always good to be prepared!

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We cycled south from Craignure, immediately feeling the effects of an unanticipated headwind. Luckily we were soon to take a right away from it but I knew it would come back to bite us at the end!

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The first part of the cycle saw a gradual climb as we traversed the southern side of the island, past the Inverluss mussel farm (fantastic mussels) and up into the hills – heather on either side, waterfalls tumbling down the hillside to three lochs on the left hand side. We seemed to be gaining height fast but the climb never felt too hard as it was made up of relatively short steepish sections followed by slight downhills before it was back up the next section of incline. But we must have climbed to quite a height as we then had a glorious swoop down straight roads, no need to pedal for almost fifteen minutes, literally (almost) flying along the road. I could not keep the smile off my face, it was incredible, beautiful, breath-taking cycling.

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We took a right turn signposted “Salen – scenic route” and immediately it was clear we were no longer on the main road taking tourists from Craignure to the ferry for Iona. The road surface deteriorated with grass showing through the Tarmac in the middle. But it was a lovely deserted road, right by the incredible blue sea with sheep grazing to either side of us. This road curved up and down, rarely flat but never steep, before a short, twisting and turning climb up the hillside.

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We stopped for a banana after almost two hours at a point where the road and hillside curved to the right before a steep downhill. Now we could feel the full force of the wind blowing down the hills and it almost blew my bike and I forward as I tried to take the banana out of my jersey. Quickly halved and gobbled down, we soared down the hillside, the road twisting and turning with the contours of the hill and the wind all the time giving us an extra boost from behind, while down to the left the land dropped away sharply to the sea.

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Next we had to contend with that headwind. Luckily not uphill, but it definitely felt like it as our speed dropped, we kept our heads down and just tried to keep pedalling whilst the wind did its worst to prevent us. It was a beautiful road, right beside the sea and numerous rocky beaches, with the majesty of Ben More to our right, but our enjoyment was definitely limited by the wind.

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Not soon enough, the road turned again and we were in the tree line – some houses here and we were much more sheltered as we cycled along a flat before a long shallow climb. Half way up the climb we stopped for lunch – a sandwich each on the side of the road. There are few, if any, places to stop for a quick lunch along the western side of the island, and no shops. Up to the top of the hill and I had to stop for several photos as the ocean lay glittering before us before it was downhill into the trees once more.

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We stopped before the bottom to fill up with water at a small b’n’b. As I opened the gate I was confronted by a white-haired lady with a very posh English accent, sat on the grass surrounded by yoghurt pots of different flavours, from which she was feeding a black cat with a spoon. She sternly directed me towards the burn to the side of her house and I smiled and scuttled away, apologising and thanking as much as possible. I dipped the bottles in the clear water as it bubbled over the rocks – it was deliciously clear and cold, exactly what was needed after beginning to ration my water.

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Filled up and hydrated, we set off again for the last big climb of the day. This was incredible – beginning within the cosy domesticity of the tree line with some ridiculously steep, sharp switchbacks (max gradient on the climb was 23.7%), before the road flattened out slightly, a few little swoops downhill to rest tired legs, and then on up the next few switchbacks. There was one long straight uphill portion, the monotony of which was broken up by some sheep sunbathing in the middle of the road and a farm with sheep dogs which gave me a fright as they dashed out towards my bike before their owners called them back. I’m not scared of dogs, but I am scared on my bike and for some reason I had a vision of them running through my spokes and sending me tumbling to the ground. Disaster averted, I continued on upwards.

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If this is the top, can we stop for a break?” I panted to James up on ahead – sadly it was not the top. From this point though we were well out of civilisation and in the rugged wilds of nature as the road curved it’s way through steep banks covered in heather, one switchback to the next, the sea still visible, sparkling away. It was impossible to get too lost in the suffering of my legs, all immediately forgotten by a glance at the beauty around me. Plus the fact that as I stood up in my pedals to round the switchbacks I could feel the force of the wind helping me along. The top was pretty barren, no animals or humans, just heather, a small Tor and the view down to the ocean. Time for half a flapjack between us and some windswept photos before soaring down the other side (my cycling vocabulary for going downhill is limited….) until the beautiful white sands of Calgary beach shone before us.

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No time for stopping though, we kept on until another hour had passed and then finished off the flapjack in a quiet village (meaning more than one house) beside a calm and protected creek, fishing boats bobbing on the water.

