Fortune favours the brave... absolutely 100% correct, bang on, dead right and especially so when it comes to outdoor adventures. We are all guilty of looking out the window, seeing some weather which doesn't excite us before heading straight for the kettle and an afternoon in front of the TV! Don't get me wrong, sometimes you need the afternoon recovering from the strains of modern life but more often than not we should be chasing the same effect in the outdoors.
This weekend I knew the snow was coming and after a busy week decided that I would be out the door in Bath before dawn. It paid off in spades... I was out from 6am until 6pm starting with a walk enjoying a sleeping city blanketed in snow before taking an visiting american family for a guided walk in the hills overlooking the city and then a guided cycle tour with a british family enjoying a birthday weekend in Bath.
The rewards for me were huge, experienced Bath when it was utterly at peace under a pristine white sheet before meeting 2 fun and hugely enjoyable groups, game on for a winter adventure. Both groups got to see an amazing city in its full winter plumage with a sprinkling of local history, wildlife and culture from you're truly.
We all won over the weekend, well done us :)
With Bath fast becoming one of the top outdoor destinations in the South West, surrounded by stunning countryside and waterways, there’s no excuse not to get out and explore in whatever way and whichever sport you choose – by running, cycling, swimming or walking.
Bath and its surrounds has everything a triathlete needs for a fun training weekend. The Olympic-sized swimming pool at the University of Bath, quiet and smooth tarmac roads in the Cotswolds and a mix of traffic-free paths along the canal and hillside tracks mean quality resources in a beautiful setting. This will transform even the hardest session into pure enjoyment!
Mountain bikers and road cyclists are spoilt for choice with Bath boasting top quality routes, from city-based to country hills. A mixed network of bridleways and cycle paths including the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path, The Colliers Way and the Kennet and Avon Canal journey through scenic, traffic-free countryside. Bath is also home to the Global Cycling Network or GCN – fans and followers may recognise local scenery from their videos.
Recreational, trail and ultra runners
From the city centre, runners and joggers can easily access the network of tracks along the Avon Valley and into the hills to enjoy a mix of meadow and woodland trails. With some seriously steep climbs within a short distance of Bath, even the most hardcore athlete will find a challenging route! Fancy a race weekend? Why not try the Bath Half Marathon held annually in March?
Walkers, hikers and ramblers
A number of the country’s long-distance walking paths are accessible from Bath or within easy reach by public transport. The Cotswold Way, Limestone Link and Macmillan Way provide numerous routes through some of the region’s iconic countryside, not to mention offering delicious refreshments at cafés and pubs along the way!
Retail therapy and well earned recovery
Independent retailers such as Total Fitness and Running Bath will keep you on track, and you can recover from a hard day with relaxing spa options at Radiance Wellbeing and Thermae Bath Spa.
For your 2019 outdoor break, visit Bath for a fun, challenging and active experience worth making a habit of!
Bath is surrounded by 7 hills whilst being boxed in by the Cotswolds and Mendips making it one of the best city adventure playgrounds in the south of England. During the darker UK winter months trail running in the hills provides the perfect opportunity to get above the city and connect with blue sky again.
Solsbury Hill is one such hill, famous for its association with Prince Arthur, the Battle of Badon and Peter Gabriel. The hill dominates Bath from the north east providing panoramic views with a stunning view of the Avon Valley towards the Vale of Pewsey. Perfect for a 10km loop from the city or as the start or finish to a longer run incorporating footpaths and bridleways on the Cotswold Way and Limestone Link.
Bath is littered with footpaths leading from the city up into the hills so if you're visiting, get your nose into a map and start plan your next running adventure. If you like the idea of joining us for an adventure, get in touch and we'll put a bespoke run together for you.
#wildswimbikerun #microadventure #bathcity #visitbath #trailrunning #running
Bath locals have an ancient love affair with swimming stretching back to the ancient Celts. The first shrine at the thermal pools was dedicated to the god ‘Sulis’ and following the Roman invasion lead to Bath being named ‘Aquae Sulis’. You can’t enjoy a dip in the thermal waters of the Roman Baths anymore but you can enjoy amazing swimming experiences all year round. Here are some of our favourites:
The Olympic experience at Bath University ‘London 2012 Legacy’ Swimming Pool
This amazing 50 metre swimming pool is home to a British Swimming National Training Centre where some of Britain’s top swimmers are based including Rio 2016 medallists Jazz Carlin, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Chris Walker-Hebborn, James Guy and reigning British Champion Anna Hopkin.
