Little summary of my feelings from yesterdays race.

Yesterday was my 3rd race of the winter season. Basically these are the emotions that went with it. Normal anxiety prior to race. Increased anxiety on the start line. In the middle of the starting pack was scary, mostly men surrounding me. Should of gone to the edge. What if there is a pile up in front of me? What if I can't keep up? Go! Pedal furiously, heart already up to near its maximum. Hanging on in there,  I hold my place ok. My special racing Bont shoes feel super. Get through the technical woods, relieved not to crash. I have no idea where I am in the race. Barriers are high and feel hard.



Feel sick. Reached my limit. What am I doing here? I am not doing very well. I'm moving too slow on these open bits but need to back off as feel too sick to push harder. My back hurts a bit. These laps are really long. People cheering pleases me, distracts me from the pain and lack of oxygen in my muscles. I bet other people are feeling fine and not struggling. I have a strong word with myself, the feeling will pass, just keep pedalling. The bell rings. I feel great! I push hard and even run up the hill. One last effort. I ride the steps, passing a woman running, the euphoria carries me all the way to the finish.


Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 20.01.32


I love my little Kinesis bike with its second hand tubs.  Can't breathe. Exhausted. Delighted. Fabulous feeling of achievement. No idea where I came, don't really care, I did my best. Both the physical and mental strength need to be worked on. 6th lady out of 18. I'll suffer again for that.....

Thanks to Chris Meads and Jack Chevell for Photos.

Thanks to Bont, Lazer and Kinesis Uk for important accessories

Bont Riot Road Shoe Review



< Having cycled for a number of years and been a physiotherapist for many more, I feel I can offer you a valued opinion of the Bont Riot road shoe. It was introduced to the market in June 2013 and Bont stated it was the worlds first carbon composite heat moldable entry level cycling shoe. The shoe retails at around £100. I have worn several pairs of shoes and these were one of the cheapest.

Bont are known for there research into functional biomechanics and correct anatomical support, they believe they put more effort into this than any other cycling shoe brand, there motto in terms of cycling shoe fit is 'We make shoes for cycling not walking' . It is this that I was interested in, could the Riot offer what the more expensive models could in terms of support etc

There are obvious differences between the Riot and the more expensive Vaypor + model (more than twice the price). The Riot has a tub/bath construction and not the full monocoque which offers increased stiffness and reduced weight, it has straps instead of dials on the upper etc but the biomechanical support and shaping is the same and therefore should be offering the same support to the foot. Personally I have suffered with hot spots, numb toes and arch pain when riding, also after if its a long ride. I have recently considered orthotics in my shoes but held off until I had tried the Riots.

So the heat molding system is unique in that its the whole chasis that can be molded and not just select locations, so they should be a real custom fit. I heated mine up twice, just to even out the odd bump, they can be molded as many times as you like although I'm not sure about dirty shoes in the oven! I had heard that the heels can be a bit hard and I did find this for the first 3-4 rides. I used a plaster over my achilles and it was fine. Now they are like slippers. (As will all new shoes, materials can be stiff when new, working this area with your fingers can also speed up the process)

The most obvious thing about the Bont shoe is how wide they are, they kind of look spoon shaped which in fact is foot shaped. This allows the foot to function in its normal way, the metatarsals are not constricted and nerves not compressed, this is the common cause of 'hot foot" sensation. Because the foot is in its correct anatomical position ie not getting squashed, it means the pedalling force can be spread across the largest surface area. Initially it felt strange for the shoe to feel spacious but I soon got used to that, especially when I realised I had no numbness in my little toe!

Common knee problems and low back pain can be as a result of over pronation of feet. There is a structural medial longitudinal arch support in place to stop that and this can help keep knees tracking correctly by preventing excessive rotation of the tibia and femur. I could feel the support under my arch and as a result have had no arch pain in my feet either. It felt like a very solid platform to be pushing down on.

There is also lateral forefoot support in place and an anatomical heel cup, all contributing to the most supportive shoe I have worn.

I have worn the Riots for 3 months now and find them incredibly comfortable. I noticed on a 100 mile ride the other day that my feet didn't hurt at all and I was not desperate to get out of my shoes at the end. I can feel I have better power transfer though them than previous shoes, especially when climbing. I have been feeling my right gluteus medius (important glut muscle) post riding as I'm sure it's working more. My right foot pronates excessively which would inhibit the glut med from firing very well, for me the shoe corrects this and allows the muscle to be more active.

Personally I am sold, no orthotics required for me, the only thing is that I am now stuck in Bont shoes! I have grown to love the spoon shape because of the comfort that it gives. So if you suffer with any foot problems the Riots may help, every foot and leg is different and they may not be the answer for everyone but I reckon its a great place to start. If you don't have any problems I would say they are you less likely to develop any with Bont. With the Riot costing £100 they are a bargain compared to similar brands at that price and are unique, I think they look pretty damn cool too. Now when is the winter boot coming out?

Ali Mills Chartered Physiotherapist Bsc (Hons)

Shoe features:-

Carbon composite sole Durable Microfibre Upper Comfort liner Side and upper air vents Fully heat moldable Comfort innersole Replaceable sole guards Cleat mounting-3 hole Look Configuration Closing option-Z form Velcro Strap+Buckle (replaceable) Weigh-276g (approx weight based size 42)

The Infamous Tod Cross Race-Euphoric!

