Category Archives: Team Ribble

Team Ribble: Ailbhe’s Spanish triathlon adventure

Ribble-sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll updates us on her eventful July at a European Cup triathlon in Spain

Oh my, Oh my, Oh my, my, my, July. Birthday month, kick start my international triathlon season month and fun times in warm places with cool people month… it was all there for the taking, but oh my, my, my, was it not to be!!!

July started off being a month filled with excitement. I was not really looking forward to the whole year older thing, but it was nice to spend time with friends and laugh at myself for being older. Laughter will keep you young they say!

On our way to sunny Spain

Next on the agenda was my first European Cup triathlon of the year and a trip to Spain with one of the funniest girls I know, Emma Sharkey, from the beautiful emerald isle of Ireland. Emma was flying from home and I was flying from the UK and we would meet in Spain and go from there. We would have each other so it would all be easy, breezy, beautiful, cover girl. We wish!

Delayed luggage coupled with our lack of Spanish had us off to a good start, but it had us laughing because there was nothing we could do. All luggage firmly in hand and all train tickets paid for, we were finally on our way to Barcelona and then the beautiful little seaside town of Altafulla. The heat made for a sweaty journey and Emma’s all black everything outfit left her hot, hot, hot! I also learned that jeans are just not meant for travel. Ever.

Carroll Tri Suit 16We found the hotel in Altafulla with little difficulty. We were here finally – straight to the sea for a swim please! We hopped into the sea and all was right in the world again. We did all the usual things after a day of travel with our bikes and then food, food… give us food! We got our bearings with where registration was, where the nicest Italian restaurants were and we even spotted the best Froyo (frozen yoghurt, Ed) shop for a treat after the race. We had it all done! We got this!

The next day we had the bike recce first thing. Altafulla was a really cool course with a nice big hill which intertwined its way through some old Spanish streets. It was super cool but this was as far as the love for the course grew for me. Up the hill for the first time and my bike became very vocal making all sorts of crazy noises. After much deliberation and some fiddling about with what I thought I may have done incorrectly when rebuilding my Ribble Aero 883, she seemed to be running smoothly thank god. A couple of more times up and over the hill and we were good to go.

Swim recce was next and as there is a lot less technical equipment involved for this section, it seemed to go rather swimmingly! Food, food, give us food! Once our hunger was put to bed we were free to relax and chill out, watching the WTS Hamburg race, before having to dash off to our registration and briefing.

Time for dinner…food again! Yay! Dinner done and home to do the last bits and bobs putting number stickers on bikes and helmets and then we were ready to sleep.

Carroll Tri Transition

Triathlon race day

The next morning was a lazyish start as the race wasn’t until midday. A relaxed breakfast and a little nap before heading down. During our warm up my bike seemed to be running smoothly. I left Emma and decided I would do one more hill just to make sure my bike was ‘A OK’. Cue the disaster.

Seemingly my rear derailleur had been knocked in transit and it was spending a lot of time up against the spokes creating the noise I’d heard the day before. It had had enough on race morning though and got caught in the spokes which broke the replaceable derailleur hanger. With 45mins to race start I was without a working bike.

Panic… no, don’t panic. Who can help? Ring Stephen from Triathlon Ireland. He likes bikes. He will know. As expected he told me all the relevant details and what to do, but unless I could find a new hanger, I would be a little screwed.

The bike mechanic on site had an extensive tool kit – one small multi-tool. Great! What next? At this point I was stressing just a little. Everyone had racked their bikes and was down in swim warm-up. I was still in the athlete area with no tri-suit on and no bike to rack. These invaluable experiences in life that seem to be awful at the time, have to make sense at some point in your journey. Don’t panic.

I asked if could borrow a bike and the next minute along comes this bike. God knows what speed, or if any speed at all it was, how old it was and how much heavier than me it weighed but she went into transition and I would hop on later and see what happened.