Soon after this we took the right turn towards Salen and away from Tobermory – to properly circumnavigate the island you would have to go through Tobermory but that makes the trip well over 100 miles and we didn’t feel quite ready for that!

Turning right the wind hit us – it would be our constant companion / foe for the rest of the cycle. The road was beautiful and wild, rolling through the hillside. We stopped at one point to allow a flock of sheep to be herded from one field to another, sheepdog snapping at their tails as they baaaa’ed their way across. We cycled past a guy in a bright yellow anorak and long tights, clearly struggling with the wind and admitting he had dressed for much colder weather. We attempted to give him a tow along to help him but he much preferred cycling up beside James for a chat, especially when they discovered they both came from small villages within ten minutes of each other in Northumberland. So we ‘enjoyed’ a nice leisurely cycle with the headwind rather than pushing our pace. At the main road on the other side of the island we turned right, said goodbye to our new friend at Salen and then pushed our way on home – James first pushing into the wind and protecting me from it. It didn’t feel much fun – a combination of the wind, knowing we were almost home, and the fact we were on a main road and so not enjoying the views we’d become accustomed to. We stopped in a layby to share a Twix for a final burst of energy and then set off again, battling into the wind, counting down the minutes until we were home. Whereupon we swung into the car park, gingerly got off our bikes, and enjoyed a cold drink and a freshly cooked scone laden with clotted cream before a relax in the jacuzzi – perfect!

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It was the most beautiful cycle I have ever done, so varied in scenery and road. Navigating was simple and the gradient was never overwhelmingly challenging, especially due to the rolling nature of the hills – small downhills breaking up the climbs. I would do this again in a heartbeat (once my knees have recovered) and would really recommend that you do too!

Weekly round up – driving and cycling

Okay well this week hasnt gone great due to my problems with burnout as I mentioned in my previous post…. And a hip injury that left me in pain when running and pissed off.

I managed 6 hours 40 mins including 3 full rest days! One attempt at running on Wednesday followed by lots of slow stretches, one day of cycle commuting, 2 gorgeous cycles in the English countryside of just under and just over 40km.

My weekend began early as I finished work on Thursday and drove down to mum’s on the south coast to drop off Oscar-cat. So the weekend began at 7am on Friday morning when mum and I set out to cycle the route of our triathlon in a few weeks time. I’ve done it once before, a year ago, and wanted to refresh my memory. It was a grey morning, slightly drizzly, but with the sun already visible behind the clouds and we quickly warmed up. We had a lovely cycle, zooming on the downhills, pushing it along some flats, cycling abreast and having a chat at other moments. By the time we were home we were starving and there was just time for poached eggs on toast before mum set off for work and I began the long drive up to Northumberland.

Not much more to say about that other than it was long and there was lots of traffic. I picked James up at Luton station so at least I had company for most of it. After 9 hours of driving we arrived at James’ parents house. I ate the lovely dinner his mum had made and promptly fell asleep on the sofa.

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Saturday we awoke bright and early to a shining sun and set out for a short 40k to Hexham and back. We zoomed along, marvelling at the beautiful countryside, the rolling hills, the sun sparkling on the Tyne, the huge black clouds rolling in……. Oh. Fifteen minutes of torrential rain and I was glad of my clear glasses and rain jacket. The sun quickly came out again to dry us off just as we finished our cycle and I went for a short 10 minute brick run around the block – an incredibly hilly block including one ginormous hill that I made myself run all the way up! A few twinges from the hip but nothing too bad so I was happy.

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Another lovely dinner Saturday evening with James’ family including his brother and sister-in-law – lots of wine was drunk and we finished the night discussing our plans for the zombie apocalypse. Joe is training for Kona this October so I was trying to get some tips! 

Sunday was another day mainly in the car, up to Oban on the west coast of Scotland. It was a lovely drive, the first half on an almost empty motorway, carving it’s way through the purple hills of Scotland, and then we were on a small winding road that twisted it’s way along the banks of Loch Lomond and numerous other small lochs and villages. Oban is a very pretty town but we didn’t see much of it as we were straight on the ferry over to the Isle of Mull – a gorgeous journey in the bright sunshine amongst the rugged hills, peninsulas and islands of Western Scotland.