I have marshaled Tod Cross twice saying the same thing each year "I would never do this in a million years, its absolutely mad, muddy and ridiculously hard looking!' So I'm at the start line a year later, on my lovely Kinesis EVO4, its mad, muddy and ridiculously hard looking..... GO!

Descending demon

My fear of all the people quickly vanished as I slid over the mud and pedaled furiously, why did I think I would be cold, no chance! I am ahead of Emma, now to keep it that way. The steep cobbled climb arrived and it was bike on shoulder time, Emma overtakes with her strong fell running legs, bugger. At the top back in the saddle and whoooosh through the trees, then it got interesting. Some steep downs and tight corners allowed me to catch Emma and finally pass her on a tricky deep muddy descent. Now I need to hold the lead, it was hard and fabulous all at once, friends and strangers cheering, so exhilarating. It was much more fun than spectating!

The cobbles arrived again and Emma passed me and so this happened each lap, me catching and overtaking her on the tricky descents. I would need a race face on to hold this lead, Joolze Diamond providing the evidence

Race face is on!

By the fourth and final lap I was tiring and Emma has greater stamina than me, she was able to hold her lead after the cobbles, but only just!

I crossed the line and that was when I knew that I had found my thing, Cyclocross racing:)



I was Euphoric and I will beat Emma next time!

Special thanks to:-

Sportsunday and Joolze Diamond for photos-wonderful as always

Chipps and all his helpers for organising the race smoothly in tough conditions.

Kinesis for sorting me out with a fabulous bike Evo4

And once again to Mark Turner and Alan Dorrington for encouraging me to the point of today, their female only race really started this for me, more are essential for women to feel confident at having a go at Cross, you never know where it may lead.......




Fairy beats Elf in race shocker

Spot the tutu!

Today I entered a very serious traditional cross bike race. It was the fancy dress cross race in Heptonstall. A lot of preparation went into this. I did my first race last week, an all ladies race organised by Cycle Sport Pendle. It was fantastic and gave me the confidence to enter this next challenging event. I chose my outfit carefully, a fairy.Fairy I was happy with this. Emma dressed as an elf .


The weather was kind, dry and not too cold. It was a mass start, fairies, elves, batman, robin, reindeer and santas all in it together. The circuit was quite small and tight, this was to my advantage, skill needed as much as strength. I started well, ahead of the elf. I loved going round feeling the elf  on my tail, fully expecting her to overtake at any point. You could take a shortcut with the penalty of getting shot at with water pistols, of course I paid the price to keep my lead.

Squirted on the shortcut

The bell rang and I was still ahead, then the elf came past, damn I thought. But luck was in and there was a gap I could slip through on the inside, the fairy had regained the lead. I rode as hard as I could, passed batman and crossed the line ahead of the elf. I was thoroughly delighted with myself! Fairies rule.

Short film of Emma and I on Cross bikes by Tim Royle

We were very lucky and approached by Tim Royle  (White No Sugar ) to make a little film,  2 girls on cross bikes. We filmed it in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden and had huge fun doing it. Tim was super easy to work with and has done a remarkable job at not making us look like fools!

Enjoy it, I think its fabulous!

Can't wait to do my first real race ( ladies only) in a couple of weeks time run by  CSP at Waddow Hall, Waddington, Clitheroe. Youth, U12, U10, Sen, vets and ladies to follow too.

Racing it all by Tim Royle

Mills in a dress at the Fred Whitton Dinner

Last week I was cycling in Mallorca in the sun, whilst there I received an email from Paul Loftus, the main man behind the organisation of The Fred Whitton Cycle Challenge. He had been going through Just Giving sites and had worked out that I had raised the most money this year, £4306. As a thank you he invited me to attend the special dinner and dance they were holding 27th October, this was to celebrate raising £500 000 for charity over the last 13 years. Sarah Storey and her husband Barney Storey (both multiple gold medal winners at the Paralympics ) were attending as special guests. Oh what a lovely thing to look forward to after our holiday. So all dressed up we headed to The Castle Green Hotel on Kendal. There were a lot of people there, all involved in the Fred Whitton somehow. I made myself known to Paul and his wife, they were delighted I could attend and expressed their thanks for the fundraising I had done. Only 57 women out of 1370 riders completed the ride this year. I was then very honored to be introduced to Sarah Storey who was lovely. We had a good chat about the tough challenge and cycling in general. She really is an awesome cyclist and I was a bit star gazed!

During the evening lots of thanks and mentions were given to various people and businesses that had helped and it was clear that behind the Fred Whitton each year is an army of helpers. In total £85000 was split between 4 charities and cheques were presented to them, £45000 went to Macmillan which made me extremely happy. There was an amazing raffle with signed jerseys of Victoria Pendleton and Brad Wiggins ( which was won and auctioned on the night for £350) and lots more.

And then there was me. Unexpectedly I was announced and had to collect from Sarah Storey a certificate and an amazing goody bag full of things from Saddleback and a £50 M&S voucher ( new pants!) To be honest I was a bit overwhelmed, I didn't set out to raise the money to be rewarded for it, the reward was being healthy enough to do the challenge. I wanted to pay Macmillan back for paying my rent 10 years ago and the Macmillan representative at the dinner said that I had more than done that. Job done.

We danced till midnight and went home buzzing, what an evening.