Lets get it on

What happened next, not a whole lot. I had enough time to run down to swim warm up and take three strokes before we were called out of the water to line up. There was an Irish lady whose accent was more comforting than she knew at the time, who was shouting us on. My head was a ‘little’ frazzled and so the race wasn’t exactly what I had planned.

The swim seemed to just stay as one big group and I was at the back following feet constantly thinking about how this bike was going to be. Out of the swim, onto the bike and I could barely reach the handle bars or change gears! Disaster! One lap of the bike is all I could manage and made the decision to call it a day there. I don’t like giving up. Bike mishaps happen every day and are oh so fixable but this one was out of my control. Big lessons learned however – always carry spare hangers.

Emma went on to get the top 15 place we were both chasing. Go on Emmahuh!!

Race over and once packed we were on our way back to Barcelona where I would be leaving Emma who was staying there with friends for a night whilst I went back to the airport. We hopped onto our train in Altafulla and it was packed. I reminded myself to keep my phone in my hand as with a bag on my back and bike box in front of me, I wouldn’t be so sure that anything from my bag wouldn’t be stolen.

One hour passed on the train and our stop was coming up so I placed my phone in my bag. I strapped my bag and had it under my arm pit until the beeps to tell us the doors were about to open. I then doubled strapped it, grabbed the bike box and exited the train. I checked my bag and the phone was gone. Someone had stolen my phone. Now what?

I was leaving Emma and had no phone, no Spanish and no memory of Rich’s phone number to ring him and let him know the story. We went our separate ways. Emma messaged Rich and he eventually got word to the taxi driver collecting me that I needed a meet and greet at the airport. This was all beknownst to me. I arrived safely in the UK but there was no taxi driver to be seen. After some tears a very kind lady taxi driver who allowed me to use her phone to ring my mother. The taxi driver finally showed up and I was on route back to Loughborough. Just after midnight I arrived home a little worse for wear. All in a day’s work… who knew it could be so exciting.

Lessons learnt for next time

Not the trip I was after but these things happen. I learned more than you could even imagine. I dealt with the world of emotions. I laughed. I cried. It was all going on.

Carroll on Ribble smaller

In light of it all, my poor Aero 883 had an emotional time also. It clearly came across some very rough luggage handlers at the airport. My bike box did extremely well to protect the frame as a whole and not allow the rough handlers to damage the frame itself. The bit that broke off is designed to do exactly that and with only costing a few pounds to fix I am very glad my Polaris bike box did its job and protected the frame which is slightly more expensive than a few pounds to replace!

Good equipment makes a huge difference and that is as simple as it gets really. Spend the dollar on good protective equipment and reap the benefits upon meeting a rough airport handler.

I am off to Sweden this week for another European Cup triathlon this weekend. Let’s hope the luck of the Irish stays with me this time round! Stay safe, stay happy and most importantly, stay healthy.

Happy pedalling!
Ailbhe (Alva…just in case it’s slipped your mind!)  🙂

The innovative and versatile Ribble Aero 883.





Guide: Tackling an Ironman Triathlon – Nutrition Plan

Tackling an Ironman triathlon: How to get the nutrition you need to succeed

An Ironman is one of the most demanding endurance experiences available, composed of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full 26.2 mile marathon to finish!  On July 17th, hundreds of people will head to Bolton for this year’s headline British Ironman event.

The Ironman name alone is enough to underline how this is not a challenge that you can just turn up to – months of preparation are needed. Even if you’re an avid cyclist or a triathlon enthusiast, this mammoth trial requires peak fitness – and one thing that’s crucial to Ironman success is an optimised diet, both before and during race day.

To get the best understanding of the diet needed to succeed, Ribble Cycles spoke to Annie Simpson, an expert nutritionist from OTE Sports, to find out what is needed to take on this all-day feat.

Healthy Breakfast - Oatmeal with dried fruit at blue table

In both training and on the day, Ironman athletes must have a set meal in place, as drastic changes can have different impacts on the body. Simpson explains that the best breakfast is one high in carbohydrates, with a portion of protein to help slow digestion and avoid starting-line hunger.

