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Bike Shopping Tips

I’ve been wanting a road bike since my first triathlon last year, but I couldn’t get one on my cycle to work scheme in my last job, so I had to wait until I was in my new job, then wait for my probation to be signed off (last week yay!) so I’ve been able to spend quite a lot of time researching and asking people about bikes.

I was a total newbie to bikes. I knew absolutely nothing!

But I got to the point on Monday where I felt confident to go into a bike shop, ask for help, and order a bike!

I’ve got this beauty on order – the Felt 2014 Z95


Cost = £645, Shimano Sora, Carbon Fork, 51cm

So I wanted to share some tips and what I’ve learnt about bikes in the last few months.

Tip 1 – Ask For Help

Ask as many people as possible! I asked my running club, my swimming club, some blog people, researched online, and went to multiple bike shops. I learnt something new from everyone and just needed to build a picture of what I needed to know and what I wanted before I went into the shop. I also asked on the Triathlon Coaching Course I went on and again learnt more (mainly that I can remember names of components on the bikes!).

I have few shout outs I want to make as some people went that extra mile to help me out:

  • Caitlin form Healthy Tipping Point and her Dad, Peter, for taking the time to response to a random email request for help. Caitlin has completed multiple triathlons’ including a Half Ironman! It’s all about the fit, Peter told me, and I took that on board. Every shop told me I needed a bigger bike than I ended up getting, even the shop I went to in the end, but they listened and got a smaller bike for me try and agreed it was the right way to go. Also if someone talks about bike power, it means the person riding it (not the gears as I thought!). Thanks Caitlin and Peter!

  • Meghan from Meals and Miles also was kind enough to email me back on this topic. Meghan is another amazing lady who has completed many triathlons and I followed her journey all last year to complete her first Ironman. Meghan gave me the confidence to ask my running club again and get someone to show me their bikes.

  • Malcolm and Mel from my running club took me through Bike 101 and let me have a go on theirs on the turbo trainer and with shoes. I got a big confidence boost from that afternoon and left with a list of ideas and ready to go shopping.

  • The team at Mitchell’s Cycles in Swindon for amazing service and answering all my questions about the bike and putting all the extra stuff aside for when my bike arrives!

Tip 2 – Try a Few Bikes

Sit on as many bikes as you can. Have a go with different sizes and pedals. I am still dreading my first ride using cleats, but I know what to do now I have had a go. It will also give you a good idea of the fit of different brands and models. I have gone for a unisex model, rather than a women’s specific as I found they tend to bump the price up for women’s and as I’m not too bothered about colour I was happy with a black bike.

Tip 3 – Don’t Worry About Brand (if you’re a newbie)

Brand comes later I have found. As long as it’s reputable and someone you asked have mentioned it then go for it. Once we have more experience we will get to know the differences in brands and decide what we like and when, but for an entry level it’s not important – colour first!

Tip 4 – Find a Decent Bike Shop (where you feel comfortable)

I went around four bike shops in my local area and could have been sold a bike in any of them. However I felt completely comfortable when I entered the shop I bought my bike from. They let me look and the listened to what I was after and recommended several difference bikes based on cost, but also recommended a the one I bought as the best option for the next few years (then I could buy another!). They didn’t have a bike in my size when I went in, but they sent me away to come back in a few hours and had built two sizes for me to try – no other shop offered to do that! I felt they wanted me to buy the best bike I could, without wasting money on something I don’t really need yet. It also meant I could get all my accessories with it – shoes, pedals, comfier saddle, jacket, shorts etc. It is definitely worth going around a few and getting a feel for the type of reception you get. I’m looking forward to going and picking up my bike and getting it fitter properly and I will be taking it back there for serving. I liked it was a family run shop who knew what they were talking about and weren’t out to make me spend more than I could afford.

Tip 5 – Make Use of Your Cycle to Work Scheme

I wouldn’t be able to afford a new bike if I didn’t use this. I also intend to get cycling into work during spring/summer once I’ve increased my confidence on the road. It can save you about 30% of the original price of the bike and accessories. It’s also an incentive to be a bit greener and use my car less.

Although I intend make good use of my secret bike rack on my car!