If you think I did ok to be one of the 57 women out of 1370 entrants to complete the Fred Whitton this year you can still donate to Macmillan here

Photo kindly taken and given by Steve Fleming, click here to see more

My Retul Bike Fit at Planet X

Planet X asked if I would like to have a Retul Bike fit done at their bike fitting centre in Sheffield, erm does a bear sh*t in the woods? If its good enough for the Sky team its good enough for me. Yes please! Since starting cycling 2 1/2 years ago I have been slightly obsessed over my position as I have a wonky (technical physio term) right leg and a bad back. Having done years of pilates I am very aware of body position and what my back and leg likes and dislikes. This has made cycling challenging as I have been taken out of my comfort zone and had to adapt, learn and strengthen appropriately.

With my first bike I had a Specialised bike fit which seemed quite comprehensive and a good place for me to start. Tape measures and plumb lines were used and a very knowledgeable man applied it all to me and my bike. I didn't question the fit too much because I didn't know any different. He told me that my body had to adapt a bit to the position and cycling in general and over time initial aches and pains could go away but new ones may develop, I had to pedal some miles to see how my body was going to react and then some adjustments could be made. So basically thats what I have been doing for 2 years now, riding and adjusting, changing saddles, changing pedals etc Its taken me this long to get my head around what the bike position can do for me and what I have to do myself ie stretch and strengthen. I was keen to see what the Retul system had to offer me, so I made the appointment and headed to the Planet X showroom in Rotherham.

Retuls description of their bike fitting system is:-

" Retul is the most advanced bicycle fitting system available today. The system incorporates an amazingly precise three-dimensional motion capture technology, immediate report capability, and millimeter-specific digitizing tool to provide the most accurate dynamic fitting solution in the industry. But it doesn’t tell the fitter what to do. The Retül is just a tool; it stops there. It just captures the data. "

At Planet X, Chris and Craig are the fitters, there was also a Physiotherapist present learning the system. Bre who is a very experienced fitter was also present for the day, sharing her knowledge.  It was an informal relaxed atmosphere which I liked. I filled out a questionnaire covering some basics, we had a chat about my wonky leg (anteversion of hip) and then my flexibility was assessed.  I was fitted with 7 LEDs on one side of my body, from foot to hand and on the joints in between. My bike was put in a turbo trainer, I rode away at a comfortable pace for a few minutes, when I felt I was settled into my position, the data was captured.  The LEDs projected my position and movements to a tripod sensor array. This information was fed to the computer and the Retuls analysis software. It captures many data points which the computer averages. The process was repeated to the other side of the body, clearly allowing differences and imbalances to be shown.

Once the data has been collected thats the Retul systems job done. All the measurements have to then be analysed by the fitter, and any numbers that are out of the fitting systems accepted ranges need to be discussed. This is where the expertise of the fitter is really important, collecting the data is easy, analysing it is the skillful part.  If data is shown to be out of the acceptable range for a measurement, eg. knee angle flexion, the fitter has to decide the consequence of that and what to do about it, the system does not tell you what to do.  The goal is to find a neutral position that prevents injury, eliminates pain and increases power output. The fitter must understand how one measurement affects another. What they must also understand, is that some bodies won't fit into all the acceptable ranges,  for a variety of reasons including injuries, muscle length and postural limitations.

The final step of the process is to input the riders final fit to the bike using the Zin tool and optical scanner, which is basically an LED on a stick that allows the fitter to touch all of the critical points on the bike and log the exact positions of the seat, handlebar and various parts of the frame. There are 13 to 15 points of reference in total. This gives the rider a digital file and printout of their fit, should they need to double check position down the road.  So you come away with all the measurements in an email and final riders fit picture for reference which is brilliant.

Out of all the data collected for me there was just one measurement that needed to be discussed and that was knee forward of foot. Because my right femur is rotated inwards there was a difference between right and left of 5mm. Fortunately it appeared that with all the years of experience Chris and Craig had between them, they were able to think this through clearly. If I altered one side it would affect the other, it would be impossible to have both measurements sitting the same because of the way my femur sits. If I had not been a physio, they would  have suggested seeing one, to see if I could make any changes in my body. I agreed with that approach and explained that I felt that some things could  be changed with strengthening and flexibility but some tightness would have to be managed by massage and stretching.

So after 90 minutes of preparing , collecting and analysing data not one thing was changed on my bike fit. Was I disappointed by this? Well the short answer is no. It means that my own analysis about position was right, it also meant that even if paying a lot of money (its costs £180 for the fit, half price if doing it on a new bike purchased from Planet X) Chris and Craig were happy and confident not to change something for the sake  of it and this pleased me. I think that all bike fits have limitations, as all bodies are different, however I think the Retul system is a fantastic place to start from as a beginner or work from as an experienced rider. It is essential that the fitter has knowledge and experience to be able to interpret the data, this is where Chris and Craig came up trumps. Having a trained Physio on site adds to their knowledge and  this gave me a lot of confidence for people with musculo-skeletal problems that may want to use the fitting system, so all in all I think Planet X utilise the Retul system well.

More information can be found on the Planet X website here

Now its time to ride...........

Crow Hill Reverse Results 2012

Wow what an evening. The sun came out to play and we had 110 runners which was awesome! No one got too lost, there were no wasps nests (last year there was) and no known major injuries. We raised over £450 for Ovarian Cancer and £150 in the raffle for the flood relief fund. The signed Brownlee photos  got sold  to a sports promotion company for £100 which will also go to Ovarian Cancer.

