Olivia Vandyk

 Olivia Find Oliva on twitter @2winterest

I am a coffee lover, an on-line journalist and mum of four. Despite living in very beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, I  live a very sedentary lifestyle with laptop time, TV, story time, driving and latterly breastfeeding my 5 month old twins. My past sporting achievements amount to not very much since school: a couple of lapsed gym memberships, a race for life  that I walked and a 5k "corporate challenge" when I briefly worked in the City. I don't even have a bike - currently the only cycling gear I have is my Team Spatone jersey!
I wanted to become a part of Team Spatone as I now have two young daughters and I feel like it's important to try and make exercise a part of your life.

The Event!

I stayed with relatives the night before the Cycletta and did not sleep well as was anxiously awaiting the alarm and didn’t want to be late.

Having never really done a “race” of any kind, I was nervous about how the event itself would work.

I was driven to Losely Park and arrived as dawn was creeping in around the misty grandeur of the big house.

If it weren’t for the lycra I would have thought I’d stepped into Downton Abbey.

But from then on there was no real reason to be nervous; everyone was so friendly and super helpful. The atmosphere amongst everyone was really friendly.

I made my way over to the British Bike Hire tent, and was unbelievably impressed at how quick and easy it was to be kitted out for my rental bike - which went like a DREAM.

Then on to breakfast. We all milled around nervously, waiting for Victoria to arrive - when she did so, she was personable, inspiring, witty, and passionate about a variety of topics - top of which is women in cycling and eating well, We also talked about Strictly ball dresses and her Olympic lycra too which she apparently keeps at the bottom of her wardrobe. Someone also asked about selfies with her and we all flooded in - she couldn’t have been more up for it - even getting a better angle for the one she took with me!

So then to the start, I was doing the novice 20k distance -  and we were briefed on the very big hill quite which Kerry from Revolution had also warned of us about - so now I was getting quite worried about it. We were advised there was no shame in getting off to push if needed.

Off through the Downton-esque drive, gently gliding over the speed bumps and out into Surrey’s Sunday morning.

The marshals at key points were helpful and encouraging. I was one of the later starters, and so on arrival to The Hill there, I noticed a couple of people walking, and I encouraged them as I went past - “come on ladies!”

I then went round a corner to discover that The Hill really did go ON and ON. I changed down gears and then ran out of lower gears. “I will not get off, I will not get off” I was saying to myself. I did stop for a breath (foolish girl!) and took a minute to catch it but I did not get off, go me!) Once I got going again (Mental note to self for future: stopping means you have to start from scratch)  it was pretty much okay.

To arrive back in the park, and see my husband and children cheering me on as I finished was absolutely amazing - I had to be reminded by a marshall to dismount - I was ready to do a victory lap! My phone beeped with my time - I had done a PB by some margin so was beyond pleased with myself. I then went to the relaxation tent and did a cool down stretch and a sports massage.

My husband’s picture of me grinning with my medal received nearly as many likes as when I had my twins - and to be honest it’s right up there with some of my proudest moments. Doing something that was so far outside my usual comfort zone that has given me so much enjoyment and confidence. I can’t wait to do another Cycletta next year, this time the 40km!

August Update 

September is a great time to get back into the swing of things with the whole new shiny academic year thing going on. Already, I've learnt a lot.

I've learnt: 

That doing any long stints on a stationary bike is boring, even if you have a glorious Tuscan hillside vista to enjoy.

That inexplicably people are more impressed if you say you are doing a half marathon on a bike (even though that is 21k) than a 20k

I am fitter and leaner than I was (have lost 3lbs) , despite eating huge quantities of all Italian delicacies on our holiday, pasta, white bread, ice cream.

Since my return, I have discovered Lizi's Low Sugar Granola which I've been having with almond milk to add more protein on Emma's advice to my previously very high GI breakfast of weetabix with lots of sugar. This new breakfast coupled with my morning Spatone is really helping me maintain my energy levels. 

At the time of writing we have 37 days to go until the event, and it's starting to hit home.

I usually manage to be very solitary while I ride and choose quiet times of day and low traffic rural roads, I absolutely LOVE the thinking time and space it gives me.So I am nervous about cycling alongside so many other people on the roads on the day. I'm also a bit anxious about the hills.

But, I am very excited about the challenge day and know that I will be SO proud of myself when I have finished!

July Update 

So I have been getting a bit more in the swing of things now, as the event deadline approaches, now less that ten weeks away.

I've managed a chat with Emma the nutritionist which is brilliant and am working on cutting out empty carbs; my head knows it's the right thing to do but my tummy missed the starch.

We're off on holiday to Italy next week - so much delicious spaghetti and focaccia and other empty carbs to avoid. But there's a pool and a fitness centre so I'll be upping my training while I'm there to keep on top of things.