Whether you just want a swim or would like to improve your technique through coaching you are spoilt for choice in this national centre of excellence. Physiotherapy and sports massage sessions are also available for a bit of essential body maintenance!
See link for more information - www.teambath.com/about/prices-bookings/swimming/
Wild Swimming at Warleigh Weir (Claverton Weir)
Set in the stunning Avon Valley the weir can be reached from the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath on foot or by bike from Bath. The weir comes alive in late spring with insect and birdlife allowing you to immerse yourself in a classic English landscape. The weir has shallow bathing area and grassy area to sunbath, a kind local farmer permitting access to the weir so please ensure you ‘leave only footprints’ and remove all litter.
Georgian bathing site at Cleveland ‘Pleasure’ Pools
Built in 1815 these are believed to be the oldest outdoor swimming pool in England and Grade II listed. In 2013 an appeal to raise £3 million was launched with hopes for future visitors to Bath being able to enjoy the same pleasures as ‘Georgian Bathers’. Tours of the pools are available from ‘Visit Bath’ with all proceeds going to the Cleveland Pools Trust.
See link for more information - www.clevelandpools.org.uk
Treat yourself in the waters at Thermae Bath Spa
After seeing how the Romans bathed at the museum treat yourself to the relaxing waters of Thermae Bath Spa. Enjoy the same waters the Celts and Romans did 2000 years ago with the benefits of not having to keep a look out for marauding Saxons! With numerous spa packages available this makes for a truly luxurious way to reflect on a trip to Bath.
See link for more information - www.thermaebathspa.com
Open water swimming at Vobster Quay & Lake 32
If you want to get some serious swimming or training in both of these are a 30 minute drive from Bath but deliver everything you need for a quality session in the water. Vobster is a favourite of ours with its deep water and great facilities waterside including the bacon butty van!
See links for more information - www.vobster.com & www.ukwatersports.co.uk/triathlon-and-open-water-swimming/
Are you thinking about transforming yourself in 2018? Perhaps you are considering joining a gym, eating less, drinking less or some other resolution that will fizzle out in the first week of February.
Our advice is simple, make small changes that you can build on and find something you love doing. Find something that takes you outdoors, involves an adventure, brings you together with like minded souls, takes you to new places, challenges you, makes you sweat, gets you dirty, finishes with coffee & cake or gets rid of the stresses of modern life. Most important of all it needs to put a big smile on your face...
If you are really stuck and want some advice we would love to help. Our details are on our 'Contact Us' page.
Good luck all and have a cracking 2018.
As triathletes our very nature makes us difficult beasts to buy any kind of gift. Most of us are touched with a little ‘OCD’ further compounded by a sport which demands us to plan, organise and execute with meticulous/irritating detail.
We will also have researched and planned kit purchases with the efficiency of a commercial procurement team making your task even trickier. For this reason we have weighted our recommendations towards highly desirable stocking fillers and what we think is the ultimate triathlon bag to minimise any 'straight to ebay' Christmas gifts!
Orca Transition Bag - RRP £99
This triathlon bag was definitely the brainchild of a triathlete, loaded with clever organisational pockets and sleeves, comfortable to carry ensuring you have the ultimate mobile transition area wherever you are. We loved it so much we had to limit ourselves to 5 areas we particularly appreciated:
Zone 3 Elastic Laces - RRP £7
Controversial for some but they are relatively inexpensive and worth trying. We were sceptical about the benefits until we spent a bit of time (15 minutes max!) setting them up. In our experience, once set up correctly they provide a comfortable and secure fit. They are less bulky than laces and definitely make it easier to get you feet in/out of trainers. Unlike laces, once the trainer is on it very rarely needs any adjustment. A great stocking filler option and definitely worth experimentation.
Body Glide Anti-Chafing Stick - RRP £7-12 (Dependent on stick size)
This is a bit of a no brainer for us, skin lubricant alleviates chafing around your neck in wetsuit swims and in various spots during the run. It is also helpful for a swift T1 transition enabling your wetsuit to slip off your wrists and angles with greater ease. We have used bodyglide happily for years and haven’t felt the need to try anything else.
Zoggs Antifog Lens Cleanser - RRP £7
Foggy goggles can be the bane of a swimmers life and for some reason most of the swimmers we know don’t seem to do anything about it?? Anti-fog products are great and hold the fog at bay for 2-3 sessions. Much more important for open water swimmers as there is nothing more irritating than having a swim constantly interrupted by foggy goggles in deep water.