Thanks to all the amazing helpers and our sponsors iRun, Garage bikes-Morley, Print Bureau and Sport Sunday. Thanks to Drive by Pie for the best pies ever! And thanks to the community centre for big room and bar!

Hope everyone had as much fun as we did and comes back next year.


Results 2012



Fred Whitton 2012-I did it!

The short version- 112 miles,  12500 ft elevation,  10hrs 22 mins, strong SW wind, it was ridiculously hard at times, I loved most of it and I wasn't sick! I was delighted to have raised so much money for can still donate here The longer version: (it is quite long but I had a lot to tell you!) The Van ( Snail) was packed up and we left for the lakes with our shiny bikes (lovingly polished by Emma) on friday afternoon.

All week people were obsessed with the weather and how awful it may be on the day, high winds and possible rain predicted. I generally didn't pay too much attention, I would be going round whatever so why worry? I was determined to try and enjoy it all. I continued drinking beetroot juice for my muscles (yes I did have pink wee!) and started on the camomile tea to aid anxiety levels. I needed to stay as calm as  possible so I could keep eating. We decided to cycle to registration on the saturday, it was only 2.5 miles and best to turn legs than get stiff I thought. It was all quite exciting, lots of people buzzing around and creating a good atmosphere. Seeing my name on the entrants board made my tummy flip-number 400, I liked it.

It was an official process, photo ID was essential to register and the timing chip was wrapped round your wrist. We met up with others riding, Leon,Paul, Craig and Simon (my riding buddy for the day) and also Jen who was kindly supporting us by being out on the course with bottles and extra food-fabulous. I knew I had friends at Whinlatter too so lots to look forward to.

That evening in the Snail I exchanged anxious messages with Simon about not going off too fast etc. I got everything prepared, checked it all 10 times, changed my mind about clothing 20 times and finally went to bed at 10pm. I did have some sleep and  5am came round quick. This is it, this the day I've been training for. I managed to eat a bagel with peanut butter and jam on it,

I was well pleased with myself. Got all my kit on and we pedalled to the start. It was quite cold and by now I felt quite sick. There were a lot of cars queueing to park, we made the right decision to ride, I began to hope that Simon wasn't stuck, I  wouldn't be good waiting to start. Fortunately he wasn't, we exchanged looks of fear, excitement and nausea and headed to the start. I wished Emma good luck and we got our timers dibbed, we were off!

The sun was shining, it was cool and breezy. I couldn't believe I was doing it! We started steady, there is not really any warm up before the climbing starts, straight up Hawkshead Hill. The thing about the Fred is it talks about the big 7 passes but there are loads of other climbs too.  The first big pass is Kirkstone,  windproof off as now sweating.   Pedal pedal. I Just kept thinking this is it, don' t ruin it by worrying about how you feel etc. Simon and I chatted, confirming to each other we still felt sick and we would just tap away until the finish. An ambulance passed us, a reminder to be careful on the descents, they can be lethal. The scenery is awesome and I kept trying to look around and appreciate it. I was feeling fine in my legs at this point-must be the beetroot juice! At Dockray we saw Jen and Steph with the Flanders flag, it was great stopping, having a drink,  a coca cola, chatting about how we felt. 2 hours done, Simon and I high fived and moved on.

Onto the A66 to keswick, the headwind was strong, I tucked in behind Simon and after a little while he tucked in behind 2 other guys, excellent they can pull us, result. The road is major and traffic is fast, its quite unpleasant really, head down and pedal. Leon, Paul and Craig came past and shouted 'Hi', I liked this. Got to Keswick ok, toilet break, gel and drink.

Next stop Honister, an evil evil climb, so steep and narrow. Riders zig zagging, riders stopping and walking, people shouting, tourist cars wanting to pass, nightmare. I struggled up behind Simon, I was not going to stop here. At the top huge relief came over me, it was like I could really enjoy the ride now.  The descent is tricky, my hands cramped a bit on the brakes.

On to Newlands, we decided not to stop at the feed station, we were ok and thought best to keep going. There were people cheering in a lot of places, I loved the support, I cheered back and thanked them. When they noticed it was a girl there was an extra cheer! We had quite a strong tailwind up Newlands pass which was nice but was an early sign of what was going to be hitting us in the face later on. I thought about riding in Lanzarote where  the wind was very strong, it'll be ok.  Somewhere along the way Chipps appeared on his Seven Cycles Sola 29er converted to road use, it was lovely to see another familiar face.

Whinlatter next, a more gradual climb and a party of friends waiting at the top. The climb  seemed to go on a bit but the thought of Issy, Amanda, Sarah, Gemma and Kath made it easier. I passed Rick and he cheered me up to the girls,. I loved seeing them, it was so exciting, Kath rubbed my foot which was numb from the cold, I sat down with a jacket round me, drank coca cola and ate a sausage roll, I felt spoilt. Next to them was Jen and Steph again where Simon stopped, more chat and smiles before we headed off. 60 miles done, not doing bad at all. The fun with the wind began now. It was quite cold and extremely blustery, I knew it was going to go on like this for the next 30 miles, this was a real challenge. We climbed more hills and pedalled undulating roads, all into a very strong headwind, it was quite soul destroying at times, everyone was struggling with heads low, muttering how awful it was, and speed was nowhere to be seen. We kept looking out to sea, it was so rough and and amazing to look at, we chatted to distract ourselves, our average speed gradually reducing. I focused on all the money people had donated, it made me feel warm, so generous. I thought about being ill and how this feeling was a hundred times better than that. I looked forward to seeing Sellafield power station, the strangest view in the lake district but I love it. We would be able to say we did it in the 'really windy year 2012', extra kudos! Cold Fell was very hard.

