The road.cc Bike of the Year awards ceremony is held every January and we are very pleased to announce that three Ribble bikes (below) were recognised in no fewer than five award categories as finalists or the outright winner.
A one mile swim in a cold, but fresh, Ullswater (13 degrees)… a 36 mile (1,489ft of ascent) ride involving a 4.5km category 1 climb up ‘The Struggle’ (which averages 8% gradient and maxes at 20% in places)… followed by a 9 mile (3,118ft of ascent) run to the top of Helvellyn and back down… Those are the three reasons this is deemed as one of the toughest triathlons in the world.
Brutal ride leg
The ride leg alone is so tough that it was described as ‘brutal’ by some of the Tour of Britain riders who followed us up the next day on stage two of the pro race.
As someone who loves a challenge this race was right up my street. I have to admit though that my training for this race had not been my specific focus for the season, my main focus was the middle distance, and to try and go under 5 hours at the Monster Middle a couple of weeks before.
However, there was no way I could pass on this challenge especially as it was on my birthday. I was confident that the strength gained from the middle distance training would get me through the race and if all went well would hopefully see me make the podium!
OK, so on race day my plan was simply to attack the swim, attack the bike and then hit the run as hard as I could. Due to the lack of ‘fell’ specific training I knew that I could not purely rely on my run, although this is often my best discipline.
Ready, Steady, Go!
The water was cold, but fresh and I was excited to get going – I had panicked at a race a month before where I had a disaster of a swim and I was determined not to let these demons get to me – I aimed to start hard and fast. We turned at the first buoy and I could see that I was mid pack and working through the sea of bodies and green hats. I breathed to my left and I could see that there was another female swimmer, so my aim was to not let her go and to try and get out in front. As we hit the final turning buoy to the finish I put in a spurt and managed to grab a few precious seconds getting out the water as 3rd female overall.
Out of T1 the aim was to get my head down and push hard and never look back as we headed towards the famous ‘Struggle’ which takes you to the top of Kirkstone Pass from Ambleside. Although most of the bike route was TT/Tri bike-friendly I had decided to race on my trusty Ribble R872 as I felt this would give me a greater advantage whilst climbing.
The R872 sure didn’t disappoint, this bike really works with you and certainly holds its own when you really want to pick up the pace. Now I’m not going to say it made climbing up ‘The Struggle’ a breeze, but it certainly made easier work than if I had used my triathlon bike. Climbing can be quite awkward and harder on the legs and I needed every ounce of energy I could save ready to tackle the nine mile run up and down the mountain of Helvellyn.
It was only when I got the top of ‘The Struggle’ with its Tour de France type atmosphere – the support was simply epic and electrifying – that I got information from the crowd that I was the leading female and that there was no one else in sight. That was a very nice surprise as I had still thought I was in third and it gave me a confidence boost as I cautiously descended Kirkstone Pass (not taking any risks) and then pushed hard as the road flattened out to T2 thinking of every second!
Heading into the Helvellyn run…
Trail shoes on and a quick drink and I was ready to hit the run into the unknown world of how I would fare on the fells and not feeling quite as confident as I usually am when I get to the run stage. As I hit the steep ascent towards the ‘hole in the wall’, thoughts started creeping into my head… saying that I was going to be caught and that I would not make It to the top.
At this point I was briskly walking with no response from the legs to try to run, but as I hit the flatter section towards the summit I was able to get my legs moving and I soon found my running rhythm. I then gained a further boost of confidence when I saw my dad just before the final ascent and he informed me that I was still clear of the second placed woman. From this point I knew I had to make it to the top and then give it everything I had down to the finish.
The final ascent is up Swirral Edge which requires the skills of a rock climber more than a runner, but this all added to the fun and the challenge of the race. Finally pulling up with my hands I was relieved to reach the summit and from here I knew it was game on and time to attack the final descent and run into the finish. Pushing hard and back into my running rhythm, the negative thoughts of the ascent had well and truly disappeared and I was now starting to enjoy the moment! I ran towards the finish and even managed to muster up the energy to put in a little sprint finish.
Lifted by the cheers of the crowd I could not help but have a great big smile on my face as I crossed the finish line. I was so relieved to have beaten this gruelling challenge – with the added bonus of bringing home the win!
Winning such an iconic race, it sure was a birthday to remember.
On reflection, I was pleased to see that I had taken the lead on the bike as coming from a run background you can still be seen as a runner playing at triathlon and just relying on your run. However coming out of the water in third place and then putting the fastest bike split in by two minutes it finally looks like I am becoming a COMPLETE triathlete!