Bottle Cage Tool Holder - RRP £7-12
This is a bit of a no brainer as it can be used across different bikes and is a convenient way to keep your bike tools together. You can happily fit a couple of tubes, patches, small pump, CO2 pump, levers and multitool in this compact and well protected case. It's also less fiddly than some of the other tri-specific took kits on the market. KISS - Keep it simple stupid!
Finis Hand Paddles - RRP £15
This product is definitely one for triathletes without a swimming background. We trialled these paddles last summer in the pool and give them a big thumbs up. It's well worth chatting with a swimmer or coach about the use of swim training aides to ensure you use them correctly (and don't look like an idiot in the pool!). Just the fact that we had them during pool sessions was enough motivation to incorporate regular technique sessions into our programme.
We love a cycling product that does the job (really well), provides good value, takes a beating and makes riding a more pleasurable experience. The following 6 products have ticked every box and become riding essentials for us. If you are looking for a present for a mountain biker we're pretty sure they would be pleased with any of the below:
Specialized Tactic II Helmet - RRP £65
The Tactic is lightweight, comfortable with plenty of venting to keep you cool. The helmets height and micro adjustment features ensure a comfy secure fit. The webbing strap and clips are lightweight, easily adjustable and again provide a secure comfy fit. For a lightweight helmet it also provides good coverage at the rear of the helmet. The helmet has a sleek, low profile look which provides the final tick in the box for us. The lightweight, comfortable and well vented features of this helmet make it perfect for long, multi-day rides in the heat.
Crank Brothers M19 Multitool - RRP £29.99
We've been using the M19 for years and its still as good as the day it was bought. This is a bombproof work tool capable of dealing with most trailside adjustment and repairs. The hex and torx tools will support the majority of bolts you will find on any modern bike. The chain breaker is quick and easy to use as are the additional open wrench, spoke wrench and screwdriver functions. This is a tool that will not let you down and become a dependable riding companion for years to come. You can normally pick one up for about £21-23.
Osprey Raptor 14 Pack - RRP £125
We decided to test this pack after we converted from Camelbak to Osprey water reservoirs. We were looking for a pack that could carry 3 litres of water, enough warm clothing, food and tools to support long winter rides. The Raptor matched these criteria with ease and is rich in well laid out pouches and pockets. We especially like the separate tool roll, hip pockets and helmet retention clip. The pack has a secure and comfortable fit. Its narrow profile and mesh backing reduce overheating and a sweaty back. Definitely worth a visit to a local stockist to test for yourself before investing a hefty chunk of cash. We managed to pick this up in a sale for £79 with Wiggle which we think is about the right price so well worth shopping around for a good deal.
Topeak Mountain Morph Pump - RRP £31.99
With the increasing popularity of plus tyre mountain bikes its important to ensure that you have a large volume pump to match. The mountain morph dual action pump and semi-track pump style make short work of pumping up a 29 x 3.00 inch tyre. Its quite a long pump but its simple compact profile happily fits in your pack. People are constantly surprised how quickly this pumps up tyres from flat making short work of a flat tyre repair in cold, wet conditions. The Turbo and Mountain Morph pumps have provided us with years of reliable service. We managed to pick this up online in the low £20s. If you are riding in remote, mountainous country this is a safety tool that will keep you out of trouble.
Topeak Omni Ride Case - RRP £29.99
It has taken us a while to find a phone mount that works for a wide range of cycling. We like using Lifeproof iPhone Cases but couldn't found a phone mount with good reviews for mountain biking until we saw this one at the NEC Bike Show. This simple and robust mount remains secure on your handlebars whilst cradling your precious phone down rough, rocky descents. The chunky strap allows you to ratchet up the tension for a secure fit on your handlebars whilst the rubber rand hold your phone securely in place. The stem adjusts with a click allowing you to view your phone in portrait or landscape. The simple strap mount takes seconds to install/remove allowing you to switch it between bikes or remove for security. Simple, robust and functional!
Time ATAC MX2 - RRP £39.99
Time ATAC clip in pedals have plenty of float (good for your knees), engage in the muddiest conditions are lightweight and good value. Although some ATAC spds have copped some flack for reliability the MX series pedals have performed well for us. We found that the pedals platform provided good support for your foot allowing for happy feet on long days in the saddle. Although the MX2 is the base model in the MX range we are extremely happy with them.
Good news... this is a great time of year to ask for a discount at your local bike shop or make the most of online discounts to take the sting out of Christmas. Happy shopping!