“By eating two to three hours before the start, food will be given enough time to settle in the stomach,” she adds.

Simpson’s example breakfast includes:
•    One large bowl of porridge made with milk, with chopped banana or dried fruits and nuts (with extra protein from Greek yoghurt);
•    A glass of fresh fruit juice for calories and hydration; and
•    A cup of coffee, to help wake up for an early start.

Before the triathlon
Simpson continues: “In the time between breakfast and the race, focus on hydration. Sipping a hydration tab little and often in the days and hours before the event ensures you start the event fully hydrated.

“As little as 2% loss in body weight as a result of dehydration can affect sporting performance. Don’t start the race on the back foot this way.”

A light snack before the event is also a good idea; options include:
•    An energy bar
•    A jam sandwich
•    A banana

In-race tactics
Simpson was keen to stress how in-race nutrition is by far the most important factor at play – and that 60 to 90g of carbohydrates need to be eaten each hour. Based on a ten-hour Ironman, this means that the average athlete needs 700g+ during the race.

“Our body stores carbohydrates in our muscles and liver, but these are limited and are used up during exercise,” Simpson continues. “Without sufficient carbohydrates stores, the intensity we can perform at decreases dramatically. In Ironman, you need to keep stores topped up.”

Using OTE Sports’ range as a basis, Simpson puts forward a standard plan to follow during Ironman UK, based on the 700g carbohydrate target:

•    6 x energy gels (120g of carbs);
•    5 x caffeine gels (100g);
•    2 x energy bars (80g); and
•    5 x energy drinks (400g)*.

*800ml mixed with 80g of energy drink in the bottle.

Here are Annie’s top tips for the average Ironman race:
•    1 x energy gel

“It is very difficult to fuel during the swim, so aim to have an energy gel ten minutes before the start,” she says.

Athlete in open water

Transition 1
•    1 x energy gel
•    Water

Before getting on the bike, Simpson recommends a gel and quick mouthful of water; the most part of an athlete’s pannier is consumed while riding.

Staff member Dee on a Ribble Aero TT
Staff member Dee on a Ribble Aero TT

•    4 x 800ml of energy drinks
•    2 x energy bars
•    2 x energy gels
•    2 x caffeine gels

“Spread the intake evenly, and don’t go for long periods without sipping your drink,” she asserts. “Aim to consume half an energy bar or gel every 30 minutes, saving caffeine gels for the later part of the ride.”

Staff member Mark on Ribble R872. Photo by Ellen Isherwood - Lancs Racing Scene
Staff member Mark on Ribble R872. Photo by Ellen Isherwood – Lancs Racing Scene

Transition 2
•    1 x energy gel
•    Water

As with the first transition, the build up to the run requires the same intake.

•    2 x energy gels
•    3 x caffeine gels
•    1 x energy drink
•    Water

Simpson once again recommends an even split of intake, adding how important it is to have water from feed stations, particularly on hot days.

After the race
After completing an Ironman triathlon, it shouldn’t simply be a case of resting up. The total calories consumed during one such race is in the region of 6,000 to 8,000kcal. Despite the above nutrition, a racer will be left in a calorie deficit.

Special drinks can aide recovery; these contain protein for rebuilding muscles, carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores, and fluid to aid rehydration.

As such, a congratulatory pat on the back for finishing must be swift, Simpson says: “As soon as the event finishes, it is important to go into recovery. Aim to drink this within 30 minutes of finishing – this is the ‘window of opportunity’ to kick-start the recovery process. You may not want to consume this, but it is a case of needs must.”

Your tips
Have you got any experience of Ironman UK or other long-distance trials? Let us know your top tips in the comment section.

Team Ribble: Ailbhe tackles National Triathlon Champs


A month has passed since my last blog and I can safely say that is has been one very bumpy road this past four weeks! Nothing worth having comes easy and no travelled road is ever traffic free with smooth surfaces. These hurdles and challenges are what make sport so exciting and they make life thrilling. If there’s one thing I have learned over the last while it’s just how important true friends and good humans are to your own health and happiness.