Finally we turned east and the headwind became a side wind for a bit, a small relief. Our legs were tired now, really drained. We were now heading to the infamous Hardknott and Wrynose. Simon and I confirmed our probable need to walk early on, just had nothing in our legs now. Before we knew it it was there in the distance, in all its glory, even though it's so tough I loved looking at it snake up the mountain. The red phone box arrived, the lowest gear was selected, I made it over the cattle grid (some don't) and the real climbing began. So the trick is to only pedal hard when you absolutely have to, it all felt hard now though! There was a tailwind though, passed lots of walkers, push push, breathe! I zig zagged and twisted and turned, shouted at people to move to the side and stayed on the bike. The steepest bit (30 %) just caught Simon out so he waited at the top and cheered me up it, I couldn't talk at all. That was it, I was not stopping now, I kept going, pushing and  pulling, finally the top arrived I had WON! Euphoria came over me. Its hard to whoosh down the other side, its super steep with hairpins, burning rubber from brake blocks style.

You can see Wrynose in front straight away, its steep but shorter than Hardknott. I was still high from Hardknott, the tailwind helped, even pushed extra hard when I didn't have to so the wind carried me up like a pro! High five at the top of Wrynose, 10 miles to go. We just went along as best we could, its not flat so still challenging. We ate gels and chews and pedaled. The lambs were bouncing around in the fields and I loved watching them. Finally the end was in sight, bit of a blur really, under an inflatable arch I think, Emma and others cheering us in.

Absolutely overcome with sense of achievement and excitement. 10 hours and 22 mins. After recovering Emma and I cycled 2.5 miles back to the campsite in the rain.... so I actually rode 117 miles:) I can honestly say I enjoyed nearly every minute, I was always going to finish and the experience will be left with me forever, all the hard training was worth it . The total raised for Macmillan is currently at £3390 and is still growing.  I have paid back the money they gave me with  huge interest so others can benefit too. I have learnt that if you want to do something and commit to it the chances are you will succeed, you don't really have to have a special ability just sheer determination! If you still want to donate please click here, it really will make a difference.

Now I'm looking forward to just riding my bike!

Thank you to..... My wonderful Emma who guided me through this, sacrificing training at her pace (she did  it in 7hrs 31mins!) by training with me. I definitely wouldn't have done it without her constant encouragement, belief in me and her tolerance of me being tired and grumpy at times!

Everyone who donated.... I am still overwhelmed by the total so far.

Simon for being a great riding buddy on the

day and supporting my nerves:)

Garage bikes for my new tyres and zipvit energy chews-we had no punctures:)

Saddleback for supplying my new saddle bag:)

Upgrade and Kinesis Uk for the Lezyne pump which I stole from Emma!

Cliff bars which I also stole from Emma's stash-yum.

Jen, Steph, Issy, Amanda, Kath, Gemma and Sarah for being fantastic supporters.:)

9 days and counting to the Fred!

The clock is ticking now as the "Fred" gets closer and closer. I think my heart rate increases slightly when I just think about it now, a mixture of excitement and nerves. I am overwhelmed by the support I have had emotionally and in donations. My total raised so far has passed £2100, which is incredible and I hope it grows even more. All donations big and small are deeply  appreciated from my heart so thank you. I have had some very generous anonymous donations, for example £112 , £1 per mile from a fellow Fred rider! A page 3 girl I think the very hard work has been done, just need to keep turning the legs this week/weekend. I have asked anyone religious to pray for good  weather,  if  not it will be a long day,  maybe two,  as I will do it regardless!

I have been super lucky and received new tyres and 16 packets of Zipvit energy sweets from Garage Bikes, Morley which is super kind, I hope I don't need all 16! Thanks Garage Bikes!

So, bring it on and let me get to the start line, I'm going to do my best to enjoy it all, including Hardknott!

Things i'm worried about:-

1) keeping my breakfast down 2) being too cold or too hot 3) legs feeling rubbish 4) climbing Hardknott with 100 miles in my legs

Things i'm excited about:-

1) Just starting 2) being part of something big 3) getting to the top of each climb 4) seeing  friends support me and strangers cheering 5) FINISHING!

If you have not donated yet and would like to please click here. Even £1 would be fantastic.  Thank you. 

