Blog – Emma Coldwell


Time for reflection by Emma after her first year in the saddle where cycling has become an enormous part of her life

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Blog – Emma Coldwell
(Read more from Emma’s blog here) 


A new year entered and my first year in the saddle completed. It perhaps marks a seemingly small milestone – but cycling has become an enormous part of my life now and so much seems to have happened in the past twelve months.

So it’s time for reflection, but also goal setting, as my focus needs to be on the future and not the past. What a steep learning curve! Having gained invaluable experience and numerous scars along the way – I wonder what excitement is in store for 2015.

Training is changing… having enjoyed a few months of base, company and cake, the return of solo rides, lots of turbo training (having kids and the recent icy conditions have meant that most of my training has been indoors!). It also marks the start of the ongoing battle, training hard and training my brain to manage it. The inner conversation, when it hurts and I want to stop, begins again!

There is also renewed excitement as we plan the racing calendar and even more so to see how my first winter will affect my performance! After dreaming of some warm training conditions, plans changed a little. Ten days in Lanzarote turned to three in Northumberland… far more beautiful, however absolutely, blummin’ freezing!


It was stupidly cold, some of the roads resembled frozen waterfalls – which made pedaling up them very interesting indeed. Where there was no ice – grit and mud ‘a plenty covered the roads – clogging my front brake like super fast dry cement. Resulting in me having to use one of my water bottles as a mobile hose! I am sure that my wheels and brakes will have felt enormous benefit from the sticky carb. filled liquid as I watched my fluid sustenance disappear and far too rapidly!

Every available layer that I had packed was worn in an attempt to keep at least my body warm… there was no hope for the extremities! It took quite some time to dress before each ride, as I piled on 3 base layers, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, long sleeved winter jersey, gilet and when out on the bike I had to resort to adding my fluoro waterproof in an attempt to retain a speck of warmth!

Sporting a great look, with only my eyes peeking through between my helmet and buff, I hit the roads… and who cares what you look like when you have the spectacular Northumberland scenery to stare at – and not a soul to share the road with, if you excuse the dead stoat and the speeding hare! Only me, my bike and the open road :)


One particularly memorable route on the way to Bamborough Castle took me over the river… hardly passable by car. A long and extremely narrow footbridge loomed. Initially it looked okay – I hoped the timber underneath the icy covering would provide some grip. Turns out, what appeared to be timber, was actually concrete – which proved to be very slippy indeed.

Despite rails at either side, it was treacherous!!! I like adventure – but being on my own, in the freezing cold (have you got the picture yet?!) and in the middle of nowhere, I did not fancy taking a dip in the icy, fast flowing water beneath.

I un-clipped with one foot as a precaution, one hand on the bars… the white knuckles on my other gloved hand, gripped the hand rail for dear life. The ice on the rail turning to water and making my cold, blue tinged, fingers even colder. The bridge seemed to last an eternity! On the other side I was handsomely rewarded with a beautiful, flat stretch of road, running adjacent to the river. Oh the relief!

The relief only short lived as I soon discovered the planned route was intending to take me on a section of route 68… ‘unsuitable for vehicles’ and in those conditions it didn’t look that suitable even for a knobbly-tyred MTB either! A mud-fest so sticky no tyres were to pass without hitting the deck! Needless to say it was not a route suitable for my ‘Iron gate’ – which would have sunk to a depth I would have been incapable of removing her from!

It really was breathtakingly beautiful and riding on superb roads, with hardly a car even on what would be considered a main road, made a wonderful change. The ride to Alnwick was amazing and the final climb a steep but enjoyable one! At least it raised my core temperature by a few degrees!

In the 3 days on the bike I met one other cyclist, a lady on horseback, a pack of dogs, a tractor, a postman and a few cars (when I inadvertently joined the A1 for a few hundred yards!) And lots of farm animals and wildlife – it was pretty special. The climbs were fun, the descents superb and the flat just perfect for zooming!

I will definitely visit again, although perhaps in the summer months when I can ride without feeling that my body will never again reach a normal temperature! It would also be great for group riding as there were so many village signs, but sprinting against yourself repeatedly, soon becomes a little dull!

A new steed has joined the team, a second ‘elegant heron!’ – the iconic Raleigh image, is now mounted firmly on my turbo. Larger and in a very bold red, it weighs an awful lot less than my happy yellow ‘iron gate’ except I don’t gain any benefit from it in that respect, as it only speeds in a stationary position!


To Strava or not to Strava?
What else is new, apart from the New year? Ah yes… I have very dubiously joined Strava – to see what all the fuss is about!  Wondering whether competing for the next segment will catch on – in what a fellow cyclist described as ‘gamification’.

I am not sure. I have only recorded one steady social ride. I won’t be adding my turbo training, nor sharing with the world what my training consists of, but in a very lighthearted spirit I will try it for myself! Let the games begin, the segments start or whatever the term may be!


One for the next Time Trial!

We are still keenly awaiting the new Biemme team kit, cameraman at the ready and pen posed for the team write up. Pictures will follow shortly afterwards! I was over the moon to collect some of last year’s silverware at the Seacroft Wheelers annual bash. Even happier to discover that I am the fastest lady on the BAR trophy since 1975 with an average speed of 26.334 mph. I think that was a combination of my 10, 25 & 50 mile TT times.

What made me even happier was how proud my little girls were… both walking around all day with an enormous sense of pride, medals sparkling around their little necks. Making them proud makes all the sacrifice and hard work worthwhile.

Sometimes training in the evenings, when they have hit the sack isn’t the easiest thing to motivate myself to do, especially following a day at work too. They are not young for long and they do encourage me to train with them too… With calls for me to put their little bikes on the turbo too. Little Liv – my youngest is content at pedaling backwards. Chloe wants to zoom and she can hit a higher rpm than I can at the moment!


I never dreamed of getting on a bike. Never dreamed of racing, time trialling and yet I now love it. I never dreamed that I would want to continue and compete after my first ever bike ride and yet I seem to have found something that I love.

Always be willing to try something new, always persevere even if it hurts and leave room to dream! Here is to an even better year than the last!


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