The end of the year is quickly coming around and this means one thing, time to reflect on 2018 and everything our #TeamRutland ambassadors got up to. From 200km rides to two cracked Zipp wheels, it certainly has been an eventful 12 months for the guys. So lets see what they've been up to.
I didn't have any specific goals going into 2018 bar ride more. The older you get somehow the busier life gets and you find yourself doing less of the activities you enjoy; mine being getting out on the bike, improving my fitness and my technical riding ability. As I look back over my Strava though, it looks like I've achieved it! More rides, more miles and more fun! I went for my first proper E-Bike spin round Cannock Chase, and again the experienced evolved. My ride is based on the smiles per mile ratio, and this is where the E-Bike excelled massively. So at this point I was well and truly bought into not just full suspension bikes, but full suspension E-bikes!
I also went to the rather well known and highly rated Revolution Bike Park in North Wales. With its aggressively set trails and super fast & frequent uplift service, you focus in on riding faster, harder and jumping further. Second to that I then took my now second bike, the 2018 Specialized Stumpy to Antur Stiniog in the Snowdonia National Park for a wet and windy day, with a big dollop of adrenaline.
This year Archie was riding a 2018 Specialized Stumpjumper.
After a good season racing on the road and time trialling in 2017, I had my hopes on another good season for 2018. However having been struck down by early season flu my body had other ideas! Looking back it took me much longer than I had given credit for in recovering. Not only that but I had lost the love for training and racing, it takes motivation and dedication to stay committed. I decided to take a step back from racing this year and instead just enjoy riding my bike, keeping fit and taking part in a few sportive events. I still have been to some great places on my bike and it's been fun and refreshing to have a little recap on some of the things that I have achieved despite my plan for the year taking a different direction.
- Hinckley RC 25 Mile TTT: I'm lucky to have a really great group of girls that I ride and train with from my cycling club Leicester Forest CC. We were thrilled to come 2nd in the race but more than anything it was a great team event to take part in and I was really proud of how we rode together.
- Vatternrudan This was an opportunity to ride through Oakley / Rutland Cycling: The Vatternrudan is a 300km mass participation event taking place around Lake Vattern in Sweden, I hadn't ridden this far before and the event was to start at 8.12pm and so we would be riding through the night. It has to be one of the hardest rides I have done but also one of the biggest achievements that I won't be forgetting in a hurry!
- Ride London: It poured and was basically five hours of riding whilst soaking wet! It was slower than I would have liked, but the first time I have ridden 100 miles without stopping! I was glad to see the finish line and riding down the mall was something quite special.
- Tour of Cambridge: This is my second time riding TOC and I was pleased to finish and qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo world championships, finishing 16th.
- La Ronde Picarde: This was another sportive event in Abbeville, France in a large international field. The route was 114 miles, the start being absolutely flat out and a sorting process of riders into groups. Its largely flat with some rolling hills towards the start but again really windy in the flat open areas and especially near the coast. A tough day out, but I was pleased to finish 4th in my age category and just narrowly miss out on a podium position!
- Ride to the Coast and back (174 miles) for LOROS: In an attempt to raise some money for a good cause, my boyfriend and I decided to take part in a ride to the coast and back. In total 174 miles, but collectively we managed to raise over £1000 for both Loros and Diabetes UK. I wont be committing myself to this again in a hurry it was a tough ride mentally and physically. It might be flat but the brutal head wind return and grippy road surfaces made for a long day.
My 2018 year of cycling brought many surprises and great opportunities. It started off with an invite from British Cycling to their headquarters in Manchester to learn about their plans to get more people on bikes and to spend an evening watching the national track finals. I also had secured a place in the V�tternrundan, so I spent a lot of the spring training for that and had a fantastic time in June on the ride, my first 300km and my first ride through the night. It was a tremendous event, and Sweden was a beautiful place to ride, and the chance to tour the Brompton factory near me in West London and have a Brompton ultralight to ride for a week.
