FitBits - fitness for fun and wellbeing: 2018


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Happy Bike Week! Why do the women of Brighton love to cycle?

FitBits | Bike Week 2018 - Tess Agnew This Girl Can Ambassador and fitness blogger

Scroll down for video 

YAY it's Bike Week! Time to celebrate all that's great about cycling (I know, as if I didn't do enough of that already). If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter you might realise that actually, for me, practically every week is Bike Week. For as long as I can remember I've loved to ride my bike. 

My childhood was filled with brightly coloured Universal BMXs (you know, the cool ones with the foam frame guards), and through college and uni I gained a mate's BMX, an old Peugeot racer and bright pink Chopper. Now, my much loved mountain bikes and roadie take pride of place in our flat (never, ever outside!), and take me on all sorts of wheely adventures from Brighton and Sussex to Wales, Scotland and beyond. I wanna take the bikes abroad this year, starting with the road bike. It's an alien world to me and I don't know the first thing about travelling with a bike, so any tips on how to get / pack a bike box, where to fly to and good places to ride are much appreciated! 

For me, cycling brings me a world of joy - just as much joy as it did when I was a kid. It takes me right back to my childhood, razzing around the woods at the pump track on my BMX, riding round and round the block as fast as I could go, racing other kids and slowing only when my legs were burning and my lungs could take no more. Doing three paper rounds before school so I could ride my BMX on clear, 6am roads, or leaving it right to the last minute to ride home from town in time for my curfew, just to see how fast I could do it.

FitBits | Bike Week 2018 - Tess Agnew This Girl Can Ambassador and fitness blogger

Nowadays, I still chase that lung burn, but most of my cycling is done for fun and wellbeing. It literally feeds my soul, and tops me up with happy. I love nothing more than being outside on the wheels, whether that's getting around town, commuting, on a long ride across the Downs or hitting the trails locally or in Wales. In fact Wales is my playground, and I wish it was nearer. If you're looking for some incredible mountain biking, Wales is your place. Read my write up of the mountain bike trail centres in Wales that I've been to so far. 

The most beautiful place I've ever ridden my bike is Scotland, my happy place. Not because the actual riding we did was the best - it was far from flowy in places - but because of the magnificent scenery. And I mean magnificent. That trip totally blew my mind. You can read about it here if you fancy a bit of Scotland porn. 

I love how challenging cycling can be, whether it's cranking up the gears and pushing hard on the road for the commute home (gonna get QOM on that Strava segment one day, I can feel it), or digging deep on a climb to get to the reward of the descent just that little bit quicker. I love scaring the shit out of myself down some flowy, rocky singletrack, but equally I love riding past queuing traffic knowing I'm gonna get there quicker, and I love that I can be anywhere I want in Brighton within 10mins on the bike. 

FitBits | Bike Week 2018 - Tess Agnew This Girl Can Ambassador and fitness blogger
The first time I reached the top of Ditchling Beacon :) 

I have to say actually, one thing I miss since becoming self employed is my mini daily commute. Even though it was just 2/3 miles each way to Hove I had my 30mins of cycling each day to wake up and wind down for a day in the office. Now that I work from home, in cafes and my amazing co-working space just 10mins away, I don't need to commute every day, and I miss the routine. I think I'm gonna have to sort that out with a 'commute' home maybe... ride to F45 or the gym, then go for a little spin before coming back home to shower and start work? 

Anyway, enough about my love afair with my bikes - we'll get a room, don't worry... 

What do the women of Brighton love about cycling? 

As it's Bike Week, I wanted to find out whether the women of Brighton love cycling as much as I do too, and what keeps them coming back for the ride. According to Sport England's 2015/16 Active Lives Survey, Sussex has a higher proportion of people who cycle regularly (14.7%) than the national average, with Brighton (18.7%) and Chichester (23.6%) topping the table. Brighton doesn't come as a surprise to me - we're actually very set up for cycling here, I think. Lots of well maintained cycle lanes, stretching all along the seafront and to Stanmer Park and Hove if you go the right way. 

In the mornings the seafront cycle lanes are heaving with all sorts of bikes, it makes me happy to know that I can get to Worthing 80% off the road if I want to.  

FitBits | Bike Week 2018 - Tess Agnew This Girl Can Ambassador and fitness blogger

To celebrate Bike Week and find out what the women of Brighton love about cycling, I set out for a ride around the city with the GoPro in hand. I spoke to women of all ages and abilities with all sorts of bikes. The answers are inspiring and confirmed everything I already knew about this wonderful sport. Seeing them get all giddy when they spoke about how it evokes childhood memories, brings them joy and makes them feel free reminded me of exactly why I love to ride. The fact that it also saves them money, keeps them fit and helps them get around the city nice and easy is a happy side effect. 