My boyfriend Rich went to the World elite duathlon champs in Spain earlier this month. As a double world champion already he was heading into this race with high hopes. With big prize money on offer, the thought of winning enough to relieve some money stresses was a very welcomed vision. A couple weeks out from the champs and he unfortunately came off his bike in training. Left wounded and in the unknown about a fracture maybe two, we did all we needed to with x rays and the wait was agonising. Thankfully nothing broken but the 2-3 weeks after the crash were tough. Mentally, physically… everything.

Juggling training, and life
As we are both invested in our sport and each others careers, what hits one of us, hits the other. Alongside working close to 40 hour weeks and juggling training, I also had a big stress which I didn’t see at the time,  but worrying over Rich was toll taking and not the kind where you just pay your fee and drive through. It was a long process. We battled through and got rich to the start line. Although he felt amazing and his engine was on fire leading the first 10k run into T1 in a shade over 30.40, his calves seized up massively on the bike due to the lack of a stochastic nature in his build up to the event. Calves gone. Championship over.  Mental battle number two in place. A lot of mental demons came his way but we battled through and did what we could to keep consistent albeit at a very low intensity in the weeks after.


We knew our trip to Ireland was fast approaching.  Two races within a week and some down time at home. The first race, draft legal, round 1 of super series, and a qualifier for me for a chance to make a world relay championship team.  All to play for. My race was a dream come true and although my run didn’t shine on the day it was enough to keep me in 5th behind Aileen Reid, who is weeks away from becoming a two-time Olympian. My Ribble Aero 883 did her work that day and she enjoyed riding in a bike group of such class for sure! We’ve seen recently how important the bike leg has become in draft legal racing. It’s being used as the weapon to get away from those faster runners coming through. Ribble has been AMAZING for me in helping me ride with the  best in the races.

Where I fell in love with triathlon
A nice five-hour journey down the country to a week at home started with some fabulous home-cooked mammy Carroll dinners. Stuffed and wrecked after the race and travel we hit the hay good and early and got ready for the week ahead. During our week at home we visited Limerick, a place where I fell in love with the sport of triathlon. It was nice to be able to show this all to Rich.

The following weekend saw our Irish national Olympic distance champs in the west of Ireland. Hell of the West the race is called and it’s no joke… to hell and back you shall travel. I really wanted to target this race. A race close to my heart as it’s such an important race to those who train in Limerick. Two weeks out from the champs we got an email saying it was no longer a draft legal race. Cue the sad face. My training has been  draft legal focused with more emphasis on running not long TT steady state efforts on the bike. Hell of the West won’t let you get away with a lack of specific training. Cue the ambulance story. I hopped out of the water in 4th and was holding the pace of the girls on TT bikes around me. In doing this I was having to put out a higher power wattage than what I was used to in this position I wasn’t used to.  My hamstring really didn’t like it and to avoid a more serious issue I decided after 35km that enough was enough.

“My body was going through hell”
I got picked up by the broom wagon very quickly and was dropped back to transition where I, within a matter of milli-seconds, became very cold. Within moments I was in the ambulance chattering in a foil blanket with a body temperature of 33.6 and an apparent blood pressure reading of 216/68 and a heart rate of 48. My body was going through hell. Once temps and heart rate values and blood pressure readings came back to normal I was allowed out. What a day!! The national champs I dreamed of never happened but a whole other story was in for an exciting finish.

Back home again and refuelled with some more home cooked meals and we were well back on the road to recovery.  Where would we be without excitement?!

Be ready for the unexpected as it will catch you off guard.

We spent three days after the race at home and then made the journey back outside of the European union… is that a whole other blog post?  Probably.


Ireland was a bag of mixed emotions with the first race being amazing although not originally on the plan, and my first targeted race going flop. New block of training now. On to the next focus. It is all go!!