Everyday training camp-my riding

I was asked again by Jo and Steven of Everyday Training to assist on their training camp in Lanzarote this year. This is a volume based training camp for long distant triathletes (mostly ironman level 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run-this is a tough event!) Basically the athletes have to do 30 hours of training in 6 days, swim, ride and run each day, including races and time trials, it is not for the unfit and they have paid a lot of money to do it!  My job was to hold  a stretch and recovery class at the end of each day and offer physio to anyone who needed it-lets face it with that number of hours of training a few aches and pains were going present themselves. I will write another little post about the injuries I treated. It also gave me the chance to get a few kilometres in the bank myself, I just didn't know how many. I was quite anxious about riding with these super athletes but knew it would be great 'Fred' training. This post is in Km as we were in Europe, 10km is 6.2 miles, 40km is 25 miles. The first day consists of 68km with a 10 mile time trial (TT is still in miles just to confuse things!) to assess how fast the athletes are on the bike. Last year I hated it, the athletes were so fast and whooshed off before we even got to the start, I didn't do the practice lap , one was enough! This year I did it all and although I was last, only just and even in rougher conditions did a PB by 3 minutes. This reassured me that I had improved a lot and maybe I would cope riding every other day.  Sarah the massage therapist from last year, and now a firm friend,  was training for her first Ironman ( coached by Steven), it appeared we were quite similar on the bike and we both found huge support in each other. The first stretch class was great by the pool and helped eased some initial muscle soreness in preparation for day 2.

I was fired up a bit from the TT and wanted to ride again so committed to day 2. 121km ride with a fair bit of climb, just what I need. It was incredibly windy and we had to work together in our  little group of 5, riding each others wheels to reduce the wind effect as much as possible. The wind can be quite soul destroying but everybody is feeling the same so you just have to accept it. I found the long flat roads challenging,  as my training has obviously not involved a lot of this!   I worked hard with a constant burning feeling in my quads. The top of  Tabyesco (volcano) was covered in mist but a welcome coke and apple pie break.

Day 3, 87km with a steep hill climb Fermes. Somehow I got into my cycle kit again and off we went. My bottom was sore, my muscles ached and I was tired but everyone else was saying the same and they had been running and swimming too. Steven and Jo were enjoying my participation and were encouraging me to ride ( huge compliment as they are both awesome athletes) Well Fermes was steep but if I'm honest it was a bit of a molehill compared to the lakes climbs but with tired legs once was enough! The stretch class was getting harder for most now as muscles were tightening with the intensity of training.

Day 4, I managed to get myself into a pickle at this point  because today was the timed hill climb and I wanted to do this but this meant cycling 4 days in a row, at pace. I've never cycled more that 2 days  in  a row before, thinking it would kill me! Dragged (encouraged) by a lot of people once again I was riding. 99km today with a 10km timed hill climb. I was intrigued how the body would perform when pushed in an  already tired state and asking for a rest! Last year I did the hill climb with the aim of just getting to the top before the end of the afternoon, this year I wanted to to do better. Everyone is set off in 1 minute intervals, I was first. 3, 2, 1 GO! I can't tell how strong the wind was on the switch backs, round the corner and having to get out of the saddle to keep moving forwards-laughable! But a tailwind round the next corner was fabulous recovery and a chance to speed up. As I pedalled I blocked the requests from my legs to stop and just kept going, it was only in the last 1km really that a few people passed me, each one encouraging  a bit more effort. Seeing Jo at the top shouting away was uplifting and one last surge got me to the top. I wasn't last! In fact I think I beat a couple of people but most importantly I had beaten myself- I win! So you can push hard with tired legs but your mind has to be powerful to over rule them.

Day 5, I really wanted to do day 6 which was the whole ironman route so chose to have a rest day today. I just lazed around a bit, reading and listening to music with my feet up-bliss. The athletes had a 10km race to do in the afternoon so I helped time that as Jo and Steven competed.

Day 6,  quite nervous. Preparation for a 180Km (112 miles) ride normally would be a good few days of not a lot for me so having ridden the previous 4 days, done a TT and a hill climb I was anxious I may not make it! Well if I have to turn back I can. It was a long long ride with awful wind conditions (changing direction half way through so there was a headwind the whole way), muscles  screamed most of the time, and I visited interesting places mentally.  I had a dodgy moment with 25 miles to go at a garage. At times like this I really question what's it all about? Why am I not happy sunbathing on the beach, that would be so easy! This is so unpleasant, why am I putting myself through this? The answer I come back to always is because I can. I am healthy enough to try and thats where it gets me back on track. I'm doing something and feeling life and the good feelings are much higher after this than if I had been sunbathing!  I had to recall the previous  time I had felt like this, few deep breaths, eat, drink and get back on the bike,  the group were so lovely and it perked me up to keep going. Sarah and I often exchanged grunts knowing that talking was not an option and we were at our limit.  The relief of the last 10 miles being downhill was unbelievable, the mood of the group changed instantly, chatting again, laughing, relishing the achievement.

Finishing nearly made me cry with joy! I won. There was no stretching class today, we partied instead!

I was incredibly tired for a week and worried about working as I was very busy but I managed it by sleeping a lot, eating well and stretching! I didn't ride for a week, felt strong for the first 35 mile ride yesterday. I learnt a lot about my body and mind and feel I'm ready to face Hardknott and its 33% gradients next sunday so bring it on!

If  you would like to donate for Macmillan please click here, every penny counts so even £1 would be really appreciated and I am working hard for it!

Lycra and cleats to dress and heels!

