Posted by: Kerry | June 8, 2010

Awesome

Those who know me, know that I use the word “Awesome” a lot! I looked up the word “awesome”, just so I could really understand what I am always saying, and this is it:

Awesome: Adjective. Meaning inspiring awe or admiration or wonder

As part of my training for the El Camino De Santiago, my good friend Colin asked me if I wanted to join him at a spinning class. Spinning classes are exercising on specially designed stationary bikes with variable resistance. It really is an intense workout, and once the class starts the momentum never lets up. Depending on the whim of the instructor, you will find you are either sprinting on the flat or enduring the mountain leg of the Tour de France, but inevitably swept along by the beat of the music and the buzz in the room.

The instructor was my kind of person. Absolutely Mad as a Hatter! She was able to do the work out with us as well as play DJ and pass out instructions with a smile on her face. Just when you thought you could not possibly do anymore, she would edge you on and motivate you to push through the pain.

I learnt a technique from her that really works. She asked us to pretend we were being punched in the tummy, but instead of tensing our muscles and instinctively leaning forward, we were just to tense the muscles and keep perfectly upright. She applied this theory the tummy, side and back muscles. The facial expressions when we were doing this was hilarious and we all looked constipated.

While spinning, I applied this technique and oh my goodness, it really works. It took the edge off the pain in my legs and I felt more in control and confident. Anyone who is a cyclist, please try it!

By the end of the hour-long class, I was as red as a beetroot and I could have rung my clothes out. My legs were like jelly and I had a huge problem standing at first. The only word I can think of to possible describe the feeling is AWESOME!!!

 

Posted by: Kerry | June 1, 2010

Damsel in Distress

Week two of training already! I am not sure I feel any fitter yet. Perhaps the fact that my body feels a lot older and my bottom a lot more bruised is not helping!

I had a really good training day on Saturday with Andy (Personal Trainer and cyclist). He sent me an e-mail last week asking if I wanted to tag along on a recce he was doing for one of his clients, just for fun, and not too much work, only a nice ride around where he could give me some good advice and tips on using “the bike”.

Well this was no little ride around! I think he lead me into a false sense of security only to so he could laugh at how many times I landed in the mud. No word of a lie, we went on the road, off the road, over fallen trees, into the forest, through the rain, in the mud, and all back again. WOW! It was so much fun!

I felt pain in my legs I did not know was possible and looked like I had been dragged through a bush backwards, but I think I have certainly found what I love. Mud! I just don’t think I could ride on the road after Saturday and enjoy it without the mud.

So here he is! The man is question for causes me both pain I cant explain and pure delight all at the same time…

Now I know he looks totally innocent and you may say he would never hurt a fly. Well you would be mistaken!

 Dont be fooled my this cheerful demure! This kind face made my body work like a working thing and even when I pulled the “damsel in distress” card on him, he did not batter and eye lid. I tried everything in the book to get just a little pitty for my tired muscles, but nothing! And believe it or not, I am so glad he didn’t.

I pushed myself further than I thought I could. He just has a way of saying the right things at the right time to get you going again. I truly think if he was not with me on Saturday I would have never achieved what I did. As a result, I am very proud to announce that we did 21km that day in under two hours!

I am so grateful for Andy’s guidance that I can’t imagine what I can do in return for his generosity and kindness. The falling in the mud and my silly sense of humour will have to do.

Now you may all be thinking if ever the “damsel in distress” card works! For all the ladies out there, never give up as is eventually does, and I have the pictures to prove it. I managed to convince him to strap my bike back to the car for me while I casually took pictures for evidence. Hee Hee Hee

 

 If you are brave enough to need Andy’s service’s please visit his website on www.fitterbyfar.co.uk  , it really is worth the call!

Thank you Andy, your advice and support is invaluable! Until the next time!

Posted by: Kerry | May 27, 2010

The “big train” has begun

What a crazy few days I have had this week. I have had so much support and encouragement to do this cycle trip that I have had a few girly moments of tears of happiness.

I started the training (cycling aimlessly around) for El Camino De Santiago officially on Monday 24th May 2010, and its been fantastic and exhilarating while maintaining huge amounts of physical pain and bug swallowing. Before this training, I would see people cycling around and think to myself how much fun its looks, but never think about how much effort and strength it takes. 

Monday was a day of success and I felt so proud of myself to have cycled further than the bottom of my road. Trust me, this is a huge achievement. I have not yet fitted my kilometre measuring thingy-me-bob yet, but I believe I did 5 miles, about 8 km’s. Yes, yes I have heard that is not much and considering I will have to average 50km a day in silly temperatures of 35 degrees or more and I agree it is not a lot in the big scheme of things.

