I entered a competition a few weeks back to be part of the SiS Winter Academy, and never thought in a million years that I would be chosen….I am not much of an ‘athlete’ I am a 41 year old working mum of 2 who likes to cycle. But, amazingly an email came through from SiS to say that I had been chosen as one of the 9 – wow!
So, who am I? Well, you may once have seen me broadcasting the weather on BBC (under my maiden name of Sarah Wilmshurst), but I left when I had my kids, spent a bit of time managing the BBC Weather Centre and I now work as a severe weather advisor to emergency responders and government.
When I was young I was a keen swimmer, swimming for school and a club but when I went to University that all seemed to lapse, and when I started work I did shifts and the exercise fell to second place. Then I had 2 children and I noticed after the second one 7 years ago that my weight had gone up and I generally felt a bit rubbish. So I joined a slimming club to lose the weight, and just as I reached target weight I saw an ad in a slimming magazine for a ride around Cuba for charity. 50 miles a day for 5 days….could I do it???
I decided to give it a try and I have never looked back! I started on a comfort mountain bike, trundling along the Thames and getting to a standard where I could manage the 250 miles in Cuba – which I loved. I was hooked. I bought a lightweight hybrid when I got back and joined Maidenhead and District Cycling Club. They didn’t seem to mind that I turned up each Sunday for the social ride on a hybrid whilst they were all on road bikes. I did my first few sportives on that hybrid – the biggest of which was the Wild Wales in 2009 when I unfortunately fell off over the handlebars and had a trip in an ambulance to hospital. 4 new teeth later and I was back on the bike, another charity ride around China in 2010. It was time to get a road bike.
I continued to do a few Sportives – improving quickly to be able to do 100km’s easily. Now for the next challenge – I tried time trialling. Again the friendly nature of my cycling club meant that they were fine with me trying a time trial on a road bike – and first time only managing 33 minutes for a 10. I time trialled every week last year, 10’s and 25’s and improved so that I beat the 30 minute mark for the 10’s and 1:18 for the 25. It was a good year.
Then this year I bought a new road bike, a lovely carbon Pinarello Quattro, which I have put time trail bars on. The year started well, I did the London Revolution (where I discovered SiS products) and managed the 2 days quite easily, and I got my 10 time trial time down to 28:04 on the new bike. That was early in the season, and since then I have got stuck, and don’t seem to be improving – if anything I think my form has decreased. Family commitments mean I can no longer make the time trails each week, but I continue to try to do at least 100 miles a week. Most of these miles are done in 60-90 minute blocks at lunchtime, and a longer 3-4 hours on the Sunday club run. I have also bought a mountain bike – my brother is a keen mountain biker and he persuaded me to do the Kielder 100 (100 long, hilly miles – all off road). He thought from having seen my form early in the year that I would manage it – but I missed the time cut off at 50 miles (I did have a puncture but I think I probably would have missed it anyway) and was sent back, so only managed 56 miles. I REALLY want to be able to do the full 100 next year….but unless I improve my strength and stamina I have no hope. I am also noticing that on club runs, new members join and I have to wait for them…..but within a few weeks they are zooming away and I am trailing behind. What is going wrong?
I probably don’t have a good training plan. I tend to just go out and ride – with little structure. I have tried the odd interval session, and have loosely tried to stick to training plans that others have leant me but I don’t stick to them. I also do no strength training which would also probably help. But I think my main issue I think is my nutrition strategy. I have a biscuit addiction and the weight I spent so long losing 7 years ago is creeping back on. I use SIS products – but only on long rides. I want to get the weight back off, feel more energetic on the bike and start to improve again. So, the SiS Winter Academy is just what I need….