I hope everyone is in good form and their Ribble rides are rocking. I know mine is.  Check out some action shots of the noble steed in action here. Until next time,  keep her lit and always always strive for more. Standards are there to be broken. Moulds are there to be remade. Untravelled roads are there to be taken. Do what makes you uncomfortable because it’s these actions that  lead to the most rewarding of prizes.

Happy and safe riding.

Ailbhe 🙂

Team Ribble: “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”


A good friend introduced me to this quote in the past couple of weeks and I still can’t believe I have never come across it before. What a fabulous sentence that sums up training and racing in such a simple and effective way.

Setting goals and achieving these goals is what training schedules are based around. We train on a daily basis with these goals in mind. We dream of the day where our goals are achieved and we can deem ourselves to be ‘successful’. But how do you measure success?

Is success the number of medals you have hanging in your room? Is success the number of trophies in the trophy cabinet? Is success a simple measure of getting up off the couch and outside in the fresh air? Is success winning a world champs or an Olympic gold? Is success the very simple activity of just moving because before this was something that seemed impossible? We all have different success measures. We all have different goals. We all have different dreams but one thing is for sure and that is that we get out of something what we put in.

To a certain extent that is…

Where am I going with this? Well, racing is such a wonderful thing but can be oh so cruel at the same time. Especially draft legal racing. Time trialing bikes or even non drafting triathlon racing performances are generally a product of the effort put in on an individual basis where drafting is adhered to of course (that’s a whole other blog entry). Drafting races are often not in the same boat here. ‘They are not willing to work, so I am not willing to work’ … a common thought process amongst a draft legal bike group. Not my style…I don’t like this attitude.


I have struggled to get my swim level back to where it once was and so I find myself coming out in chase packs of recent times. This means being in a bike group with work to do and gaps to close down. Last weekend I opened my season with the first round of the French Grand Prix league in Dunkerque. These races always attract the big dogs and they are always sure to give you a good run for your money. I love these races because getting to stand on the start line as a team racing the best triathletes in the world is something special in itself. Last weekend I ended up in a bike group who didn’t seem to have any inclination of wanting to roll through and work as a group. We were a small 28 seconds down off the chase group and that’s such a closable time gap that I just don’t understand why no one was willing to help!! I took my Ribble beauty to the front of the group and stayed there for more than my fair share of time trying to put in a big effort to try help close the gap. Solo efforts are hard when the group ahead is a big one and has a good work ethic!! For 4 out of the 5 laps I gave my legs a good hammering and with one lap to go I decided to sit in and try find some run legs…turns out I didn’t even bother packing them for the trip…but hey ho – the battle field is a tough one!!

So as I was saying, you get out of things what you put in…with draft legal racing being the exception. Work your legs off one the bike and if your group isn’t willing to help, well then you wont reap the rewards you could have…all very tactical really!! The joys!!


So how did I look at my race upon review? Well, finishing as low down as I did was not what I wanted but I had to look at it in smaller sections. With the level of swim volume that I have banked due to heavy work load, was I happy to lose just 20 odd seconds to some of the best swimmers on the circuit? With the little amount of biking hours I have put in was I happy to be able to sit on the front for so long and push hard? With my running…has the big miles all winter paid off? To answer those questions I would say yes, yes and no. Running for me has been a big focus this winter. I banked a fabulous winter and I am running better than even before in training but the first race of the season just didn’t quite have the running I wanted. You can never predict what will happen in a race. You can only control what you do. I knew hopping off the bike I didn’t have great legs but I tried to focus on form and keeping technique strong. I felt I did and that in itself was a success. For me I had many successes throughout the race. I am not looking at the overall placing as a measure of success because that’s not how I will improve. Break it down, learn from it and move on. Success.

Next up is another draft legal race here in the UK this time. We race down in Blenheim palace next weekend with TV coverage highlights in the coming weeks. Hopefully you will see me and my Ribble Rock repping the brand!! If you see me about don’t be shy to come say hi! Always nice to see fellow Ribbler’s rocking it large on the big scale!!