So that was a wrap for my triathlon season, I’m now having an end of season break in Australia! Until the new season arrives – embrace… enjoy… and ride with a smile😉
Since my last tri race in Malmo, Sweden, I’ve raced in both Denmark and France. If only fitness was gained at the same rate as air miles, hey!
The European Cup round in Denmark coincided with the Nordic Championships and had only a small number of starters. I went into it wearing no. 9 on my arm and was ever so hopeful of ‘beating’ my race number. My original goal was a top 10 and my edited goal, closer to the race with the excitement building, was a top 5. On the day I managed ninth place and achieved my original goal and my first European Cup top 10 in a senior field. First international top 10… I will take it.
I forgot my biking legs
Was I disappointed? Yeah. Why? Well… a trending pattern this year is that I seem to forget to pack at least one of my three abilities be it swim, bike or run. This race it was my biking legs! Will I ever pack them all for the same event? I do hope so!
The race went as follows: a sea swim with approximately 300 metres to the first buoy which meant not so much hustling and bustling to get to the front as soon as possible. I appreciated this and made it to the first buoy in fourth place sitting on the hip of Amanda Bohlin, who is currently ranked 64th on the World WTS rankings. I had her marked before the race as she also raced in Sweden and I knew how much faster she was in the water than me there. I got to the first buoy and was happy. I had a hip to swim on and I felt good.
Right hand turn around the buoy and it seems I maybe stepped out of the race for a few seconds… where did that hip go?! I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I put in a big effort to try and get back on feet, but it seemed I was swimming in a ‘30 mile an hour zone’ when the rest of the girls were cruising along the motorway… the feet were gone. Exiting the water in sixth place with an 11 second gap to the front pack, I was faced with the most difficult of T1’s I have yet to endure. There was a man made scaffolding structure put in place to get us from sea level to the road… it was steep! The picture below doesn’t lie!
I suffered… a lot! Anyway, onto the bike and I thought – with my biking usually being my strongest discipline – that I could get on to the back of the front pack. Rich shouted the time gap to me and I could see the girls just there. ‘Just there’ became a little more with every wincing glance. Legs – shot. Engine – empty… Uh oh, this is gonna be a hard day!
I chased as hard as I could, for as long as I could, before hearing the group from behind coming up behind me… Okay Ailbhe, settle yourself because your now in the main chase pack with three girls up the road (such a dream number for a breakaway group, but anyway, next time!). I knew two of the girls in the break, one had beaten me in Sweden (Bohlin) and the other I had beaten so I was hoping that I could stay in the chase pack – sit quietly – and catch that girl on the run… dream world – BANG – back to reality.
Sitting in the back of the chase pack when I was already suffering was silly because the course had corners and a lot of them. I didn’t like having to get up and sprint every few seconds and in no time at all, after yoyo-ing for a little while, that elastic went pop and I was in no man’s land… oh god Ailbhe, what have you done?
After a couple of more corners two other girls from that chase pack had the same experience as I had earlier. They came back to me and we had a group of three. In the blink of an eye, I had lost them too. You are kidding me! Looking down at my legs wondering if they were actually still attached, I just closed my eyes and pedalled as hard as I could and I eventually got back on to the two girls. A second wind maybe? Who knew? I was ready to work though.
We rolled through on 20 second efforts until the last lap where for some reason the two girls wanted to play tactics and decided they didn’t want to roll through… ok, great. I flicked my elbow numerous times, but there was no sign of anyone pulling through. I looked back – I had a small gap. Ah! That explains that. I moved right over to the side and ushered the girls through. I couldn’t trust that my run legs were packed based on my bike legs being a no show. I needed them to pull their turns. Up the final hill and into T2… the girl in front of me came crashing down.
Thankfully I had a bit of trouble getting my feet out of my shoes and a gap bigger than I would usually like had grown between us ended up being a blessing as she fell and took up a considerable width of the road! Thank god for my god knows what number mistake of the race so far!
On to the run and I flew out of transition – faster than usual… uh oh, was I going to suffer?! We hit the hill on the run which we would do twice and wow oh wow were my legs on fire. Oh god Ailbhe please, please, please come on! Crested the hill and suddenly started to feel ok – ish… The girl just ahead of me was a different girl who I had beaten in Sweden but we ran very similar run splits so I was aware of how level pegging it might be. She had a gap out of T2 and it stayed that way. Although I feel like my legs came back a little bit, they were just not really in the mood to race. I hurt a lot during the race but I wasn’t hurting because I was breaking speed limits, I was simply hurting because my body was just not feeling race day! It happens.
I passed girls from the chase pack and finished up in ninth place. Upon analysis of the race it actually looks that had I just stayed in the chase pack, never mind the front pack I was actually running to battle for a podium spot. That’s an encouraging outlook on a very topsy turvy performance but people don’t always see the ifs and buts of racing because it doesn’t really matter most of the time. You judge a race on the result not on the ‘if’.