Triathlon Level 1 Coaching Course

I spent the weekend in Bristol on a Triathlon England Triathlon Level 1 Coaching course and absolutely loved it. It’s been fun helping out the running club with swimming, so when Triathlon England’s South West office offered the club a free place on the course I jumped at the chance (I was also the only one to put my name forward) and I’m very glad I did.


I haven’t officially coached anyone or anything before so I was very nervous. As a lifeguard I helped with the gymnastic lessons (random I know) and also with swimming occasionally, but hadn’t considered getting a qualification before (now I would love to doing a swimming course).

It was an early set off to Bristol as I don’t like being late and ended up being super early as it didn’t take as long as I thought it would to get there. We spent the morning getting to know each other (course participant bingo is a great ice breaker!) and what we would be doing through the rest of the course. We started by getting the theory out of the way to be able to get to the coaching parts of the course.

Saturday afternoon was spent doing a bit of theory on coaching running then splitting into two groups with the tutors and coaching each other in running. We did things like drills and pace. It was good fun and a good workout – it was pretty much 2 hours of either standing and coaching or running around being coached.


The Sunday was spent the same as the Saturday afternoon, but with cycling in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. I am most confident on the swimming, then the run then lastly the cycling. This is totally based on my current knowledge of each aspect, but I learnt a lot and would like to apply the confidence and ease I felt while on the poolside to the running and cycling.

I also took the opportunity to ask and learn about cycling and bikes. Part of the course requires certain knowledge about bikes and advising people with bike questions, so this was perfect and meant I could go bike shopping the next day with confidence (post on that coming tomorrow!)


Buying a Garmin

I’ve ummed and ahhed about buying GPS watch for a the last year or so. I have a Polar Heart rate Monitor and a Poolmate and now a Nike Fuelband. I also have Ki Fit stashed in a drawer (it requires a subscription so is staying there). I’ve looked at various models from the cheaper version to the top of the line, triathlon, multi-sport, measure-every-metric-you-can-think-of versions. I’ve also taken advice from my running club.

I’m not a super duper sporty competition person, but I do love to know how I’m progressing and at the moment with running especially I have no idea how I’m doing, only that it feels hard. My running club have decided to do a paced session once a month, where we get into smaller groups and run at an average pace. The first one was great. I found it hard as there was a big hill in the middle and I always slow down and find it hard to recover, but I made it round in under an average of 12 minutes (11.47 average per mile to be exact). I loved knowing I can achieve this and part this year’s running goals for me as part of Project Lifestyle is to beat my times.

So as it was my birthday this month I’ve decided to use the money I got from my parents and a little bit of savings and purchase a Garmin – the Forerunner 310TX.


I had a good look around and got advice and this one worked out the best option for me. I looked at the 910TX, but decided that £150 more it was too much for too little extra. I’ve read the reviews and know that GPS is not great at open water (I won’t use it in the pool as I have a Poolmate for that), but it will give me an idea at least. I also saw a tip for wearing it in your swimming hat, rather than on your wrist, so might give it a go. The bonus is I can use it for running and cycling, rather than get two different ones. I’m not worried about the other cycling metrics, but having good data on speed and distance will be great. This also means I don’t need to carry my phone to track. I probably will carry my phone for emergencies, but I can put it more securely than in a pocket. Another great thing is that I’ll be able to monitor my pace/distance/speed as I go, which is something I don’t do with my phone as I don’t like carrying it my hand in case I drop it or trip over.

So I’ve ordered it from and cannot wait for it to arrive. I’ll do another post when I’ve gotten some got sessions out of it and let you know how I get on!

29 by 29 Update 10

A bit late, but as I’ve only got two more to go I want to get the ones in.

