Clipping in…

A few weeks ago my spin buddy Emma turned up at class with a pair of cycling shoes with cleats and all. She had a bit of trouble getting clipped in and struggled badly getting them out – in fact she had to take her foot out of the shoe and then try and get them off the pedal!

She wasn’t a great advert for them, but since then she’s got into the swing of things. She says she’s getting her foot into a better position for spinning: more flat footed rather than pointing her toe – something I’m guilty of too.

So I thought I’d take the plunge. Up to now I’ve resisted using cleat shoes on the road, frankly for fear of falling off my bike spectacularly (if you don’t know what I mean or just want a giggle/ cringe check this out). But when we visited Evans cycles recently I tried on these beauties:



They are comfortable and I think look a bit more casual than full on road shoes.

Mr SheSpoke (also know as HeSpoke) fitted on the cleats and I was ready to go.


So this morning I wore them to spin  and I loved them! They clipped in easily and actually I got them out fine. Did they make me spin faster? Possibly; pedalling felt easier, my foot was in a better position on the pedals, my right calf was straining a bit more than usual, so maybe that cleat needs adjusting and repositioning slightly?

Anyway, I think practicing on a stationary bike is going to be great before I take the plunge and use them out on the road. Hopefully, then I won’t keel over when I come to a stop!


Bike Park Wales…

We took a trip to Bike Park Wales last week. It’s in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. As a mountain bike fan, Mr Shespoke’s wanted to go there for ages. It was an hour’s drive away and the kids were with us, so for us it would be a day of walking (with buggy), and café stops.


When we arrived, Mr went off to tackle some of the runs. It was half an hour uphill to get to the top where the downhill runs start from. There are green (easy), Blue (intermediate) Red (advanced) Black (expert) Black and Yellow (don’t even ask…) They have an uplift for an extra 30 ish pounds after paying £7 per rider to get in.

He chose to climb up himself – ‘part of the exercise’ – and off he went.  We settled down to coffee and chocolate cake whilst he did the first run. The café was just the job. Friendly staff, homemade healthy food (cake aside) and spectator friendly. The kids had a run around until Mr reappeared 1 hour later. Plenty of mud on him, no injuries, smiley face- job done. He went off for another run, this time on a different route whilst we took a walk.


His bike- ‘Bluebayoor’ as Little boy calls it!

Ok, so maybe the buggy wasn’t the best idea to drag around. Little boy can walk a fair way but the lure of carrying often gets too much for him. After asking at the desk about walks from the centre we were told there was one on a track further down the road.

Places like Dalby Forest and LLandegla are more geared up for walkers and cycling widows!  So we found the route, through narrow gates (not so great for a buggy). It took us through a lovely forest, over wooden bridges crossing streams to a big lake. We spotted a grey heron going for a fly, frog spawn, some cool bugs on the water – it would have been perfect for pond dipping. We carried on through the woods, which opened out into a field with ponies in, back through more woods to join the ‘green’ trail of the centre. We scrambled our way quickly on the trail back up to the centre to avoid getting run over by cyclists. A good hour long walk.


The routes all have distinctive names at BPW

The kids were ready for some ‘proper’ lunch now (cake doesn’t count). Homemade spicy bean soup – recommended by the man on the counter: ‘it’s lush’ – good enough for me. Toastie for little Miss, and Mr was back from another run, so he had the Welsh Dragon Burger, nicely spiced with jalepenos.

After all that was digested Mr did some loops of the Pump trail to the whoops and cheers of delight from the kids.

A great day, beautiful part of the world, Bike Park Wales was a trip worth making – even if I wasn’t cycling!



Spin tracks…

Holiday has meant time away from spinning. Bike rides down quiet, car-free, country roads in Wales seem a million miles away from the darkened room, disco lights and pumping music of Prospin. But as I cycle along these peaceful lanes I’ve been coming up with my own playlist of spin songs.


If cycling with my IPod was allowed I would put this lot on; it would make me go a bit quicker up the hills, I think. This is what I have so far; a mix of old and new. My mum has given me a Queen greatest hits CD, which we are loving in the car as a family; rocking out to the brilliant lyrics and fist pumping tunes- air drums here we go. I think you have to reach a certain age before you appreciate the greatness of Queen- thanks Mum, those sessions on the drive to school 20 years ago have not been wasted.

Here’re my 10 tracks (well, eleven) complete with the YouTube videos – enjoy😉

Oh, and if you have any other suggestions let me know!