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Once settled into the hotel I went for a 30 min run along the footpaths by the sea – didn’t get quite as far as I wanted to due to clambering up and down rocks and feet sinking into the mossy ground… And taking selfies and marvelling at how beautiful the views were. Most incredible place for a run and no hip pain! Yay!

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Burn out

Little blogging has been going on this week because I was feeling really burnt out – little blogging and little exercise. I saw the Tri-Talk Tuesdays subject was burnout and couldn’t even get up the motivation to join in…. So this is quite late! I have also been soaking up the advice on Courtney and Cynthia’s blogs amongst the other Tri-Talk bloggers.

Burn out for me took two forms: 
1) no motivation 
2) no energy

Now I don’t have to get up early to get my training in. In order to cycle to work and do an hours workout before work starts, I just have to get out of bed at 7. I know that’s not early. I think it’s ridiculous that sometimes I can’t drag myself out of bed until 8 and even that feels hard. Especially when my lights are out by 10.30 every night. At least 9 hours sleep on a weeknight?! But recently when my alarm goes off at 7 I have been fast asleep and my eyes have been so heavy….. No getting up has been happening and I have just fallen straight back asleep.

Add the no motivation to the exhaustion. Normally when I miss a few mornings at the beginning of the week, by Wednesday I am raring to go, really missing it. Not so the last few weeks. I just cannot be bothered. I am fed up. I don’t care about triathlon, I can’t wait for it to be over so I can not swimbikerun quite so much and quite so rigidly. This isn’t helped by a hip injury that has left me scared of running. One fantastic long run followed by a short run that after five minutes has me limping and cursing and turning round to walk home. The fact I’ve barely run in the last month (4 runs so far this August!) was making me worried about the triathlon and therefore not wanting to train. Also, I did a 12 week training programme before my first tri this year in May, had two weeks off and then was straight into the next 12 week programme for this one. It’s been a lot and perhaps my training hasnt been as great and as varied as it could have been.

So lots of doubts, no motivation, no energy and an injury. 

But I think I’m starting to come out of the slump now so I will stop moaning. For me what helped was readjusting my goals – not having a time goal for the swim and just remembering that at the beginning of the year I could barely swim 20m, let alone 1500m. Remembering that I did the same tri last year at sprint distance – the same cycle route, and that my time was 1 hour 10 (yup, for 21km! I was slow…..) and so my new aim is just to make sure my speed over the oly is less than double that. Any gains will show how far I’ve come in a year, I don’t need to be “fast”.  And then just seeing what happens to my hip on the run and hoping for a sub-1 hour 10k. I will run faster and stronger on rested, injury-free legs. I will be absolutely fine. 

And now for a weeks holiday cycling in Scotland! The last week of training before taper week will involve lots of lovely long cycles, gradually building slow, longish runs, swims when I get the chance. Perfect.

Weekly round-up – enjoying training and being sensible

Not to sound smug or anything but I was really pleased with myself this week. Not because I hit many (any) PBs, maxed a number of workouts, or anything like that …. but because I was sensible… and I enjoyed myself. Today I realised that I vary in my thinking from “must train every spare minute and never miss a workout” (despite still missing them) to “I’m not a pro, triathlon is something fun in my life that I do as well as lots of other stuff“. I had been a bit caught up in trying to get ‘good times’ on 7th September and and forgotten that this is my first Olympic distance tri so really I should just concentrate on getting round and ENJOYING MYSELF. And I nearly brought all that to an end by getting a hip injury and then insisting on trying to run on it. So this week I was sensible and it paid off. Yay, go me!

So I ended up with 11 hours of training – a pretty good showing! That was made up of:

- 3 days cycle commuting. Getting these in is fantastic for my bike handling and general confidence on the bike even if it’s not ‘training’ as such due to all the traffic lights, cars, pedestrians etc.
– 1 cycle threshold workout (the one I blogged about here)
– 1 pool swim.
– 1 lower body strength session. I’d stopped these to focus on speed work closer to my tri but that seemed to just result in injury so back to the strength sessions for now…..
– 1 yoga class
– 1 30 minute session of various running exercises and stretches. Think running mans, one legged squats, standing on one of those wobbly balance things for as long as possible without falling off.
– 1 open water swim session
– 1 afternoon at home doing various running exercises and 30 mins of yoga… AND
– ONE LONG RUN! More on that later :)

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That is ridiculously varied and I think that’s why I liked it. I have to remember that before January this year I did NO exercise. Before my first tri I went to the gym twice a week for a few weeks and tried the odd run and that was it. My average hours a week over 2013 probably barely reached one hour. My body isn’t used to it! Lots of years to come to build up….. Now for my weekend!