  1. Move into my own place – Complete!
  2. Adopt a cat – I am going to do this next year instead.
  3. Do a Super Sprint Triathlon – 200m swim, 20km bike, 2.5km run – Complete!
  4. Take part in running club events and volunteer to help when I can’t take part
    1. High Worth 5 = 54:50
    2. Broad Town 5 = 57:14
    3. July = 8 miles
    4. August = 9 miles
    5. September = Tough Mudder 12 mile obstacle course
    6. October = Cardiff Half Marathon 2 hrs 41 mins
    7. November = Swimming Club Champs
  5. Do the Parkrun once a month and volunteer as a marshall
    1. January = 38:19
    2. February = 34:40
    3. March = 34:42
    4. April = 33:51
    5. May = Triathlon (Broken Toe) and 5km Race for Life 36:42
    6. June = Broad Town 5
    7. Get back to in November
  6. Bake more bread – Baked a sourdough in August and recived a bread book as a gift from the lovely Steph and Luke, and now have started using this!
  7. Complete the CBT Journal for Dummies – Got delayed with the move and getting proper CBT therapist, but will pick up again soon
  8. Read more classic books as part of my 2013 reading challenge – audiobooks have taken over and reading books I’d already bought, so this hasn’t happened as planned.
  9. Stick to my budget and save for holidays and house things – doing better at this and have plans to make this easier.
  10. Take a bike maintenance course – went to Origin Cycles to learn how to change a tyre and will keep trying to learn bits and pieces over time – Complete
  11. Join a WW meeting and work towards goal – decided to do this in May
  12. Blog – maybe a redesign  – Complete!
  13. Plan budget friendly trips  – exploring locally 🙂
  14. Try acupuncture – I’m back at sports therapy as I know it works, but would love to try this next year.
  15. Keep working to create and maintain good mental health – Working on this and it has really become an important aspect of my life 🙂
  16. Join a coffee club
    1. Made this a reward for WW goals
    2. Also bought Kopi nas a present for my Dad, who has given it to me
    3. Signed up to HasBean for a monthly delivery
  17. Take part in the Masters galas and club championships
    1. February Gala – 2 Golds and 2 Silvers!
    2. July Gala – 2 Golds and 2 Silvers – 2nd Woman in League!
    3. October Gala – 1 silver and 4 bronze
    4. Overall 3rd Female Under 40 in Wiltshire!
    5. Currently in the idle of the club champs
  18. Work out savings plan for trip to Japan – this is on hold 🙁
  19. Catch up on Greys Anatomy – not yet, but have watched Castle, Dextor, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time – finally started this!
  20. Get regular haircuts – Going well 🙂
  21. Move forward with my life and make new friends – making work friends and at running club
  22. Do my best at my new job
    1. Making my password mantras as have to type them in multiple times day
    2. Having a rethink about what I want to do longer term
    3. Commute is getting harder so looking for opportunities closer to home
    4. Started new job in November!
  23. Keep my commute healthy – Reduced commute from 45 miles each way to 5!
  24. Listen to Harry Potter audiobooks – Complete!
  25. Get rid of stuff I no longer need when I move – Complete!
  26. Use the mantra ‘F**k It’ – using this everyday
  27. Take up pilates or yoga – going to start Body Balance at my gym
  28. Create photo albums for all my trips – still need to do this
  29. Try two new recipes a month from my cook books
    1. March –
      1. Chicken & Bacon bake
      2. Proper poached eggs
    2. April
      1. Beef Chilli
      2. Pancakes
    3. May
      1. Braised Leeks and Rainbow Kale
      2. Salmon poached with lemon
    4. June
      1. Tasty scrambled eggs
      2. Biscotti
    5. July
      1. Lemon Fairy Cakes
      2. Fruity Sponge
    6. August
      1. Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
      2. Sourdough Bread
    7. September – struggled this month with Tough Mudder and Half Marathon
    8. October
      1. Peanut Butter Cookies
      2. Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies

Overall a busy month and a good one. Still got a few things I need to do in the last two months of the my 28th year, but nothing I can’t do 🙂


New Gym Programme

With starting my new job I am shaking up my fitness routine too.

I’m going to start going to the gym and for extra swim sessions before work. I would also like to cycle to work and build up by starting once a week. I’m also doing a couple of classes like Body Balance and Combat as well as keeping up my running and swimming. It sounds like a lot but I’ve being flexible with it and mixing it up.

First up I got a new gym programme with the intention of being able to blast it out before work in about 40 minutes. It conssits of:

  • Warm Up
  • Drop and Press with Barbell
  • Split Squats with Free Weights
  • Step Jumps
  • Assisted Pull Ups
  • Burpees
  • Press Up on Gym Ball
  • Obliques on Gym Ball
  • Pass Over with Gym Ball
  • Plank on Gym Ball
  • Plank Ups
  • Cool Down

I like it so far. It’s hard to do 10 of each, but I can and will build up to more over time. It’s an all over body work out and with the aim of helping me lose weight and keep strong. I’ll probably keep this going until Christmas then get a new one for the new year.

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