Queen  Don’t stop me now

Riton ft Kah-Lo Rinse and repeat

Kelis Trick me

Kungs vs Cooking on 3 burners This Girl

Justin Bieber What do you mean

Will-I-am Boys and Girls ft Pia Mia

Dizzee Rascal  Bonkers

Labrinth ft Tinie Tempah Earthquake

Britney Spears Will-I -am Scream & shout

David Guetta ft Sia Titanium

Lethal Bizzle ft Diztortion Fester skank

And to cool down… this is a favourite from when I’m running Blu Cantrell ft Sean Paul Breathe



Family biking…

Summer holidays are here. A trip to Wales calls. There’s been some biking on my own but today was a family ride around the Usk reservoir .

Little boy was in the baby carrier with Mr SheSpoke and little girl was with me. I drew the short straw. It feels cruel to write that but she’s 6, she has not taken to cycling at all and so we are resorting to a borrowed tag-a-long.

It’s bloody hard work to be honest. I am dragging her around. I’m cursing under my breath. It’s like having an extra 2-3 stone in weight. I can’t go fast down hills for fear of her flying off, and we have to jump off the big hills to push the bikes up. I keep asking ‘are you pedalling?’ Probably wishful thinking. Then there’s the moaning: ‘mud in my eye’, ‘the boys are going faster’, ‘I’m HUNNNNGGGRRYY’.

Then amongst all this we reach a high point at the reservoir, we spot some men in a boat fishing, and a swan on the water and she says ‘this is fun’.


We create call signs for each other to check we are OK. I’m ‘Mango’ (think that’s M for Mummy!) and she’s Romeo. We decide that the person who is covered in the most mud by the time we get back will win a prize (without rear mudguards on my bike it’s quite obvious who’s going to win this). Her face is covered in dirt, her jacket soaked, but she’s happy.

Cycling on your own is great, peaceful, with time for your head to calm. But cycling together is fun. The giggles make it worth while. We get changed, head home and call at a shop on the way back; she chooses a Disney magazine for her prize.  Hot baths, hot chocolate and pyjamas on ready for bed at 6pm.



Learning to spin…

In the ’90s I tried spin classes for the first time.  Back then it was popular… think Bridget Jones , jelly legs and plenty of sweat. Since then I’ve tried the odd class here or there but nothing’s really grabbed me by the cycling shorts and kept me going back for more. The leisure centre’s classes were of particular note: 10 bikes crammed into a squash court, ghetto blaster ringing around the fluorescent-lit, echoey room. Same people there every week, and random times of day for classes. Dismal.

Two months ago all that changed.

I finally tried out this place . For a while I’d known about it’s existence but it sounded a bit too ‘MAMIL-Y’ (not sure that’s a word). I’d seen the posters about Sufferfest and Watt Bikes and presumed it wasn’t for me. Then one morning, out of intrigue, I went to a spin class.


It’s all processed online, where you book and pay for classes before you go. All you do is turn up, put a tick next to your name on the screen in reception and head into the main spin room.


I left 30 minutes later feeling like I’d been clubbing – at 9.30am.

The music was loud, the lights were low, and the fans were on full blast. By the end my  workout gear was soaked, and I felt like I’d worked harder in 30 mins than I had for a long time.

I’d read about trendy US SoulCycle  in magazines and it sounded amazing, very forward looking, very American and Prospin has some of the US ideas: distract you so much with the tunes, and hide your sweat dripping face with the dark lights that you don’t realise you’ve just put in a mammoth exercise session.


Love this

I’ve been going twice, sometimes three times a week since, and my neighbour is a fellow addict now too.

As for my cycling,  I’ve not been out on my bike as much as normal. Spinning is taking over exercise a bit… but I have seen a difference in my fitness levels when I have gone out on the bike, and there’s a shift on the scales too. Plus I might not be actually going anywhere but I’m still spinning – that still counts doesn’t it?


Love this




Reflections on 2015

It’s the end of January and time to reflect on last year (because I’ve only just found the time)!

In 2015, I needed 26 hours in day, the year rushed by and now we are well into 2016.

The year can be summed up as the ‘year of the bike’ – a love which grew and grew.

bike 1

I wanted a challenge and so I entered my first triathlon in May. I was petrified and worried about failing; worried about looking like a fool.

But I trained hard and I did it. I swam, pedalled and ran. I completed it. I felt so energised and fit.



And, when I crossed the finish line, over the moon, I wanted to do it again. So I did, a bit less training this time because of other commitments, but in September I completed my second tri. I was mentally much more prepared about what was to come.


Aside from triathlons, there were plenty of bike rides.

Yorkshire was a favourite for mountain biking.

DSC_0138And on the road bike, local roads gave me miles (and miles).


But our trip to Wales again provided a spectacular run around Llyne Brianne reservoir.

I felt so alive.