At the weekend I swapped my lycra and cleats for a dress and heels for my sisters wedding in Innsbruck, Austria. We arrived on Thursday and within a couple of hours Emma had found the bike shop and hired a city bike to take up the mountain the next day ( it was that or a mountain bike!) She kept asking me if I wanted to go too, even for just a couple of hours, it was beautifully sunny and the mountainous scenery looked amazing.  I was tempted but I said I would hang out with my sister, keep her calm, go to the hairdresser with her etc. Emma went off all excited about her adventure. The thing is though, when I was ill my sister was there 100% and sacrificed a lot to be with me at the drop of a hat when I needed her. It was worth a thousand rides on a bike. So I had a great day with my sis, the last day we would be the Mills sisters ( she is now Mrs Lee) The wedding was fabulous.

This week is busy with patients so training will difficult to fit in but I am off to Lanzarote on Saturday to provide physio on the EDT training camp for triathletes. Back into lycra and cleats I will get a chance to ride in the sun and  bank some miles, keeping my legs turning over before more climbing practice at home.

Thank you so much for all the donations so far for Macmillan. if you can spare even £1 click here it really will help push me up Hardknott!

Anxiety and Euphoria

If i'm honest I was really anxious about this ride, 94 miles with 5 passes in it, it was turning up the heat again and let's face it the last couple of rides have not been a breeze! I have ridden in the Lakes before but not since last September,  and not with so much climbing. By now I have made the passes into absolute monsters and the mere thought of them was making my heart race and turn my tummy into knots. We drove up friday night in Snail and stayed by the lake in Thirlmere, quiet as anything, lovely. Sleep came and went, thoughts of the ride going round and round, will I make it up Honister twice? Will my legs feel like lead at 40 miles again?  I really really hoped not!

As usual the porridge was hard to stomach but necessary fuel, my pockets were crammed with energy supplies, the Garmin 800 was set to go, I was well excited by the new toy,  a present to myself for enduring this training! It also meant I would always know the way with its OS map on it and this is very calming for my anxious mind!

I've always been an anxious type in certain situations and sometimes the adrenalin hangs around a bit more than it should, taking my body longer to calm down so I was pleased that the first part of the ride was not too challenging, including Kirkstone pass. We made our way along to Keswick, enjoying the awesome scenery. 40 miles done, legs ok, drinking lots and eating regularly. A quick cup of tea at The Lakeland Pedallar

and off to find Honister for the first time. And so the mighty monster pass came into view, I started chatting to myself, take it steady Mills, sit down as long as possible with intermittent standing, zig zag across and one section at a time, do not panic it will not help.

Got to the top, euphoria hit and I was committed to the ride. A friend joined us at the top which was nice so we were now the three musketeers.

I had been told Newlands pass wasn't too hard, it went on a bit but was ok, Whinlatter I am familiar with and I thought I'd get a Coke at the top. No Coke available, organic elderflower pop? I don't think thats quite going to hit the spot somehow.

Now I know I only have to do Honister from the other side then roll back to Keswick, I've done about 65 miles now and I'm feeling good, I'm going to have this Honister and then get back to Snail quick sharp. I started to fade a bit near the start of Honister, that familiar draggy feeling in the legs, bit tired, anxiety starts.  I backed off a bit, learning from last time that this is ok to do. Ahead Emma pulled in, a cafe that sold Coke! Yes this hit the spot and I was firing on all cylinders again, bring it on! The pass looks majestic in the distance and it invites me to climb it. I know i'm going to do it, I just know.

At the top the euphoria hits again, I win! I whoosh down whooping out loud, I am delighted!

The ride back to Keswick felt longer than it was and the little kick out of Keswick was tougher than expected,  but I kept pushing and finally I saw Snail in the distance. 94 miles, about 10,000ft climbing, lots of bars, fluid, gels, chews and Coke! I can't tell you how ecstatic it felt to have a ride like that, just got to add another 20 miles, Hardknott and Wrynose...................

If you would like to donate to Macmillan please click here it will really help the quality of somebody's life and encourage me up those last two monster passes with more Euphoria than anxiety.

Balancing Demons

So last wednesday was my leap ride, another attempt to bank some miles and add a few climbs too. Felt a lot better and  again keen to get at it, it was weirdly mild and nice to not have so many layers on.  Plan was  70 miles including Park Rash, hill climb rated 9/10, via the Dales Bike Centre for cake! Park Rash came along soon, a gel carefully timed to take action on the hairpins. Something I have learnt is that to climb steep hills having  balance is a huge advantage. I can control the bike at very low speeds which allows me to catch my breath and remain steady, not wasting energy on having to push harder to ride faster where less balance is needed. This comes from the core work I have done over the years and some natural ability I think.  I zig zag my way up, looking far enough ahead to see the best line and where the 'rests' are ( a gradient of 18% is a rest from 25%!), I try to keep calm and keep breathing under control, often singing to myself to get a sort of rhythm. I just take one bit at a time and try not to look too far ahead and freak myself out with how far there is to go and how steep! These type of climbs are very energy draining and the most exhilarating to get to the top of, I usually announce loudly  'I win!' meaning I have beaten  the climb. So, I managed Park Rash ok, however the thought of Hardknott and Wrynose are scaring the sh*t out of me still!

