It’s ok to cry….

….because I’ve found a mascara that can handle it!

I have naturally watery eyes and always have to wear waterproof mascara.

I’ve tried a few which usually cope with a normal day but after a drizzly 5k in February where I was told I looked like Gene Simmons and had to be cleaned up with a soggy tissue I had to find a good one.

A friend recommended L’Oréal Paris Double Extension Waterproof Mascara so next time I was in Boots I popped one in my basket

So how does it fare? It’s amazing! It’s super waterproof, I’ve just done a drizzly parkrun and I only have mascara on my lashes and it coped admirably with a post-half breakdown! It’s also cheap at £11(ish) and it also makes my stubby blonde lashes look long and separates them beautifully.

It’s a two stage mascara with white primer and then the actual mascara, but it’s simple and quick even for this ‘slap it on’ girl.

Definitely one to recommend!

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In tandem

Pearl Izumi Champion Team

This blog takes a different form, with us both giving our perspective of our PI Champion Team adventure!

Ann
This adventure started at the beginning of December last year when an email dropped in to say my application to be a Pearl Izumi Champion had been successful. This news was surprising as a) I’d have thought I’m a little long in the tooth to be chosen to represent a stylish cycling apparel brand and b) I wasn’t quite sure what being a PI Champion would entail.

What followed was PI setting up a Facebook group so the champions could engage with one another and arranging a launch day in March to give us full details of the programme.

From the outset, there was great camaraderie on the Facebook group; accomplishments were applauded, bikes were envied, humour was shared, and as the launch event grew closer, questions were answered, travel and rooming arrangements were made, with champions travelling miles out of their way to share transport. It was heart-warming, but more than a little scary.

From reading everyone’s training and exploits on Facebook and Instagram I’d built up a picture that this was a team of strong cyclists, performing at the highest level and cycling huge mileage on a regular basis. So with trepidation, we set out on Friday evening for our road trip (by train!), having arranged to meet another PI Champ, Nicola, en route. Nicola is a breath of fresh air; enthusiastic, positive, funny. Just the type of person Louise and I try to surround ourselves with, as they make life so much more enjoyable. The weekend was already taking shape.

We arrived at the hotel in Milton Keynes, travel weary and wary of how these other champs would perceive two women from Bolton who are just ‘having fun’. What we found was a group of like-minded, fun loving, passionate individuals all mad keen on promoting the benefits and enjoyment of cycling, and some who were suffering confidence issues like us. The PI team had clearly done an amazing job in the recruitment of the team. We gelled quickly, over a drink in the bar and then over breakfast, before we headed to Madison HQ for the official launch event. When the presentations had concluded (with us knowing more about PI’s expectations of us for the coming year; PI’s vision and mission statement being communicated; and a rather bizarre and bewildering talk on nutrition!) and the free kit had been handed out, we chatted and bonded more. Advice was shared, (about random topics such as which arm warmers to buy, which events to try, and the sizing of the kit) over the buffet before the team set out in various groups for the rides, either at the mountain bike trials at Woburn or around the roads of Milton Keynes.

The day then came to a close as we all headed home for our various, far-flung destinations, only for circumstances to further highlight the spirit of the team. When a helmet was dropped at the station, it was found, collected and posted back to the PI Champ by two other Champs in shining armour!

This year is going to be such fun, watching everyone’s exploits in their kit, and I just hope we can meet up again soon.

Photo courtesy of Pearl Izumi UK
Louise

It’s safe to say I was incredibly nervous ahead of the event but within minutes of meeting Nicola on the train, Emma and Laura over a quick lager on arrival at the hotel and Jude and Linzi at breakfast nerves were settled and I was keen to get to the event.

The thing that really struck me was that it wasn’t about being a fabulous cyclist. Don’t get me wrong I’d followed people on FB and Instagram beforehand and was absolutely in awe of their achievements in speed and distance of rides, countries visited, races and challenges completed, but on the day I can’t remember a conversation about any of those things. What we did talk about was going from zero to regular cyclist, setting up of cycling clubs, surviving cancer and charity fundraising with seemingly impossible challenges, coaching of children and adults.