Training was about the weights with Steve and sometimes without him!

DSC_0413          DSC_0412

There was also just a bit of cake…!


It was a fun year.

Now I’m thinking about my goals and challenges for 2016, and I have a few ideas…


The sun has got his hat on…

Today has been exciting. For the first time in six weeks I got on my bike.

My inspiration: the sunshine. Today is the 20th December. There should be snowflakes falling and warm coats to keep you snuggled up. But today when we opened the curtains, the lovely, bright sun shone.

For the last month the dark mornings have felt like a killer. Weekends have seen miserable rainy weather and frankly, any excuse will do. But my bike was looking shiny, clean and ready to go.

I went for the three-quarter shorts (December I know!) and two layers of long-sleeved tops plus a wind gilet.

It was perfect. There was a bit of a head wind which made my legs work harder. There were quite a few cyclists out there, and that sunshine on my face made me beam with joy. It was lovely to be out and I was reminded of all the reasons I love being on my bike and how I can’t wait for the days to get longer. My faith has been restored.


Yes, the sky is blue!


The view across the field, sunny times!


The green winter fields


More sun


One happy bike!

A month off…


photo by the very talented Mr Shespoke

My friends, I have been hibernating. I have hidden from exercise for a month. When I say hidden, I mean I have been out of action.

But tonight, I am back. I have weight trained. I know tomorrow I will ache, but I will feel more positive.

Dark nights and coldness are creeping. The radiators are on; Christmas is coming. But first is my favourite season: Autumn we still can enjoy.

I read something today on a board outside a florist’s shop. It said: ‘Autumn reminds us how change can be beautiful.’

It’s true, we often fight change, fearing the unknown. But nothing stays the same. My month off has brought about a change in my strength. I am not feeling very fit; a bit ‘soft’ around the edges (a kind way of putting it) and my attitude has changed towards training. But that will change again.

South Manchester Triathlon…

I did it!

The South Manchester triathlon was my second this year.

I woke at 7am, ate porridge with apple and raisins and packed all my gear in the car, along with two kids and Mr Shespoke!

Here’s my list:



Officially, it was a 9.20am start, and I was in wave 5.

The swim went well. I was second off in my lane and it was quick. I did front crawl the whole way and finished 16 lengths in 10:55.

Transition 1 was 3:20; slow but I put on my 3/4 trousers, a long-sleeve top, gloves and trainers etc; I do this in comfort! One of the other competitors was telling me how she lost her toenail at an open water triathlon a couple of months back as she didn’t wear socks; her feet bled and she had blisters.

I felt like I was going slow on the bike, but I did the 25km course in 1:03:41. I kept the mantra in my head – ‘this girl can’ (If you’ve not heard of the adverts watch this). It was busier out on the roads than last time, as I was in a later swim group. Transition 2 was quicker than last time, too.

Run, run, run. My theory was to put one foot in front of the other and repeat, not thinking too much about my sore foot. It was OK; maybe the ibuprofen kept the pain at bay. I had some soreness but it didn’t stop me. Run done in 43:07.

I finished the event in 2:01:54. Hooray!




Back at home, checking out the ‘tats

This week’s antics…

This week’s been mixed.

Weight training on Monday left me aching.

Tuesday and Wednesday ended up exercise free. I’d picked up a tummy bug which left me feeling zapped.

On Thursday, I did my final ‘brick’: a 13km bike ride but the full 6.4km run. The bike felt fine, but my thighs were fatigued after Monday’s antics.


Brooding sky on Thursday night for my final brick- this was the bike ride route.

The run, however, produced other issues. I had pain after about 3km in my left foot, from the area between the sole and toes underneath. It made running pretty sore; I kept going but not in a happy state.

I got home feeling low. How could I run on Sunday? I spoke to Steve who said it could be the new trainers more than a physical issue. He advised going out again in my old trainers as soon as possible to see whether that was causing the pain. I needed enough time to rest before Sunday.

First thing Friday morning I ran loops around the football pitch near home. I was half awake and tired but I did’t get the pain after 2.5km. I left it at that and have decided to use the old trainers this weekend. On the advice of a GP friend I am also going to take painkillers as well.

I am not sure if the pain will come back but I don’t want to take the chance. I want to complete this.

I felt nervous this afternoon and spoke to my best pal Patti; she said instead of saying ‘you’re nervous’ say ‘you’re excited’; change how you perceive the task. (She speaks sense does Patti!)

So, here we are: it’s Saturday evening, I have eaten chicken, sweet potato and spinach, and i’m stretched and in bed for 9.30pm.

Sunday: 400m swim, 24.5km bike and 6.3km run. I’m excited😉