If you were new to Cycling what would you do first? + Sarah Vaughan’s journey to her first Ironman.


This might seem an odd post this month since most people reading this blog started cycling several years ago, but it’s an interesting idea to reflect on and makes you think about whether you have everything covered. Most of us learn to ride a bike as a child and just hop on whatever we have been given, This follows through into Adult life, probably because we see bicycles as a mode of transport until we decide it’s going to be our sport!  So in a perfect world this is what we think you would focus on and in this order if you were starting from scratch;

Bike Fit before you start riding – to begin it’s important to purchase a bike fit of purpose; what type of riding are going to do, will you want to do some sportives in the future or races or triathlon?

Then when you’ve purchased the correct bike, the first thing we would do is get a good bike fit done based on the type of riding you want to to do.  Bike Fits are very good to ensure you get the most out of your training (all the power going into your bike is moving you forward) and to prevent injury, especially when first starting out.  The bike fit should also include shoe cleat position to ensure you don’t get any injuries from an incorrectly positioned cleat.

Core Stability Exercises – we use our core more than we realise in cycling.  If you start these straight away it will allow you do more training, sustain longer rides and help prevent injuries.  Key muscles groups to work on are Abs, back, shoulders and neck as well as glutes and hip flexors.

Pedalling Action – before you get into bad habits establishing a good pedalling technique is invaluable, you will go faster for the same effort and it will also help prevent injuries as well.

Cornering and Descending Technique – get this right and you are less likely to crash and have time off the bike!

Injury Prevention – whenever you start a new sport, increase the amount of exercise switch sports, you are more likely to be prone to getting injures if you don’t look after yourself properly. A good training build up, is about building slowly and training consistently, so as much as possible, it’s important not to have time off your bike through injury. Injury Prevention includes;

During Training Sessions – warm ups and warm downs, good gear selection,

Post Training Sessions – Stretching and Foam Rollers

Once a week focus – Core stability session as above; could be gym session, at home or yoga. Sports Massage.

Nutrition – once you start training properly you will need to fuel your rides properly and then use good nutrition for recovery.

Start Training Properly – of course you will start riding straight away but if you can get everything else in place first above then the training will go much better from the off!

If you were starting cycling from scratch, what would you do differently this time?

Sarah Vaughan’s Barcelona Ironman

We first met Sarah in March at one of our Tenerife Training Camps.  She was kick starting her training for the Barcelona Ironman in October.


Sarah had done some triathlon events before but nothing like the distance of an Ironman so this was a new challenge.  She is a strong bike rider and has good endurance so this put her in good stead for the event but she also had a back problem, which was manageable on the bike but gave her big problems when running.

In Sarah’s own words…

“As with most endurance events (and certainly in the opinions of most endurance event participants) I wouldn’t say my training went anywhere near to plan – my back never allowed me to do anything like the amount of running I had hoped but I found ways round it and made it to the start line.

I worked hard on my swimming (never seeming to get any faster but certainly never feeling flustered in the water) and spent many hours in the saddle. When I realised running long distances was putting my back at risk I took a suggestion from Dom and began building up my walking endurance – making it to over 4 hours on my feet before the big day.

Along the way I have had some fab training rides this year – not quite sticking to a strict training plan as I might have hoped after our week in Tenerife but enjoying some great rides nonetheless.”


So how did the big day go?

“It all came together perfectly – it was a pretty dull start to the day which made for a slightly chilly, choppy swim. After an early shower on the bike it was mostly dry and not too hot. While many a more serious athlete was there with their energy gels and electrolyte drinks I managed to pack my usual bike picnic of cheese and Marmite sandwiches, why change a proven formula!”

She embarked on her strict jog-walk strategy for the marathon feeling pretty well hydrated and nourished. Despite never jogging for more than 3 consecutive minutes (save for the last 2k when stable-door syndrome kicked in) she managed to finish the marathon in under 5.5hrs – meaning an overall finish time of 14hrs 6mins, nearly an hour and a half faster than she dared hope.

She says of her achievement…

“I won’t be breaking any records any time soon but I’ve certainly got the bug and hope to do another one in 2020.

It was such a lovely event – so friendly, supportive and totally inclusive. Having been worried about my physical capability to complete an Ironman I am now utterly convinced that anyone with the mental commitment to it, can.”

A huge well done Sarah, that’s an amazing achievement, we knew you could do it as you do have the right mental commitment but also the ability to be flexible and alter your training to make things work particularly around your back issues. Great time for your first Ironman.  Wishing you all the best for the Etape and whatever you decide to do in 2019.


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