Following a lovely stop at the Dales Bike Centre where we refueled the steep climb out was really testing and I had that awful sinking feeling of empty legs etc After 50 miles and a  long stretch of a headwind on a gradual incline I was crying  into my handlebars for the first time. I honestly felt broken. How on earth was I going to get back to the van in Gargrave? Where had this feeling come from? If there had a been a train station there I would of got on it. I battled with it, it was a new sensation, completely lost and trapped in my head with a body not responding. Emma said I had to go there at some point to get stronger- I hated it. There was no train station so there was no choice, 30 miles to go. Forced more food in and kept pedaling. Had to have a really stern chat with myself about how I have been to darker places and this is why I was doing it, because I was healthy enough to try. I climbed more hills, swore a bit, laughed at the extremity of it and of course got back to the van, I will never forget that place and that demon can help me round the 80-90 miles planned for the lake district this weekend.

Again, thank you so much to those of you that have donated already, if you have not and would like to please click here. It is for Macmillan and they really help people with a different set of demons


Knowing when to stop riding

Following on from my distinct lack of energy last weekend I broke out in the winter lurgy  and have felt pretty rotten all week. It comforted me in a way because it explained the strain of last weeks ride but was it was frustrating as no riding was possible all week. I began to feel anxious about not getting the riding or the climbing in that I think I should, time is ticking away and the 13th May is looming closer and closer, I'm sure I dreamt about Hardknott the other night! (nightmare really) Based on these emotions I was keen to get 70 miles in today which included the Park Rash and Askrigg climbs, I was still coughing a bit but felt well enough and legs were ready for battle. Plans had to change slightly, Emma had a mechanical,  we were going nowhere. JD tandems diagnosed, we drove to Ilkley,  JD cycles fixed it,  all very quickly which was fabulous, drove back to Carleton to start a modified 50 mile ride, slightly annoying but that's life.

Finally set off. After 12 miles my heart rate was a bit crazy and I felt breathless, in my mind I told myself I was just getting nervous about the whole thing, i'll just keep going, it will pass, it will be fine. It wasn't. Emma's bike started playing up again, we stopped, my heart rate was high and taking a long time to recover, still breathless. Time to turn round. Total ridden 18 miles, minimal climb. I get the feeling it was just too soon and the 18 miles were not detrimental, it was just never going to be more than that without negative consequences.

Reading other riders tweets etc about their 80 mile rides today makes me feel envious and a bit worried. I know I did the right thing stopping, I have seen athletes who don't stop and it takes them forever to regain their normal energy levels etc. On this basis though I will continue with stretching and core work over the next couple of days, drink camomile tea to stay calm and because wednesday is 29th february,  an extra day really, I'm  going to take most of it off work and take myself riding! Thank you so much to all those that have donated already, if you have not and would like to to please click here

Sunshine versus legs

What an amazing treat the sunshine was yesterday. It's what cyclists dream of. Alarm was set for 6.45am (groan-not an early morning person, especially on a sunday) Arrived in Gargrave, filled pockets with gels, bars and map, hit start on the Garmin and off we went. Plan was to do 70 miles with some climbs of course, a circular route via Hawes. It was practically 2 years to the day I did my first ride in the Dales, the scenery and roads were one of the reasons I decided to leave the big smoke and move North. I cycled 45 miles on a borrowed bike, probably in about 10 hours and it nearly killed me!

Anyway back to this ride. First 30 miles were not too bad, legs were complaining uphill a bit but that can be normal. Tried not to look at Garmin and enjoy the views, breathtaking. Climbed Fleet Moss-the easy way, felt completely zapped of any energy despite a gel and bar. Stopped in Hawes, Emma says we need to stop cafe stopping, welcome to training not leisure riding! I was keen to get going as I just wanted to get it over with to be honest. The drag out of Hawes left me feeling a bit soul destroyed, headwind didn't help, legs empty. Negative thoughts in abundance I drew on the reason I was doing it and pushed through, looking around at the beauty.  Managed a good climb near the end, the hairpins out of Langcliffe,  which made me feel like I had achieved something, really got a good line and felt strong a the top. 68 miles later, 6800ft climb and I was drinking recovery in the van. I really hope I feel stronger for the next ride, the enormity of this challenge really hit me yesterday but thats a good thing, make me train more! Sponsorship really helps with encouragement up the hills so if you can donate I would be so grateful.

Donate now here for Macmillan

A short ride with a lot of hills!

I had a reasonable ride planned, weather permitting. We headed for Gargrave, whether it was the late night before or general fatigue my legs felt like lead. 27 miles later we arrived at The Dalesman-thank god, refueled and then wanted to sleep by the fire. So the plan was to go home the flatter way, lets just avoid that main road though........ legs perked up a bit with a few energy products and suddenly we were in this super hilly 30 miles. It was tough but by doing it I faced a couple of demons and I won, put them in my mind for future reference. I nearly stopped up "big Jack", but I didn't. I pushed when there was no feeling of push. 55 miles and 7000ft climb deserved pizza at the end. I just have to do that twice for the Fred Whitton.

Currently on 3rd cup of tea this monday morning....

Please click here to donate to Macmillan

Night Score

Did some mad running around in the dark last night, a small 90 minute score event organised by Calder Valley Runnning club. 90 minutes to find as many controls as you can and get back to the start. Penalty for being late.  I'm not very good in the daylight when I can see all the walls, woods, landmarks etc ( those things that help you know where you are)  so in the dark was going to be interesting! Headtorch on, map in one hand, GO! We actually did ok, didn't come last which was a distinct possibility, ran 4 miles, giggled a lot and ate and drank in the pub after. It was fun seeing all the headtorches bobbing around in the distance on the fell. Tired legs today.....must stretch and use my my foam roller:)