As a huge surprise I was nominated and chosen by Cycling UK as one of their 100 women of cycling and had a great day in Manchester with some of the other 99 women on the list, women of all ages and background, so different but with one common bond, our love of cycling. After a move in the summer from London to Bristol I got to know my new city by cycling around it and I found out cycling is also a great way to meet new people when you are new to town, and Bristol has a fantastic cycling community including some fanatic women riders. Shortly after the move I headed over to nearby Wales for a cheeky 2 night bike tour (https://youtu.be/tKnDva3DOUE) and was blown away by the beauty of Wales, the fantastic people and the quiet roads. I'm looking forward to exploring more of Wales in 2019!
Being a lover of long-distance cycling one of the things I had on my to do list for 2018 was to join AudaxUK and ride an Audax. I signed up for one at the end of October thinking I'd get one in before the cold weather hit, but Mother Nature had other plans and the ride was a little more of a challenge than I bargained for (you can see what happened here).
Where to begin... Off of the back of a really good year in 2017 I was determined to carry this motivation through into 2018 where I really wanted to step things up and see what I was made of. Up until this point I was self coached, learning what I could through magazines, the internet and social media. I had also just signed up to Zwift which I loved from the off! But I knew that this method of training wasn't sustainable and eventually I would plateau. Therefore in April this year I decided to get a coach since then, a lot has changed. My biggest improvements have been made on the bike this year.
Having little experience on two wheels before starting triathlon, I've been playing catch up. But with the help of my coach and a lot of hard work and dedication, I have had some amazing results this year. For me the highlight was at the Challenge Championship in Slovakia, a 70.3 race where I averaged 40.1kph over 56 miles a board my Giant Trinity Advanced Pro 0. This was also the first time I was using deep section wheels in the form of a Zipp 303 in the front and a Zipp 404 in the back which made a huge difference to the way I cut through the air and I could really feel the aero benefits. One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to go sub 04:15:00 for a 70.3 and I really think that this upgrade helped me achieve this clocking a time of 04:08:54.
Another one of my goals for 2018 was to win my age group at a big race during the season. This goal was almost achieved in Slovakia when I placed 2nd at the Challenge Championship in what was a closely fought battle between myself 1st and 3rd place but this gave me great confidence for the rest of the season and I eventually reached my goal when I place 1st in my Age Group at Ironman Weymouth 70.3 and in the process qualified for the 2019 70.3 World Championships in Nice!
2018 was going to be my big year for time trailing. I was equipped with a new Giant Trinity and spent some time over the winter with the Varese TT being my big ambition in September, then I won a second time at the masters Tour of Majorca in October where the short TT is always decisive. I also changed my training regime from one aimed at road racing with a lot of sessions on my TT bike to one which was aimed at the TT with some road racing. I hated the new training format. It was training peaks driven with targeted stress levels and recorded effort. It also required much more volume than I had done in the past. Duration and intensity applied in different proportions to the platform of my past success on the road. I got very bored and dispirited with the training but stuck with it as many pals were on a similar regime and were reaping the rewards.
In the early road races of the season of my first 5 events I only finished one race. Not due to fitness but other factors such as crashes. I also had three events cancelled, I needed racing to get race fit. I didn't get race fit in the early part of the season, so I was then catching up. I had punctures and other breakages during events - road races and time trials alike so by mid-summer I was nowhere near where I needed to be for Varese. I had a 10 over near Towcester which I needed to smash! It was a beautiful day and I felt great. After about 4miles on a shaded decent I hit a pot hole and somehow I stayed upright and continued on. At about 4.5miles, just before the turn, on a descent my front tyre deflated. My front wheel, a Zipp 404, was cracked and bucked and now had a flat tyre and my rear wheel, a Zipp Sub -9, was rippled and delaminating. I walked back to my car, trashing a new pair of S-Works shoes and upon returning to my car I noticed that the front driver's side tyre was flat. Really not good, was someone trying to tell me something?
Work life then took over and I headed off to Abu Dhabi for a spell and after a few weeks off started to build towards the season over here. There is a race most weekends from September to the end of March. I have not been giving it full gas, just rediscovering my enjoyment of riding and training again.
Looking ahead to 2019
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