On to a French tri
I had a week before my next race which was with my French Grand Prix team Brive Limousin Triathlon in Quiberon. Quiberon is the fourth race of five in the grand prix Divison 1 league. I was very excited to get over there and race in France again as I hadn’t raced with the team since Dunkerque in May – which was my first race of the season. I was all set and ready to rock and in the days before the race I was feeling very springy and everything was looking food. Bike legs felt like they were present on the bike warm up. Run legs felt like they were present on the warm up. Shoulders and arms didn’t feel heavy and I felt happy in my nappy and ready for what was to come.
Down to the beach start and one look at the starting pens had my jaw dropping! It was such a long run-in that the race format all of a sudden had changed. It was now a run-swim-run-bike-run race. There was a lot of beach running to be done in Quiberon with entry and exit in and out of the sea. My run-in left a lot to be desired and its sad to say that that was actually the best of what was to come in the next ten minutes.
My swim – pffffft – just didn’t happen. No reason behind it – it just wasn’t there. I would have been quicker aqua jogging through the 750m than swimming it like I did! Absolute no, no. Out on to the bike and the chase was on. There were single bodies all over the place and I knew the chase had to be hard or this was really going to be an awful day. I could see two groups of two girls up the road and I absolutely drilled it as hard as I could on my Ribble Aero 883 and I bridged that gap by myself and we were now a group of five. Ok, time to work. We could see the chase pack up the road. They were just there.
We had one really strong girl in our group who was organising the turns and drilling it as hard as she could. I did my bit and kept on her good side. With two laps to go she decided she wanted to go and see who would go with her on the technical bit of the lap coming into the transition area. I had just taken my turn on the front and had slotted in at the back when she went. The girl behind her went with her but the girl third in line didn’t want any of it. I came from fifth wheel back and chased it down and got on their wheels again.
My legs were feeling strong but that gap wasn’t closing. 45 seconds was the call. As a group of three we rode the last two laps and came into T2 only to hear the group from behind hot on our heels. All of that work for just six or seven seconds advantage? Oh no!
Out of T2 I went in third position and the legs didn’t feel half bad. Ok Ailbhe – run with these girls, just run with them! I was passed by four girls, I think, on the run and I passed three girls but at that stage it was a little too late. It turned out that the front pack was huge and it was a case of running for a spot from around 45th onwards… yikes what had happened? Bad day at the office… what on earth? One day all three will go smoothly and I won’t know what to do with myself – I dream of that day!
Anyway, next up for me was a race in Ireland. Maybe all three disciplines will go to plan there… who knows? The suspense is a killer! The season is drawing to a close now so better make the most of the evenings and weekends.
Stay safe and happy pedalling,
Cycling journalist and The Guardian’s North of England editor Helen Pidd raved about the Ribble 525 steel bike in last Saturday’s weekend edition of the national newspaper
The Ribble 525 is our versatile steel bike that is designed for a multitude of practical uses. Our love affair with steel frames has been going on for decades, but that’s not to say we haven’t moved on – far from it. Today, our steel 525 road bike is built for the modern era, meaning you can expect plenty of comfort and durability as well style. Prices for a fully built 525 start at £695.95.
Journalist Helen Pidd even tested the 525 during a rainy weekend in the Peak District and her review was published in Saturday’s edition of The Guardian newspaper.
Pidd is the author of “Love your bike: the Complete Guide to Everyday Cycling” and a well-respected writer on all things cycling.
She gave the bike a proper testing riding with a friend who is predominantly a mountain biker which she says in the review “meant a few ill-advised ‘shall we just see where this one goes?’ diversions. One, past the Derbyshire village of Wash, involved pedalling up a gravelly stream and almost an early bath.”
It soaked up the worst bumps
The 525 performed perfectly though and according to Helen, “The 25mm tyres rolled along fine, even on rocky terrain. The skinny steel frame (Reynolds 525) soaked up the worst of the bumps”
You can build your own Ribble 525 (from £695.95) using our easy-to-use BikeBuilder here.
We’re including more of Helen’s review below but for the full article visit The Guardian here.
“You know how some bikes just feel good? You get on, set off, and think: Oh, we are going to be together a long time. Like when you meet someone new and fit perfectly into their embrace on the first go without any need for adjustments. It was like that for the Ribble and me.”
“It looks a delight… It’s the perfect little winter bike, or a very snazzy commuter. I can really see a future for the pair of us together.”
