UKBFF North West Championship. England… Masters Bikini Comp!

SoOo… my second UKBFF Bikini Comp! I’m now in the masters category, being a grand 35 year old!

I set myself a 16 week loose training plan, combining strength training and short duration cardio/HIIT. My gym sessions started at 3 x per week and progressed to 4 x per week, and my cardio started at 20 minutes and gradually increased to around an hour max. The cardio consisted of running/sprinting, cycling, step machine and HIIT specific gym classes (well actually only one class was taken 🙈 – but I carried over the workouts from the class into my own routines )👍.

The experience in competing in one of these comps… in my opinion, it can’t be matched. From choosing your event, planning out your training and nutrition, and pinpointing in your calendar the first day of training… following your plan as well as life allows you to, and observing the progress; then finally being faced with the steps onto the stage when the day arrives… For me it’s just been never ending learning! It’s both mentally and physically challenging, and it gives a lot back! I’ve been enjoying the discipline that comes with the training routine and the healthy eating focus.

On this occassion I know my eating plan/nutrition just wasn’t at the right level. I did make good steady changes and cut out processed food and junk sugar, but I didn’t focus on a specific bulking and cutting phase… something I can introduce into my next comp preparation. I’ll also drop my plan from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. I think 16 was unnecessary…

I’m extremely happy now to take a step back from the intensity of it all 😄 – but I will be back at it again in the not too distant future.

The rest of my year is filled with cycling holidays and running challenges! All the good outdoorsy stuff… ❤

Ben Macdui – one of the Cairngorms big 4. Scotland… Hiking!

A sweet ’24ish…’ hours.

6pm on Friday arrived and it was time to go and enjoy some fun on a few Scottish Munros! Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms was calling! Being the second highest mountain in the UK, this little beauty had been on my list for a while. Yassss, the excitement! It was going to be around a 6 hour drive to Aviemore from the North East, including a quick detour to Penicuik to meet Tom… So I headed home, packed the van, fueled her up, aired the tires and set off…

We reached Glenmore Campsite at around 2am and found a clearing among the trees. It was dark and cold as we pitched our tents. There wasn’t a cloud overhead and the sky twinkled like stardust! I’d forgotten my sleeping mat, so that schoolgirl error resulted in me spending my night trying to keep warm, tossing and turning; with the cold from the ground seeping into my sleeping bag and chilling each body part it made contact with… all part of the adventure fun right? brrr…. ;-/

The welcome sight of daylight arrived and filled my tent, along with the sound of birds and the occasional woodpecker! Unzipping the side I was greeted by the sight of tall trees and a couple of ducks flying over head. Snow topped mountains were visible in the distance and the sun was coming up just behind them. Blue Sky! Everything about that moment created a perfect wake up!

After an al fresco breakfast it was time to layer up and pack a bag. We drove the winding road up to the CairnGorm Mountain Ski Centre. Luckily for me, my good pal Tom Owen happens to be a fantastic mountain leader and he’d mapped out an 11 mile hiking loop starting and finishing at the slopes. A great base location that is easily accessed for a day spent in the clouds.

There was time to grab a quick latte, then it was out into the fresh Scottish Highlands air, starting our hike up and through the snowy mountains. The sun beamed warmth, and the whispy white clouds in the clear blue sky offset the thick white powder on the ground. Nature at it’s finest, beautifully balanced!

I was quickly absorbed in yet another unforgettable mountain exploring experience. The sheer scale of these beauties, vast and snow covered, the landscape rolling on for miles in every direction. At the crest of every climb another spectacular sight unfolded. Breathtaking. I was happy to be alive, enjoying every sensation. There’s never a true picture, written description, or video that can capture the feelings and the thoughts from any time spent in the mountains… It’s impossible to jot that down… ❤

Its the little details that hold in the memory, such as having bitter cold hands as a result of taking my gloves off to snack on some lunch, a fresh pair of toasty warm mittens being handed to me after that so I could scrunch my fingers into a ball. I was grateful for Tom’s expertise and extra supplies!

Walking towards our goal point, my mind wandered and I thought the snow covered mounds resembles a dessert plane. Only much colder and powdery white of course! I think I might have been inspired to take on a dessert marathon at that point 😉 but anyway… back to the cold captivating mountains!