Saturday morning I jumped (dragged myself) out of bed, sleepily put on my swim suit and gobbled down some overnight oats. I’ve started making these using a recipe from twinsintrainers and they are fab. Hopped in my car and drove to Ham Lake, listening to LBC debate whether we should send soldiers to Iraq (my main thoughts, thank god I don’t have to decide this). Had a bit of a panic when I got to Ham Lake. The website had showed the starting time at 8am, half an hour later than normal. Yay, lie in! I thought, and didn’t check… turned out it was meant to start at 7.30am as planned but luckily lots of others were the same as me and so the session just ran longer for those who arrived at 7.30. For the first time all summer the lake gave me a bit of a shock and panicky breathing when I put my head in – significantly colder than a few weeks ago. We had a fantastic session which I blogged about here, leaving me feeling supremely confident – not about what time I’ll get in September but that I will manage to swim a distance that was incomprehensible to me at the beginning of this year.

Post-swim, I jumped back in my car and drove to Richmond Park. I had a gel and sat in my car playing solitaire and listening to LBC get outraged at the fact that new words are being added to the Oxford English Dictionary (apparently this is dumbing down, my thoughts: that’s probably what people thought about Shakespeare when he invented new words in his plays. Just because they’re new doesn’t mean they’re stupid). This was all me putting off getting out of my car and actually going for a run. On top of that I had forgotten my headphones in my sleepiness and so would have to do my first ever run without headphones. Urgh. Boring. Eventually I summoned up the energy / won my game of solitaire and left my car.

Immediately I noticed that it was much cooler than the last time I’d run around Richmond Park. What a difference that makes! As this has been my first season of running I knew in theory the difference the heat makes but had never had the opportunity to notice the impact before. I wasn’t wearing a watch as this was meant to be an easy, slow, long run to test out my hip but (obviously) had strava going on my phone so I could track the results afterwards.

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I set off and felt like I was flying (splits later showed I definitely wasn’t but never mind!) For the first 20 minutes I had a huge grin on my face the whole way, I was loving running, loving life. The park was beautiful, other runners were great, ooo look at that deer!!

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Then I hit a hill. Now I started running at Brockwell park run which is pretty hilly, and I noticed that I kept overtaking people going uphill (they would all overtake me back downhill / on the flats). So I thought ooo I must be good at hills. So now every time I hit a hill I tell myself “I like hills, I like hills, remember you like hills“. This helps for getting the hill over with as soon as possible but doesn’t help with the sheer exhaustion at the top!

Half way round the park I stopped for a loo break – probably stopped for slightly longer than I should have as it would have been good to keep going all the way round but never mind. I quickly realised why I had felt so fast at the beginning as the wind was now right in my face and the going was hard. This made me a bit sad, but then it turned out that one of these was my fastest kilometre so it just shows I have absolutely no idea how fast I am going when I am running. Anyway I finished 11.7km (7.2 miles) in 1 hour 8 which I was really pleased with. Most pleased with the fact I enjoyed it, despite not having music, and my hip didn’t hurt!

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Saturday night was dinner at Salon (reviewed yesterday) and then a few glasses of wine while watching Forrest Gump. I love that film and sobbed my heart out at the end.

Sunday my alarm went off with time for an hour of reading the news in bed before out for a solo 3 hour cycle. Well that was the plan anyway….. two hours later I was still in bed, it was windy and grey, my little sister had called from Majorca where she now lives and all plans for a cycle had gone out of the window. I had a long chat with my sister, a little shop in Brixton, a lovely lunch, a long chat with my mum, tidied up the flat, and then managed an hour of running exercises and yoga. Perfect, relaxed chilled out day finished with a lovely dinner and the Honourable Woman on TV.

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Cannon and Cannon, Brixton

I’m not really a food blogger. My restaurant reviews many consist of “I went here, I ate this, it was lovely, here have some bad slightly drunken photos I took on my iPhone.” So for that I apologise… but the fact is that I like eating out, especially at small local restaurants, and if I like them, I want to recommend them to everyone! So here is a recommendation for Salon, a small restaurant in Market Row, Brixton.