Ride-wise, I've been pushing myself out of my comfort zone, going on routes I wouldn't normally -I have found that wearing my team Spatone top in the early part of the evening reminds me that to go out and cycle rather than sink in to the sofa as soon as my husband gets home from work. All well and good, but it lead to one mildly embarrassing moment where I rode up what my two boys refer to (in the car) as Big Hill. So it's quite hard going and I am giving myself a pep talk out loud, like something out of an episode of Oprah Winfrey :"You can do this. You are strong and powerful. You CAN do it. You have had four children. You can DO it."

At which point out of nowhere a very fast cyclist complete with aerodynamic helmet sweeps on past me and up the hill. This is the point at which I remember of course that the wording on the back of my team Spatone top says "Keep up." <cringe> See you next month!

June Update

Wow. I can’t believe its over a month since my rather exciting trip to London.

Spinning Around
I was very nervous on arrival at Boom Cycle - it was very sleek and modern and every one was Lycra’ed up. I was wearing my husband’s T-shirt as I don’t have any gym stuff that fits me. Having been a member of various gyms over the last few years I have seen people on their way out of spinning classes looking like they were about to pass out from exhaustion, so I was very scared.

But my fears were unfounded. It was absolutely awesome. I loved the low level lighting (which meant that no one saw when my foot came out of my cleat!) and the music was completely brilliant too. My radio is usually firmly tuned to Absolute 80s, so it was outside my comfort zone too but I loved it. While the feminist in me was unimpressed about the lyrics on listening again later, I was loving the tune of Jason Derulu’s Talk Dirty and giving it large on the pedals. The energy and enthusiasm of the instructor was contagious and I felt really motivated while I was there.

I will confess to a bit of self preservation – I was probably only giving about 75%. I wasn’t sure how long the class was going to be and frankly, I didn’t want to fall off!  Or worse be so sore that I wouldn’t be able to function the next day with four children. I was rather saddle sore as although Joanne’s warm down was great, I think no amount of stretching was going to counteract the force with which I was sinking down onto the saddle in relief after the standing “sprints”. I was super grateful for a wonderfully nutty delicious recovery smoothie at the end of the class.

It was so inspiring to chat to Joanne afterwards – about her medal and her training, though realising when she was born made me feel old. Meeting the guys from the Human Race team was helpful too and I left Boom Cycle with a literal spring in my step -I bounced up the escalator at Liverpool Street and determination to succeed in my heart. (Sadly the it didn’t last long as the trains home were completely scuppered, but I digress.)

So on finally getting home, my next challenge to overcome was to find a bike: it’s going to be pretty hard to do without one.
I last bought one in the last century and it was care of the bank of Mum and Dad – things appear to have changed massively since then.
There is SO much choice – I was utterly overwhelmed and slightly taken aback by the cost. So I decided that until I get into the saddle a bit more, I am firmly sticking to a second hand hybrid found locally online. Once I got it home I gave it a quick once round our garden to my two sons’ delight – they joined in on their bikes – they have them but my husband is yet to get one but I think I have inspired him that he needs one too, now.

On my corporate sponsor (!)
I’ve been taking Spatone for years now (since my first pregnancy) whenever I feel run down. It was recommended by someone on Mumsnet and I always have a packet in the cupboard so it was great to have my training supply arrive in one go- the boys had great fun with the boxes!

Taste wise it doesn’t bother me, I usually pour it into a small glass of OJ – as I’m pretty sure the vitamin C helps the absorption of the iron.

On yer bike
Going out on the road is a bit of a leap for me as I have learnt to drive a car since I last cycled on the road as a student in the relative cycle haven of the streets of Oxford. I now live in cycling friendly sub rural Hertfordshire – many of my friends are triathletes and there are regularly cycle groups going past but I am terrifiedvery wary of the BIG lorries and the impatient school run mums (ahem) who are doubtless muttering about cyclists.

Training schedule so far:

Ride 1: around my (not very big) garden -I felt like my 15 year old self again, wheeling down the small slope and just riding for the joy of it – my kids LOVED watching me.
Ride 2 : to check whether a sign had been put on a noticeboard nearby for an event – trying out the shimano gears – bit of a serious fail there and I found myself in the wrong gear utterly.
Ride 3: to deliver a form to a neighbour – felt brilliant to be out but it wasn’t a busy time of day and I pottered there and back.
Ride 4: nipped to school to collect something – rode on the very quiet pavement (!!) as I was afraid of the big lorries- gears still not great (!)
Ride 5: Right – I really must go out and get started on this. I put my Spatone top on to remind myself of why I was doing this and chose a quiet time of day and did a 4 mile loop- only 20 minutes or so but I am breaking myself in slowly. This was my longest ride so far and I was out of breath when I got home – need to make sure that i am properly ready.

I am still waiting to speak to Kerry from Revolution and Emma the nutritionist – we have been playing voicemail tennis, so I am still overdoing the Double Deckers and underperforming on my bike – am hoping this will change by my next update.

So here I am with 15 weeks to go until the big day – plenty of time but PLENTY to do.

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.