But, worry not! Progression is my middle name and on Tuesday a good friend of mine. Colin, took me out on one of his cycle rides, which I believe was 8 miles/12km. To add salt to the wound, I got my first lesson on bike repairs on this trip. My chain came off twice. Yes you heard me! I have never had to put a chain back on in my life, so it was, well, interesting! On Wednesday I went out on my own and found myself lost on some farm roads, so not really sure how many km I did. I like to think it was a bit more than Tuesday.

See full size imageI also got a bit cocky yesterday, as you do, and nearly came off the bike on a really busy road. I was too busy smiling at how “cool” I thought I looked and thought I would speed up at test this little bit of mastery underneath me and hit the smallest change in the road surface. This is the only way I can describe the feeling. Have you ever let go of a hose with the water on full power? It swings around like crazy while you jump around like a loon trying to catch it without getting drenched. Well the bike was the hose pipe and I was riding it! Yeeeehaaaa!

So far this week has been a week full of lessons. Some that were out of my hands and other that I created. I consider myself taught.

PS: If you are like me and need help with converting miles to kilometres, try this link:

http://www.convertunits.com/from/miles/to/km

Posted by: Kerry | May 26, 2010

Sometimes in life…

Sometimes in life if you open your eyes you feel totally blessed and privileged.

I only decided to do this cycle a few weeks ago and it has been so scary to think about. I have had tears about it, thoughts of abandoning my kids for the two weeks, anger at myself for not training earlier, and so on. During this time I have met so many wonderful people. People who have offered help in the way that they can, to make my dream and adventure possible. I have been in total awe at the shear generosity people have and offered to someone who they hardly know.

  • My husband has supported my decision to go on this trip even though he will have to “play Mum” for two weeks.
  • Andy whose surname I don’t even know, has offered his expertise and advice to me even though I only met him a few days ago. He has also offered to take me out on the bike to help me with my training.
  • Cycle Kingdom where I bought all my gear, have offered to teach me how to dismantle my bike, change a snapped chain, fix a puncture, advice on energy supplements and so much more.
  • A friend of mine Colin who is a cyclist himself, took me out last night for a long ride and offered to take me off-road to build my confidence and to take me to spinning classes to build up my strength.
  • My friends on Facebook who have offered their support and encouragement and who have sent me personal messages to wish me well.
  • My friend Tammy who has inspired me with her work to help others while embarking on this adventure.

Sometimes in life we all get down and feel the world is against us, but if we just open I eyes to the wonderful people around us and let “them” in, we realise we are all in this together, helping each other.

Sometimes in life, life shows us just how amazing it is!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it” William Arthur Ward

Posted by: Kerry | May 24, 2010

Intiation completed

After a busy day at work and with temperatures that would melt tarmac, I have been excited all day to go for a ride on “the bike” and try out some of the cycle thingies I bought the other day.

As expected the padded cycling shorts were like wearing a nappy at the age of 30, and my husband found the look hilarious. The bright pink cycling vest fit snug and to finish the outfit my new £140 Specialized sunglasses. If you don’t mind me saying so myself, I think I looked the part. I think I may use this picture again as a before the trip and after the trip. I am sure the difference will be great.  

I decided to cycle to a little village near by, as it has a lot of up and down and thought it would be relatively easy in this heat. How wrong was I? It was so so much fun but my goodness the £50 pair of padded cycling shorts are not doing what they say on the tin. OUCH!

The sunglasses were fantastic! I could not feel them on my face at all and from previous riding experience, having bugs in your eye is not a good idea while navigating rocks. I can officially say my eyes are bug free. One problem though, it’s seems to me that when my eyes are protected from the bugs on a suicide mission, my mouth opens. I think I can safely say, I have well and truly been initiated into cycle world, earned my stars, proven my strength! When the first bug hit the back of my throat I accepted this as a leaning curve and swiftly drank a bottle of water to wash it down with, but then the second? How could I make the same mistake twice?

So to summerise:

1 x husband finding the padded pants funny…check

1 x very bruised bottom…check

2 x bugs swallowed…done!

Posted by: Kerry | May 24, 2010

The little things sometimes matter more

After amazing sunshine in the UK we were invited to a good friend of mine I have known for many years, birthday party. It was so lovely to see him and his better half but I got so much more out of his party I did not expect.

Little did I know but Nick has got some very amazing and interesting friends. As we all do when we meet people the usual questions is, “So what do you do?” After passing time with the standard questions I discovered that I was sitting next to a professional cyclist and Personal Trainer. He overheard me telling my story and how I was scared and very unprepared for the cycle. He very kindly offered his advice on things I would have never of thought of, due to my lack of experience.

Once again I was met with faces of, “You are out of your mind!”, and yet this amazing cyclist and Personal Trainer offered not criticism but real advice. He asked me some basic questions and took real interest in what I was saying. He told me all the things I should consider to do this safely. Little did I know that the best energy gels to have on the trip are called “Go” because they are water-soluble and will not upset my tummy. Nor did I realise I should be taking them now long before the race to help my body get use to them as I will be having one on the hour every hour. He even explained how I must practice to open the packet while cycling so that I don’t have to stop.