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Salon began life as a restaurant above a small shop selling charcuterie and cheese – the cheese has formed my favourite course at many of our friends’ dinner parties. Recently they expanded – the Dining Room is still upstairs, serving locally sourced, seasonal dishes with a set menu that changes regularly. The food is fantastic and we’ve gone several times when we’ve wanted a slightly posher dinner close to home. It is the kind of place where, even if on first glance you raise your eyebrows at the set menu, everything that comes out will be delicious. However, the shop downstairs is now the ‘Store Room’, still selling charcuterie and cheese but now with several small plates, pies, pasties and cakes to eat in or take away. Although we cook all our lunches and dinner during the week, we can be quite lazy on a Saturday night and often end up making a last minute decision to eat out or get a takeaway. And that’s what happened yesterday, when at 8pm we were feeling very lazy with no plans and decided to walk into Brixton.

We took a seat outside Salon, where we could watch the hustle and bustle of Market Row on a Saturday night and ordered two glasses of a Spanish grenache – the cheapest wine on the menu at £3.50 a glass but absolutely delicious.

First up was a cheese platter – a creamy stilton, a harder goat’s cheese and a soft waterloo, served with toasted bread from the Peckham Rye bakery (their sourdough is my favourite ever bread) and a tomato chutney. That all disappeared quickly, the stilton especially was fantastic.

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Next came the Nduja croquettes – sadly I’m sure I took a picture but it seems to have disappeared from my phone! They were little balls of rich, creamy, spicy goodness, served on a bed of alioli. We devoured them and then I may have used my finger to completely clean the plate of any alioli.

At the same time, our vegetable dish arrived – courgettes on a bed of goat’s curd with hazelnuts. The courgettes were cooked to perfection, the hazelnuts added an interesting crunch, and the goat’s curd was…. well I love goat’s curd. Again I may have used my finger to clean the plate.

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We had also wanted to order the meat platter, but were told that it wasn’t available that night as their meat delivery hadn’t turned up a few days previously. This could had been annoying had you come specifically for the meat platter, but I actually have a lot of respect for a restaurant that can’t always serve everything on the menu – it makes me trust the freshness of their ingredients that bit more.

We finished up with another glass of the grenache for me, a bourbon for James (he loved it) and chocolate brownie ice cream to share – chewiness of the brownie mixed with creaminess of the ice cream – I have no idea why I haven’t had this before! It was delicious.

Service was informal and friendly, one guy running the Store Room who obviously knew quite a bit about the food he was serving up and was keen to explain the cheeses to us.

So with three dishes, three glasses of wine, one pudding and one bourbon the bill came to £38 – not bad for a meal where every dish had us exclaiming with delight and scraping the remains into our mouths with our fingers! (okay, just me then!)

If you’re ever in Brixton and fancy a few small plates of local, seasonal food – British tapas if you will – I’d really recommend both upstairs and downstairs at Salon.

Open Water Swimming in London

Today I was swimming towards the end of a cool-down of a few hundred metres, face deep in the murky brown water, body rolling from side to side as my arms gently glided through the water and the sun shone overhead. And all I was thinking about was just how far I’d come over the course of one summer.

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Back in May this year I attended my first open water swim session with RG Active at Stoke Newington reservoir. I’d swum in a lake twice before then, neither time had I managed to swim any distance front crawl and I had actively hated it and disliked swimming. I was butterflies-in-the-tummy nervous and spent the whole time before getting into the water and as I got into the water giggling nervously and constantly saying how bad I was at swimming (just in case anyone got the impression I was an expert!). The weather was freezing and we spent little more than half an hour in the water – I was exhausted when we got out! I only had one swim speed and so couldn’t ‘sprint’ even the 20m length that we were being asked to. But my confidence was hugely boosted when the coach, Phil, used me as an example for a good streamlined body position in the water!

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I went back the next weekend and a love of open water swimming was born. That little boost of confidence was all I needed to keep going, keep trying, keep doing sessions in the pool. I looked forward to open water swimming and hugely enjoyed it – important when you have to make yourself get up at half 6 on a Saturday morning to get there!

The session today involved over an hour of sprints, longer threshold efforts, drills, and gentle loops of the park. Just a few months ago I wouldn’t be able to do one of those sprints, let alone three in a row, heart pounding, swimming over other swimmers (sorry!) in an attempt to be at the front of the pack.

