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!

 

N + 1

 Its two years this month since I got my first Cyclescheme bike certificate on their cycle to work scheme. How that little piece of paper has changed my life!

I got a bike originally to participate in triathlons (THAT decision is for another blog!) and proudly stated to the man in the bike shop, when I went clutching my Cyclescheme certificate, that I didn’t want a bike with ‘curly handlebars as there was no way I was road biking!’ Oh, the naiveté!

That first bike was a lovely hybrid from Decathlon; a light, beautiful specimen and I at once felt at home on it. I entered my first triathlon and it turned out to be a fun partnership. However, I’d then found a love of cycling in its own right, and trying to do lots of miles on the hybrid was proving to be difficult.

So a new road bike, which would take me on my biggest adventure so far, 328 miles from London to Paris raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society, and a chunky mountain bike for leading off road Breeze rides, were the next two purchases.

That’s it! I thought! Oh, there’s that naiveté again.

 I then heard of the cycling equation for the number of bikes a person NEEDS:

N+1, where N is the current number of bikes you own 

This equation gave me all the excuses I needed to have more than one bike.

Fast forward to October 2016, when, on a trip with Louise to Green Machine Bike Shop in Horwich, I spotted a stunning Colnago road bike, pleading to be found a new home. John, the owner, knew I was smitten but the bike in the shop was slightly too big for me (John has such integrity, he would only sell a bike that was the perfect fit for you), so he set about sourcing me one the right size.

And that’s when Cyclescheme certificate number two was applied for, to buy this beauty, which lives in my dining room and is a work of art.

Most workplaces have a cycle to work scheme and the savings on the cost of the bike can be anything from 25% to 42%, with the employer also saving 13% on national insurance costs. I can highly recommend Cyclescheme if you have a choice or need to encourage your employer to offer this benefit. http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk

If you haven’t visited John at Green Machine in Horwich, I can highly recommend his services too. You’ll get good, honest advice and support for any aspect of your cycling.

After 328 miles, we could just manage to lift our medals

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.

The night before…

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It’s race day tomorrow (the Bolton 5k, one of the Central Lancashire Grand Prix series) and looking st tonight’s sky I’m optimistically thinking we might have a decent morning for it.

I’ll be running in my Burnden Club vest and also showing solidarity to the recently formed Ramsbottom Running Club by wearing the club colours on a buff (neck tube). I’ve joined RRC as a second claim member so I can train with them as and when I can get home from work on time. My home club remains as Burnden and will be my club on race entries and race day results.

Its been fun meeting and running with new runners and also running some new routes. Ramsbottom is hilly so every Tuesday session is a challenge!

 

 

 

 

Today’s learning

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They say you learn something every day…

Ann and I have tonight finalised our plans for our Women on Wheels  event on Mothers Day 26 March at Leverhulme Park in Bolton.

So what did we learn?

  • Rope experts in, they love to help and share their passion in this case it’s a love of cycling. They also have great ideas and can help simplify something that had us tied in knots!
  • Within 60 minutes you can come up with something that’s suitable for varying abilities and levels of confidence
  • Free stuff is great! Today’s freebie bonus is Eventbrite where you can set up an event, limit numbers AND include FAQs!

So there we have it two Bolton Belles Women on Wheels events in one. If you’re local and fancy joining us take a look here

New and Nervous ladies

Improvers and Intermediate ladies

It’s a mad mad Mad Dog world

So today Ann and I did our first joint race of the year, taking part in the 7th MAD DOG 10K. Organised by the Round Table this event is badged as ‘a great fun event that takes place along the Southport shore line’ ‘a great run for runners of all types regardless of your experience, everybody is welcome’

 

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I’m a pretty mean runner (when it comes to entry fees rather than being a great runner!) and so took a sharp intake of breath at the entry fee of nearly £27 for affiliated runners. But the event now in its 7th year must be doing something right as it has been named THE BEST 10K IN THE UK by various running organisations over the years (including Runners World and for the last 3 years at the National Running Awards).

So Ann and I forked out our hard earned cash and along with a group of Burnden and Ramsbottom Running club buddies including Ann’s daughter Alice making her race debut we waited patiently for the 2017 race to be announced and signed up quickly (thankfully before it sold out in just a couple of days).

An unnamed storm threatened to spoil our fun with high winds forecast for the day and we debated all week what clothing we’d need. We needn’t have worried as on the day the weather was exceptionally kind with blue sky and a total absence of wind and rain.

Logistically the event was just perfect, with race bibs mailed out beforehand and central parking with free buses to the registration area. Once we arrived at registration we noted all the directions and signage and the number of portaloos available!

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On the race bus
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Just some of my goodie bag!

Feedback on previous races called out ‘brilliant goodie bag’ and wow, what a goodie bag it was with bespoke T-shirt, buff, race clips, rucksack, gym towel and lots of samples and snacks all handed out efficiently and with minimal queuing.

The race itself was equally well organised with start pens (dog named of course) determined by expected finish times. Pre-race announcements that could be heard by all runners and most importantly chip timing.
The course was flat, really well marshalled and signed and we had the bonus of bands, choirs and singers (including Elvis) to distract us and provide a good beat to run to.

I’ve learned recently that my once favoured flat road races aren’t actually as nice as I’d thought and after a decent start struggled in the second half of the race walking a few times in an attempt to ease aching calves and try to persuade myself it wasn’t actually a long slog! Looking back I’m slightly irritated with myself for letting my mind win at times especially as I still finished with a time just over 1:02 and with a bit more effort could have achieved only my second sub 60 min 10k. It wasn’t to be, and there’s always next time so it’s all the more reason to crack on with my training, run more (better miles) and do some strengthening and conditioning exercises (and that might just have to be a blog post for the future!)

Overall it was a great day out and our group saw debut races, debut 10ks and PBs but most importantly friendship and fun.

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Friends and family do MAD DOG 2017

It’s not all grim up north

We’ve seen in the new year with some bright cold days, perfect for getting outdoors. We are so lucky that whilst Bolton is known  for its industrial heritage it also has some stunning countryside. Whilst on holiday this week we  both made the most of our surroundings.

I spent the bank holiday walking with hubby and our dog Mitzi round Entwistle Reservoir, a lovely two and a half mile stroll. The sun and new year resolutions brought out the masses as I’ve never seen it quite so busy!

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Entwistle Reservoir

Ann was somewhere much quieter (quieter that is until she arrived with the Ramsbottom Running crew!) They took the opportunity to go for an inpromptu trail run up to Peel Tower. The run was tough but lots of fun and was described by one runner as “Lots of whooping and hollering, followed by brews, mulled wine, mince pies and flapjacks”

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Yomping up hill and down dale  Photo courtesy of Ramsbottom Running Club