I could go on and on, but I definitely sensed a theme of using cycling to give to the community, by helping and supporting others and being determined to make things happen.

I adore the kit we were provided with; elite top, bib shorts and shoes, not just because I’m human and love a freebie but because it gives a sense of belonging, being part of a team.

The Pearl Izumi vision is ‘To be the brand of choice for cyclists. We aspire to elevate the sports we love, and empower more people to become cyclists’. The group of people in that room on Saturday totally embodied that ethos and whilst I’m humbled by their achievements I can also associate with them. My biggest joys since starting to run then cycle have been when we’ve been doing community/ support events, volunteering and run directing at parkrun, leading Breeze rides and running our ladies cycling events.

So we’ve got the ambassador title and strip and for the next nine months or so are tasked with regular social media posts using Pearl Izumi hashtags showing off our lovely apparel. My hope is to cycle more, lead more Breeze rides and throw in the odd personal challenge or two!

 

Good company

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So yesterday my train home after a meeting in Edinburgh was horribly delayed due to an issue near Lockerbie. I ended up sat on return trains for almost six hours.

There is only so much time I could bear to read my tiny Blackberry screen and type on its minute keyboard so this book (and my MP3 player) kept me company.

I’ve not finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying it. Just as the music on my MP3 is ‘easy listening’ this book is ‘easy reading’. So far it’s a fun, interesting look back on his career, the people he’s met and worked with and places he’s been.

In fact it’s all been very ‘nice’ up to now so I’m waiting with interest to see if G dishes any dirt or brings up the subject of drug use in the second half of the book. Definitely an area of great interest at the moment!  I’ll report back after a few (hopefully shorter) train commutes!

 

Today went swimmingly

Training has been a bit up and down lately, and definitely more down, as that’s how my mood has been! I’m not sure whether it’s the winter blues or an age thing, but this little black cloud that keeps following me around is getting a little bit tiresome.
So today I was on a mission to lift the spirits once again, and what better way than a parkrun with all the joy that a Saturday morning run with a couple of hundred like-minded people can bring. Meeting up early with Louise and Diane added a few extra miles beforehand, so completing our weekend ‘long run’ in the most pleasant of ways.

Early afternoon saw an impromptu organising meeting for our upcoming Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)Women on Wheels event in our local Costa after collecting the very generous goodie bags donated by the Bolton Decathlon store.

If you haven’t checked out TfGM website, it really should be on your ‘to do’ list. There’s a whole host of different cycling courses, from beginners cycling and maintenance courses, to an intermediate course I went on a few weeks ago which taught me how to replace my brake cables and fit a new gear cassette and chain! And to think it was all considered a Dark Art this time last year.

Saturday ended with me pulling my big girl pants up and finally getting in the pool for the first time since last September. It had become a massive issue, with me almost feeling scared of getting back in the water. Swimming is the weakest of the three disciplines for me, but bizarrely my favourite! I’m still not ready for the intense Tri club sessions but it felt so good to get back in the water and not have to resort to arm bands ( which was my fear!). Swimming somehow feels even more therapeutic than cycling or running; you’re just alone in the water with your thoughts, concentrating on tweaks to your stroke to make it easier to pass through the water. It’s almost mindfulness whilst training.

Saturday drew to a close with my black cloud, whilst not having disappeared completely, having definitely been shown who’s the boss.

Organising, with our honorary belle

Check out TfGM here http://cycling.tfgm.com/Pages/default.aspx

And just in case you’re in the market for something cycling related, do check out the lovely folk at Decathlon Bolton. All their products have lengthy warranties, money back options and are great value for money. You’ll get some really top notch advice too.

Planning

Last year Ann and I chanced our arm and put an application in for a grant from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to host an event for their Women on Wheels initiative.