Another realisation and this one was hard to swallow, is that I have to put on weight! Now that is something a woman does not hear often. The big question for me was, how to put on weight. My ignorance instantly made me think I am going to have to eat Mc Donalds burgers and KFC and if you knew me, you would know that this is my nightmare. It turns out I need to look into this more, but at the moment I have to increase the quantity of food I put into my mouth, not sacrifice the quality. Thank goodness! I currently weight 8 stone 10 ounces and need to increase that to around 10 stone. I realise that does not sound like a lot but when you are a person who loses weight by just breathing, you will realise the challenge ahead. So I am on a mission to put on weight, so if anyone has some healthy advice on how to achieve this in just over a month, I would be really grateful. Never would I have thought of these things.

Not only did he offer me advice about these things, but he also offered his ear while I am on the trip, if I ever find myself in trouble. How often to do you find people in this “dog eat dog” world who offer their expertise with no hidden agenda?

The world offers so much and things just fall into place if you focus on it enough. I am truly amazed! The smallest things are sometimes the most valuable! I am so grateful for the advice.

Posted by: Kerry | May 21, 2010

It’s real!

Today was a strange and scary day. I woke up feeling very apprehensive about doing this cycle and thinking about all the things they could go wrong. Why on earth would I want to go and cycle over 400km in two weeks when I could be sitting in the sun with my family enjoying the only two weeks of sun we have here in the UK?

After a shower and a rush around, all the thoughts I was having magically disappeared and I was on my way to the cycle shop to buy some of the gear for the trip. Once again I was met with faces which clearly said without words, “this woman is insane”, but I persevered with a bit of charm and had a wonderful time spending money buying all the gizmo’s and gadget’s I need, well want, er, need! After trying on all the shop had to offer and receiving excellent advice from the staff, I walked away with handfuls of bags and £670 less money I had two hours ago. Awesome!

When I got home I decided to try on the black cycling shorts and vest I bought, and have never laughed so loud in all my life! Truly a “had to be there moment”. Sorry about this next comment for all the men readers, but it felt like I was wearing a gigantic sanitary towel in my shorts, and I mean gigantic. Ladies you know what I mean, times that by ten. There is so much padding to protect our little bottom, its silly!

Whilst going through all my news bits, it dawned on me. Here I am and this is real now. If anything, I could not possibly turn back now after spending all this money on things I cannot ever pronounce, and I think I am internally craving the approval of the people who are closest to me. I would love them to be proud of me for doing this when it is clearly something very scary to do. I am sure they are proud of me already, so maybe its me wanting to be proud of me? Either way it’s happening and I can’t help it but sense of excitement now. Let the count down begin!

Posted by: Kerry | May 19, 2010

Decision made!

Decisions, decisions, decisions! I finally decided to do the El Camino De Santiago about a week ago, but have been struggling since, on how to do it. There were two choices for me. Walk it or cycle it. After endless and quite painful internet searching, I came across so many personal blogs and community forums discussing everything but what underwear to take with you, well actually there was some discussion on that too.

The biggest problem I am finding is, there is so much of an overload of information out there about the subject that’s it’s so overwhelming. Everyone has a different opinion and different experience, that it so difficult to figure out which is the best and safest way to do this.

I went to the local bike shop Cycle Kingdom  http://www.cyclekingdom.co.uk/index.php and took up all of their time and demanded all of their attention as i do, and received the best advice on safety and essentials. They promptly told me that a hair brush, deodorant and mascara is a no-no and replaced it with Alfara Pocket Rocket lightweight waterproof jacket, Panniers, Abus Milenio Locking System, base layers and Chamois Cream. Yes you heard me, Chamois Cream! If you don’t know what that is, it’s probably for the best really. The cream and where to put it was not the biggest shock though. The cost of all this stuff was! £864.00 to be precise.

So i toddled off home with a cunning plan on how to convince the purse string holder of the household, to hand over the cheque book and send me on my way.

Convincing done, cheque book in hand, I had doubts again if I should cycle or walk. Why you ask, well I have not owned a bike since I was about 10 years old and only just bought my nice new one 2 weeks ago, and since I will be cycling over 400km, it a bit of a challenge. I have been using these home-grown legs of mine fo 30 years now and we have a good relationship.

So naturally i asked my husband Mike to make the decision for me, and naturally he said to me, “It’s a personal decision and its up to you”, followed by, “what’s your gut telling you?” Now is it just me or is that the most annoying response ever? So, without trying to over analyse this I made a decision and had a huge realisation.

I will cycle so I can see more in the two weeks apposed to walking and I am afraid to say it, my husband was right again. It is about my gut feeling and this adventure is so personal to me. So all that information out there that I found so overwelming, suddenly became fasinating and I could not put my computer down.  It’s “their” story! And this is mine!

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