One thing confirmed at the weigh in was that I have had a good winter! Since completing Challenge Roth last year I have put on 6.8kg of blubber, which was great fun to accumulate and did its job over the winter months. So how much am I going to lose? Having raced Roth at 79kg last year I felt that I could comfortably lose another 2kg. Knowing that I boxed in the army at 73kg which was hard work to get to and a weight I can't realistically sustain, I suspect that 75kg is my basement weight. For reference I am 173cm in height and medium build.
I am going to attack the weight loss in 2 phases. Phase 1 aim will lose a kilo a week achieved through some serious distance and mountain work combined with a 'modest' reduction of alcohol and unhealthy snacks in my diet. Phase 2 will see a more graduated and controlled weight loss to identify a comfortable race weight achieved through exercise in my training programme and a more regulated diet substituting any remaining unhealthy snacks with tasty, healthy alternatives.
You may wonder why I haven't decided to try a more effective weight loss diet such as the protein diet? The simple answer is that I enjoy my diet which is pretty healthy aside from unhealthy snacks which 'should' accompany a beer or glass of wine. The easy calories to eliminate from my diet will be reducing those unhealthy snacks and portion control which means that I don't need a 'new diet', my existing diet just needs a tweak. When I hit 80kg I will start to minimise alcohol and unhealthy snacks whilst trying to identify healthy ways of satisfying the 'hunger monster' created by the training programme.
I will also start experimenting with solid foods for the race nutrition plan... Prior preparation and planning, prevents piss poor performance! The 5Ps for success...
I have pressed the ‘pay now’ button for the Double Brutal but I suspect that most of the payment will be made in September in blood, sweat and tears in Snowdonia National Park!
More importantly I now have to set some key objectives, produce a training framework and understand what I need to do to cross the line without crippling myself.
I have set some initial objectives, which consist of losing weight, increase strength and flexibility, continued improvement of swim technique and sort out my existing niggles with the physio.
I fly out to New Zealand for 5 weeks in the morning which sorts out my immediate training framework… Mountains, mountains and more mountains. Fortunately the open water swimming in Lake Wanaka is as good as it gets and I’ll use the opportunity to build up to being comfortable for 2 hours in the water.
Whilst I’m out in New Zealand I will develop a training framework for the UK and flesh out the race plan. I will also start to look at the admin and logistics requirements to sustain the support team and myself over the weekend.
When back in the UK I am going to see a very good friend ‘Grant Breese’ who is a personal trainer and performance coach (https://www.breese2you.com). Aside from catching up for a few beers I am going to ask him for his take on preparation, training and managing your body for an event like this.
I’ll post progress and developments for what will hopefully be an enjoyable, painful, challenging and healthy journey to a successful weekend!
Not strictly true but bikes definitely make noises when they are unhappy. I recently disappeared on holiday to Crete which btw is a great sea swimming destination. In the days prior to flying I had a couple of wet road and mtb rides, in my rush to get sorted for a week away I didn't spend the 2 minutes it would have taken to spray the chains with some GT85 or WD40 to protect them until my return. I knew this was a mistake but felt under pressure to get sorted for a week away and decided to chance my arm...
I return from Crete to some cracking British weather and take the mtb out for a spin, my chainset was already fairly well worn after lots of wet and gritty highland abuse. Instantly the ride started with unhappy feedback noise from the chain and sticky shifting. The gritty noise and sticky shifting gets worse, I turn the volume up on the podcast I am listening to! I have a feeling this will lead to disaster but crack on anyway eventually the chain snaps amidst a mistimed climbing shift and I have nobody else to blame for the walk home...
The following day having stripped and cleaned the mtb, I confirmed that the chainset had pretty much reached the end of its useable life I ordered and a new set. But I had wasted the opportunity of a great days riding the previous day through bike abuse and neglect. Time to take the roady out, the chain looked ok if not a little crusted up from some of the muddy puddles the Cotswolds had gifted on its last ride. The flat spin up to my local hill session ride seemed uneventful until I started the first climb and the chain immediately started making scary bottom bracket cracking noises. Having already ruined the previous days sunny ride I headed straight home for a quick clean and lube. Back up University hill and the chain was purring with delight about its clean and shiny state.
This was a useful reminder for me that looking after your bike with a couple of minutes post ride love will save problems on your next ride, which due to Murphy's Law will always be a rare blue sky British sunny day. Bikes make lots of noises all of which provide riders with feedback about set up, component wear and how well your bike is maintained. Next time your bike starts talking to you, take a minute to understand what its trying to tell you!