Reaching the summit of Ben Macdui, white snow mist had set in, and a slight ‘ah well’ stance was taken, one of those climbs with nothing to see. However, within the time it took to have a few squares of divine white chocolate, the snowy mist had passed, opening to reveal a spectacular sight! Clouds within touching distance… peaks pouting handsomely. It was breathtaking.

We headed back, with that feeling of satisfaction from a perfect summit! Some descending sections required crampons. Compressed hard snow; too firm for stamping out safe footholes; the fear of sliding downhill was real, and the crampons were a new toy to be taken out for some playtime. Giddy up cowgirl, suddenly taking on that talked about John Wayne swagger… there was mention of self arrest, but I avoided the climbing axe, thoughts of impaling myself somehow. Maybe next time 🤔

We had originally planned to stop over another night, but after a great day, another cold night just didn’t appeal so we agreed happily to call it a day and head home. Job done!

The weather had been favourable! Given the recent snow storms in the UK, couldn’t have timed it better!

Next up… The Terry O’Gara 5k. Newcastle.

Derwent Water, The Lake District. England… Road Cycling!

Every year the operations team at Saddle Skedaddle host a training week for guides; the well seasoned and the newbies have a chance to get together; us office mortals are invited along for a weekend of workshops, bike riding, good company and laughter! There’s a definite feeling of being pampered. Around 100 Skedaddlers descended on Derwant Water; this years culture dish included Brits, Spaniards, Irish, Belgian, Italians, Japanese, Azorians, Kiwis, Australians… lots to soak up!

The drive over in the morning was pleasant, loading my bags into the van and setting off just before sunrise, it was a very cold -2 and dark. A quick coffee stop at the Costa drive through and it wasn’t long till the sun started to make an appearance. With a pearlescent sunny sky overhead, I took the route straight through Carlisle, meaning a nice jaunt down towards and along the 4 mile length of Bassenthwaite Lake. I reached Derwent House just in time to join the end of breakfast, I grabbed another quick coffee and said a few hellos before the welcome meeting and the workshops kicked off. Very nicely timed!

Fast forward through Saturday… a day filled with workshop shenanigans from product development through to marketing; a great Scotland rugby result 💙, followed by a change to don some high heels and a sparkly top for the evening meal and free bar with entertainment…

SooOOoo after quite a late night socialising with a free bar, Sunday morning arrived and it was time to ride! I was a bit apprehensive about not keeping the pace, especially with my recent training being focused on my next bikini competition, this means a big no to any lengthy time on two wheels.

Our road cycling group gathered together at Derwent House, all bright and looking forward to the morning ride. I’d went for a Skedaddle hire bike! There’s a new fleet this year heading to France, and we had the pleasure of giving them a test run. The ladies ride was a Giant Defy Liv, lush charcoal grey colour, sparkly! Nice ride, smooth and quiet! Oh and good components too 🤔

We headed out and enjoyed a three mile warm up before heading up Whinlatter Pass, a new one for me; I admit I felt a bit ropy at around 1/2 mile from the top, perfect for starting to blow away the cobwebs from the night before and setting off the hangover 👍! That was the only climb of the day, so it was easy to relax after that and just enjoy the views. The sun was shining and there were only a few ice patched to be wary of as we headed for the Lakes Distillery for the traditional road cyclists coffee and cake, and a bit of a natter. Always fun and inspiring listening to the guides stories from the previous year holidays.

From the distillery we headed back to Derwent Water, splitting our little group of 14 into two smaller groups and keeping single file so not to frustrate too many drivers, as we headed along a busier stretch of road through Embleton and round towards Applethwaite and Keswick. It was nice to have a bit of silent riding; with the sight of the rider immediately in front and the surrounding mountainous lakes scenery. The sound of gentle breaking behind and the odd gear change.

A beautiful first mini break for my 2018, and wonderful to spend some time on the bike in great company… next up, Ben Macdui, The Cairngorms.

A wee bit about me…

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I work as a travel consultant for a cycling holiday company here in the North East UK, and yes, I get myself away on the trips; soaking up every new travel destination and cycling experience that I can. 2017 had me riding through Puglia, Southern Italy… and of course many places here in Britain; including North Wales & the Lake District.

Outside of the travel office I love to be active and enjoy living a healthy lifestyle; in 2017 I competed in my first (rookie) Bikini Competition and relished racing (realistic & enjoyable slow running ;)) in my first Skyrun.