As a life coach and a cycle coach I combine my skills to support and empower my clients to live a fitter and healthier life – to quite literally and figuratively get out of their head and on to their bike. With the work that I do it is essential that I embody the message that I sell. It would be a crying shame if I promoted personal growth, adventure and stretch in the sport that I love for everyone else but not for myself.
You will know as a coach reading this that your biggest assets are your body and your mind. Without these you are unable to support your clients and club members wholeheartedly. So what fuels your soul? How do you keep your energy topped up and your passions fired for the sport that you love especially when it’s your day job?
So here is a little story about how I fuel my soul and it is in living my Fit Life and finding mini adventures as often as I can that I do this.:
Each year I plan something new and when it comes to finding ideas for my adventures I am quite particular. I like to stretch myself physically but also mentally; an adventure needs to contain a few key ingredients:
1.Achievement – I want to be fulfilled at the end of it, having a goal to achieve gives me focus, something to aim for.
2.Passion and Energy – I want it to be something that I love, something that I can dance and sing about throughout the journey.
3.Learning – I like to learn, it gives me wings – I think Dr Seus sums it up best…..
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go
So there you have it, every year I set myself a mini adventure and it was in July this year that I took on my biggest adventure yet – 3 days of riding through the Welsh Mountains!
The Trans Cambrian Way had been discussed with two friends in June 2015, it is a 100 mile route that climbs about 5,000 meters over the Welsh hills. The countryside is beautiful, they said, you can see for miles, they said, it is like nowhere on earth…. they said. I sat listening to them at midnight in a field in the middle of Mayhem (a 24 hour mountain bike event). It whetted my appetite and as I spoke about it with my husband we both agreed it would tick a lot of boxes for our mini adventure in 2016.
What does it mean to take on a challenge?
Firstly it has to mean something to me – this is really important, I have to ask myself: what will I get out of pushing myself this hard for three days, how do I want to feel when I get back. This is before I start with the more logical questions of: what will it be like to carry all that kit for the whole day knowing that I have nowhere to stop for food if we run out or for that matter where do I go to the loo when I need it? These were the questions I had to answer and of course be prepared when I didn’t like what I heard.
My meaning was clear, I wanted to feel like I was in the middle of nowhere, to be able to connect wholeheartedly with my bike and the great outdoors – not to sound to ‘woo-woo’ but to feel at one with my bike and know that this body of mine can pedal its own way over the mountains – when you cycle you get into a rhythm that just makes everything in the world stop around you. It is also about travelling for 100 miles over terrain that most people would baulk at walking, this filled me with absolute joy.
The looming questions about how much food I was going to have to carry and where I would find discrete places to have a wee did bother me, the later rather than the former. However what we found when researching the route was, that although it was very isolated at times we did travel past many small villages and we could divert to these for facilities! This was good news and on the journey itself finding these little village hideaways really helped break up the day and enabled us to fill our rucksacks with the food of choice – Welsh Cakes!
Planning & Training
It begins, 6 months before the actual event, schedules need to be written up for both training and the adventure itself. We don’t use any special tour guides for these adventures we are solo in our organization – lets face it training plans are my life blood. First we do the research, I set up a ‘spread’ in my bullet journal (if you want to know more about bullet journaling and ‘spreads seek out Boho Berry) and simply commit everything I can think of to it. It is has a basic structure in that I have sections for logistics, route, equipment and training with each heading growing as we think about the things we need to get sorted before the event.
At some point we begin to tick off the items – under logistics we have hotels and baggage, how to get there and how to get back, bike security and food, phone calls are made and copious notes about prices and distances from the route to the B&Bs are checked. In our research we find recommendations for much of what we need but then there is always a spanner in the works! The week we have planned happens to be the week of the Great Welsh Show, no room at the inn anywhere in fact…. we discuss camping – but NO. Changing our plans to a different week could be difficult as we have the girls to think about but to our relief we can get all the logistics aligned for an earlier start. So these are the challenges that we face, constant phone calls, emails and juggling we have two bikes and four bags to get from Knighton to Machynlleth. When it is all arranged I am full of wonder at how, exactly, all this is going to work in realtime.
Training happens to be the easy part, simply get out and ride as often as I can, my base fitness is good, as a cycle coach you would expect that. It was actually the hills and skills that I wanted to concentrate on for the MTB, most of my riding, although good for distance is mainly road and so the terrain we will tackle is going to be very different from my day to day work. It was after a trip to the Malverns on my birthday in May that I became a little concerned that I don’t have the legs for the journey I am so exhausted that I sleep through the afternoon – aided by a glass of prossecco but that’s not the point! It was only 25 miles and nowhere near the type of climbs we are going to expect in just 5 weeks time – looking after my legs and a little re-think on the training was required.
Trust in your partner
When the time comes you know you have to be ready, I had been avoiding thinking about the actual ride for a few weeks – just like most of my clients! Hmm sound familiar a coach who can’t coach herself. Basically the logistics and the route mapping and the constant ‘what if’ scenarios that you work through before this type of adventure had taken over. Remember there is no A&E close by so you need to know exactly where you are at all times, the safety of my husband and I is paramount, I know we are not tracking the Alps, but this environment can still be hostile if you get a wet and windy day. I am a qualified MTB Leader so I know exactly what I need for myself and my husband to keep us safe as well as feeling comfortable reading maps and GPS settings. I am also packed for every eventuality and happy to carry it all and never have to use it. I have even followed the route on Google Earth so I can see the type of terrain I am going to be riding and to check where on the route we may need to be more mindful of our surroundings – it is little things like this that will help on the day and make the ride more comfortable and flowing.
The trust that my partner and I have is immensely important – we need to be able to tell each other how we feel when it matters most. At times we will both feel exhausted and severely down on energy, you don’t always notice it in yourself and although we are both equally fit and able, we will both feel depleted at different times. Working together to keep one another on the trail will be essential to make our overnight stops on time. i.e. before dark.
PART 2 COMING SOON…
Bio: Nicky is a professional life coach and Level 2 British Cycling Coach and MTB Leader. Her passion for sport and feeling fit has lead her to support and empower women to take control of their fitness and to fully experience the freedom and enjoyment of being physically fit and feel good about themselves. Nicky’s programmes offer 1:1 performance coaching to live a fitter life as well as courses for women to gain confidence on the bike to either pedal for fun and recreation or step up into sportives and longer bike adventures. You can follow @nickyharverson on twitter as she takes on her own challenges and lives the life that she dreams of.