Tested: Ribble 525 in numbers
Frame (£659.95) Ribble 525 STEEL Winter/Audax
Groupset (+ £139.99) Campagnolo Veloce Silver 10 Speed Double
Seatpost (+ £18.99) CSN Carbon S.E. Seatpillar
Saddle (+ £5.99) Selle Italia Lady Flow Saddle
Guardian rating 9/10
Full review here: Cycling | The Guardian
We hope you’re as excited as we are as a feast of cycling at the Rio Olympics approaches. Eighteen cycling gold medals will be keenly fought for and it all starts this weekend. Four years ago, at the London Olympics, Great Britain headed the medals table with a fantastic haul of eight gold, two silver and two bronze. Who will you be rooting for in Rio?
The opening ceremony takes place late (23.15) on Friday evening and cycling is one of the major sports that will dominate the first week of Games action with the men’s road race kicking things off on Saturday (6th August).
Cycling fans are lucky that practically all the racing will take place at convenient times for UK viewers (all times stated here are British Summer Time). The road races, time trials, triathlon and mountain biking will all take place during the afternoon and the six days of track cycling sessions will run largely from 14.00 to 22.30.
The time difference between the UK and Brazil will mean that some of the biggest (evening) events from other sports will happen in the very early hours of the morning and the BBC’s Breakfast Show will become an Olympics highlights show so we can catch up with events.
The Olympic road races will be contested by national teams of up to five riders each over a tough and lumpy circuit that should favour hilly Classics riders. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde and Italian Vincenzo Nibali are being mentioned as favourites, but the road race can throw up a surprise winner.
Britain take a strong five-man road team to the Olympics but no recognised sprinter. The final climb is thought to be too far from the finish line to favour Chris Froome or Adam Yates so Team GB will perhaps be hoping to get Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard or Geraint Thomas into a small breakaway group that could contest the medals.
In the women’s race World champion Lizzie Armitstead will be up against a strong Dutch team again as she hopes to upgrade the silver medal she won in London four years ago behind Marianne Vos.
Television commentator Anthony McCrossan was driven around the road race course this week and said, “It’s going to be an incredible race. The course is very hard with stunning scenery.”
UCI President Brian Cookson is also excited about Rio and told the press, “The road race mixes some of Rio’s most iconic backdrops such as Copacabana and Ipanema with some really testing sections such as the Grumari Circuit. The steep climb up Grumari Road is sure to provide a unique test for time trial riders.”
The men’s road race, over 237.5km, starts at 13.30 (finishing approx. 19.51) on Saturday (6th August) followed by the 136.9km women’s road race at 16.15 (finishing approx. 20.23) on Sunday.
GB Men’s team: Chris Froome; Steve Cummings; Ian Stannard; Geraint Thomas; and Adam Yates. GB Women’s team: Lizzie Armitstead; Nikki Harris; and Emma Pooley.
Team Great Britain is likely to select Chris Froome to compete in the time trial where he stands an excellent chance of following in the wheel tracks of Sir Bradley Wiggins and winning the gold medal. The GB selections for the time trial will be made after the road race events. Update: Team GB time trial selections are: Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Emma Pooley.
Both time trials place on Wednesday 10th August with the women riders starting first from 12.30 (racing over 29.86km) and the men riders heading out from 14.00. The men’s 54.56km two-lap course includes four significant climbs which will suit Tour de France winner Froome.
The large track programme starts on Thursday 11th August and the Men’s Team Sprint will be the first final. The Men’s Team Pursuit featuring Sir Bradley Wiggins will also begin on the opening day at 17.23 and the British quartet of Wiggins, Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Owain Doull will be hoping to qualify for the final taking place at 18.20 on Friday 12th August. The track events continue until Tuesday 16th August.
The men’s triathlon is contested on Thursday 18th August with the women’s race on Saturday 20th August both starting at 11.00. Alistair Brownlee defends his Olympic title and heads a six-strong Team GB triathlon squad.
GB Men’s triathlon: Alistair Brownlee, Jonny Brownlee and Gordon Benson. GB Women’s triathlon: Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.
The cycling events at the Rio Olympics will conclude with the two mountain bike races, around a five kilometre lap, on the final weekend of competition. World road race champion Peter Sagan returns to off-road racing, but it would be a big surprise if he can beat the MTB specialists.
The women will race on Saturday 20th August and the men 24 hours later. Both races start at 16.30 and Grant Ferguson is the only British rider selected.
Olympic Cycling Timetable
Sat 6 Aug: Men’s Road Race.
Sun 7 Aug: Women’s Road Race.
Wed 10 Aug: Road Time Trials.
Thu 11 to Tue 16 Aug: Track events.
Thu 18 & Sat 20 Aug: Triathlon
Sat 20 & Sun 21 Aug: Mountain Biking.
The Paralympic Games follow on in Rio and run from 7-18th September.