We were amazed and a little thrilled that our initial 25 places were snapped up in 24 hour hours and on the day 35 novice cyclists joined us for a morning of cycling skills, bike maintenance and a park ride. Finished in true cycling style with tea, coffee and cakes!

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Last year’s Women on Wheels event

We were so chuffed and got such positive feedback that this year we’re doing it all again!

We’ve got the grant and are making plans working with British Cycling Breeze and Bolton Tri Club to hold an event that we hope will be even bigger and better, accommodating new and nervous ladies and also improvers and intermediates.

So as they say… Save the Date Sunday 26 March Leverhulme Park.

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On t’telly!

ITV

Transport for Greater Manchester have played a huge part in our lives as cyclists. But we never thought it would get us on the telly!

Their free courses helped us become road ready (lots of laps of the fire station forecourt), learn how to ride on the roads (including navigating a roundabout the size of a small Caribbean island), taught me how to use cleats (and gave me my first experience of the dreaded cleat fall, very impressively at a main junction!), and gave us the knowledge of how to maintain our bikes (even pumping our tyres up was a dark art in the beginning).

So it was with huge excitement that Louise and I put in an application, early in 2016, to their Women on Wheels initiative, which was offering to fund projects aimed at getting women on their bikes. We were lucky enough to be selected for funding and our event was a huge success (no one was more surprised than us two) and so when the fund opened to applications again for 2017, we were sharply onto it, submitting an application with the vision of a bigger and better event.

What we didn’t envisage was the publicity (and for two girls just making it up as we go along, this was very unexpected) we would generate. Getting an email last week asking if we would ‘do a piece for ITV’ was too good an adventure to turn down.

So it transpired that we, along with a group of our lovely WoW ladies, turned up at Leverhulme Park on the bitterly cold first Tuesday morning of 2017 to meet the journalist and photographer from the evening news programme.

Two hours later, after a few pieces ‘to camera’ by a couple of our success stories and a lot of riding round the park in a variety of directions, we decamped to the park cafe to thaw out and digest our morning. A cafe always features in our rides, so despite us having probably only cycled 500 metres, it seemed churlish not to partake of a brew, cheese on toast and excitement at ‘being on the telly!’

I can safely say that the following evening, waiting for the piece to air on the news, was more nerve wracking than any job interview. However the nerves disappeared once we had watched it (and rewatched for the umpteenth time) and appreciated the scale of the interest in women’s cycling.

The Facebook pages were inundated with enquiries and in her truly interminable style, Lou spent the evening replying to each and every one, encouraging and advising in equal measure.

Whatever the outcome of our application for this year’s funding, I’m humbled to think that our excitement and enthusiasm for cycling has helped even a few ladies get on their bikes!

Push it real good…

Training takes a different form in the new year, with the triathlon club sessions having been revamped by our new head coach. It was with some trepidation that I turned up for the first evening of the new regime (only finding the energy after encouraging text messages from a couple of friends – we were all struggling with feeling the training love on a cold, wet Monday evening!).

We opted for a spin session followed by circuits and I have to admit it was a revelation that we could giggle so much yet still have a great workout. The playlist during the cycle session had our toes tapping almost as quickly as our feet were spinning and the circuit session highlighted how much work I need to do on upper arm strength!

It did make me think, however,

A) where would we be without the encouragement and support of our friends and training buddies.

B) how easy it is to keep doing the same training, and, although the training is never easy, it’s familiar to us and maybe doesn’t stretch us as much as we need.

I’m determined to keep mixing my training up but continue to remember that I do all of this, not so I will ever win a trophy or accolade, but so I can be as fit and healthy as I can and have the most fun whilst doing it.

 

Bolton Tri Club is filled with supportive, encouraging coaches, and athletes enjoying their training. If you have ever felt a spark of interest in triathlon, check out the website at http://www.boltontri.com, which lists all the training sessions taking place over the week. Come on down; who knows what new skill you could learn or old skill you could develop.