Hope everyone is off to a cracking start to their seasons and I wish you all the best for your next race. Remember, the overall results isn’t the biggest measure of success for you and your results…there are so many small things within a race that you can analyse. Take the good with the bad. Learn from them and move on and improve for next time!

Happy pedaling and stay safe J


P.S. My campaign has a day or two left so if you would like to take a look, please do


Team Ribble: ‘Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.’

Ailbhe 1

Whether you are an elite world class athlete at the top of your game, or you are a newbie to your sport, your situation is unique to you and only you. That is what we all have in common. We all have a unique situation. We all have goals. We all want the best from ourselves. We all want to achieve. But everyone is unique. Everyone is individual. Everyone is an individual.

Even within a similar group of athletes who strive for the same goal, call it Olympic Gold, every single one of them have taken a different pathway on route to the race which will determine the outcome of their goals. Every one of those athletes will have had to battle different situations to get them to where they now stand. Life is a challenge. No one has it smooth sailing and that is the biggest thing we all have in common. Challenges.

Within the triathlon community, the word ‘challenge’ might bring with it a different connation. Within the long distance triathlon community there is a Challenge family. This is a selection of long distance triathlons that are run all over the world. For myself and my boyfriend Rich, our April Challenge was in Fuerteventura. Rich was racing his first half ironman as a pro, and I was on hand as no.1 supporter/helper.

Rich had set out a race plan. He set off to race and the plan was underway. The run leg was the important leg for him where he wanted to bank a fast split…cue the challenge. Rich being used to running 5km and 10km off the bike, set off a little hard throwing in a 2.57min/km within the first three kilometres. He knew he shouldn’t have done that as we had laid out the pacings but such is racing and such are these learning curves that seem to come with every challenge. Life hey…what a wonderful thing!

The week before we flew to Fuerteventura I had a camp with my French Team, Brive Limousin Triathlon in southern France. When I think of the south of France, I think of sunshine….yeah, easy to say that wasn’t the case. At this time of the year, I was just about 2 weeks shy of one whole year healthy. The race was on to make it to a year and this was a battle I was not willing to let slip through my hands. Rain and colder damp sessions meant having to be super careful with my health. Lack of rest between sessions and lack of naps meant my body was under strain. Lack of normality meant new challenges for my body to deal with. I was not losing this battle. I just needed to survive France and get to the sunshine in the Canary islands to replenish my vitamin D stores. With careful management, the health hurdle was hopped and I found myself in sunny Fuerteventura with my beautiful Ribble bike 🙂

Ailbhe 2

Back in the UK now and I am simply counting down the days until May 1st where I will wake up a whole new person. One year, including a leap day, 366 days of health. That for me is HUGE. That is 366 days of uninterrupted training. That is 366 days of consistency. That is a goal achieved in my life that I never thought possible. That is one happy Ailbhe. That is simply magical. I have come through a lot of illness in the past where my body just did not want to play ball. I have battled mentally for a long time with my choice of pathway and I have come through everything stronger, healthier and finally happier than ever before. I am sure there are a lot of people out there who have battled mentally and physically just like I have done, but just know that if your battle is still on going, there is a future brighter than before just ahead. See the challenges and relish what they have to offer. The final hop over the last hurdle brings with it such a feeling of strength and fulfilment that you will wonder why you ever took so long in getting there. See a challenge and go for it.

Ailbhe 3

My next challenge? I have started a crowd funding project with . My reason why? As an elite athlete, finance is huge. Camps away and races abroad all cost money and for me, I work two jobs on casual contracts to earn my keep. Not easy with a full on training schedule thrown in the mix also. I would love to be able to get some more coaching badges under my belt that will provide me with a platform to reach out and coach athletes. This would act as a form of income for me and allow me more time at home, rather than in the work place and on my feet. Marginal gains are huge…oxymoronic?!! If you are interested I would love for you to hop over to this link and have a read and support me. Coaching courses are expensive and at the moment, the money I earn is spent on living, there isn’t any residual for coaching course fees. I have dreams that I would love for you to be a part of.

Check back again next month for more rambles 🙂