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I have no idea how fast I’ll be on the 7th September but most important things to come from this year training isn’t how fast I swim 1500m, but that I can swim it in the first place, and that I can enjoy doing so! That is a huge leap in ability and confidence for me and I really, really think the RG Active sessions have been instrumental in that.

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Open water swimming isn’t just pool swimming in a lake, especially if you are wearing a wetsuit there are various things that you have to do differently and you also have to sight to see where you’re going. RG Active sessions are full of advice on using your wetsuit to its full potential, lots of advice and practice on sighting and swimming in a group. I have been swum over, kicked, hit, got agonising cramp….. and come up after it all with a smile thinking “well at least now I know what it’s like for race day!” Plus just spending time in a lake will build up your confidence for open water and you will be better off probably than half your field on race day!

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So in case you haven’t gathered… I am really recommending swim sessions with RG Active. They take place on Saturday mornings throughout the summer, at Stoke Newington Reservoir in north London and at Ham Lake just outside Richmond Park. Ham Lake also has sessions on a Sunday morning – these aren’t coached and I haven’t been to one but would be a great opportunity to practice swimming at distance. It is one of my absolute favourite triathlon training sessions.

Cycling in the rain for beginners

Here’s a post with some advice for all you beginner cyclists out there on cycling in the rain – nothing to do with technique I’m afraid as I still haven’t got a clue (cycle home took a full five minutes than normal today due to going verrrrrrrry slowly on the soaking wet roads). If anyone has any advice for cycling better / braver in the rain then please let me know!

No, this is more on the side of being as comfortable as possible. I have discovered the magic ingredient…. but you’ll have to wait for the end of the post for that!

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1) Mudguards, yay or nay? 

I don’t have mudguards because I’m lazy, I can’t be bothered to take them on and off for triathlons, I can’t be bothered with the cost, the buying them, the fitting them. If I’m cycling in the rain, I’m going to throw all my clothes in the wash when I get home anyway so I don’t care about a bit of mud on my bum. As far as the people behind me go, I’ve cycled on my commute behind many people with mudguards and many without – I swear they both send up a similar amount of spray! If anyone has any pressing reasons why they’re fantastic then make your case :)

2) Cycling overshoes

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These are great at keeping your feet dry and more importantly warm – I wear them all the way through the winter whether or not rain is forecast. Mine are these Castelli ones although I must say that after one winter they have become a bit tattered and less waterproof so there are probably better ones out there. Also … they are not that useful if you cycle into work on a sunny August day and then the heavens open at home time….. (like today – yay)

3) A jacket

Wear this over sleeves because if you have bare arms the rain will press the jacket into your arms and you’ll still feel wet (okay, maybe obvious but it took me a while to work this out!) I have one fantastic jacket from Gore (although admittedly not cheap) – it is perfectly waterproof, warm, and folds up into its own little bag so you can attach it around your waist when it stops raining and the sun comes out. I always take it with me on long rides where the forecast is wobbly, especially as I can zip off the sleeves to turn it into a gilet. Ridiculously versatile.

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My second jacket is this one from Sugoi. It is really lightweight so wouldn’t work if you were wearing it for a long cycle in torrential rain. HOWEVER, it is perfectly waterproof for a 40 minute cycle home and my jersey was bone-dry this evening. If you commute I recommend everyone keeps a jacket bound up really small and tucked into a pocket in their rucksack or the back of their jersey. It means that if it ever starts to rain on a sunny day when I’m on my way home, I’m well prepared! sugoi-ladies-shift-jacket-hrs-2013

4) The most important …… SUNGLASSES!!

What? Sunglasses? I hear you say…. well often cycling sunglasses come with different lenses. A sunglasses lens for those beautiful days when the sun is out, an orange lens that I have no idea when you would use, and a clear lens. They clip in and out easily and you can carry the spare lens in a jersey pocket or rucksack. The clear lenses are INCREDIBLE in the rain. I didn’t believe this at first, worried that the rain drops would get in my vision and they’d just be generally really annoying. NOT THE CASE! A quick wipe and they are clear again, and in any event, I’ll take drops on the lenses any day over rain drops pouring into my eyes and blocking my vision. I bought this pair from wiggle. They cost about £20 and make the most amount of difference for cycling in the rain for pounds spent.

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Go forth and cycle in the rain :D