THIS, is why we ride....

What's next? 
I've got a big few months on the bikes planned so read about my summer cycling goals, including my first century ride at Velo South, and longest XC ride at the BHF South East Coast next month. And if you're still hungry for more, catch up on other bike-shaped blogs below: 


Visit This Girl Can and Active Sussex to find out more about cycling in Sussex, and check out Bike Week UK and Love to Ride Brighton to log your rides.

What do you love about cycling? 

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Strong is not a size - and my thighs are fine, thank you

FitBits | Strong is not a size - Women In Sport, British Weightlifting, This Girl Can - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Last night on the way to get picked up for hockey practice something horrible happened to me. If this was a few years' earlier, before I discovered exercise and had zero body confidence, it might've reduced me to tears.

If this was when I was at primary school, when kids used to call me 'fat bitch' for being a bit podgy, I would've cried and cried and cried.

If this was in secondary school and college, when I was still horrifically self conscious and used to wear big baggy hoodies and jeans in the height of summer so no one would see my thighs and my belly, then yes, I might've balled my eyes out. I used to hang out with my friends with jumpers and cushions over my belly when sat down because I couldn't bear for them to see my rolls. I made sure I constantly breathed in hard whenever I was standing up so I looked slimmer. I spent my summers ridiculously hot, uncomfortable and sweating like a pig because I didn't have the confidence to wear what everyone else was wearing. I hated my feet so much I didn't have a pair of sandals my 26th birthday when Chris bought me some lovely Birkenstocks. They lasted 5 years, he bought me my second pair this year and I love them just as much.

If this was just after I finished uni, when I was recovering from Goodpastures disease (nothing good about that one, I can assure you), and I'd put on nearly two stone from water retention, steroids and the cocktail of drugs I was on, I would've 100% cried right there in the street, and probably never stopped.

You're probably wondering wtf actually happened, right? Come on Tess - spit it out! Well it might not seem so bad now, saying it out loud, writing it sat here in this lovely cafe, no cushion on my belly and rolls on full show...

A couple of lads leant out their car and shouted:
"Put them away, skank!" 

They said something else too but I couldn't hear as they drove off. Initially I looked around to see who they were shouting at as I'm actually pretty happy with the way my body feels and looks right now because of all the weightlifting and hiit training I'm doing. I realised they were definitely talking to me because there were no other cars on the road and I was the only pedestrian. Walking to my team mate's car, in my shorts, t shirt, shin pads and hockey socks, minding my own business. Off for my second exercise session of the day, actually, but whatever. I'll put them away, shall I?

Now let me just say this right here, right now - THIS IS NOT OK. 

It's happened before, when I got back from a very hot and humid Bestival, wearing my festival shorts. These ones were high waisted and very high on the thigh. There were jiggly bits all over the place but for ONCE my thighs didn't rub together that much as I'd discovered the joy of bootcamp not long before so was actually at my slimmest.

We parked the car after the long drive home, and I walked straight up the shop for milk in my festival shorts. I did actively consider whether to get changed as this was now 'real life' and I surely the real world wasn't ready for these thighs just yet? I considered it, but not for long. I wanted a cup of tea and a shower, so I was brave, and walked up the shops in my shorts. I don't know whether it was the post-festival blues or the aggressive nature in which she said it (that's right, this time it was a she) - "eeeeeerrrr look at the state of those, put them away, fuck sake" - but the tears did come this time, along with the lump in throat, and as I power walked my offensive legs faster towards the shop I vowed never to subject the world to them ever again.

Again - THIS IS NOT OK. 

What gives someone, male or female, the right to shout about the way another person looks? What is it about my thighs that is so offensive to the human eye? Why did those lads feel the need to stick their heads out of the window to say anything at all, couldn't they have just kept the thought to themselves? And the girl after Bestival, she was actually pissed off her face and looking for a fight, but that doesn't matter, it still cut deep.

Words are powerful. But so are these thighs. 

FitBits | Strong is not a size - Women In Sport, British Weightlifting, This Girl Can - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
These thighs can probably squat those guys' bodyweight, and then both of them combined, given time. (I'm on 3x 12 65kg so assume my 1max rep would be higher than that)

These thighs can leg press 150kg for 3x 12, and box jump the red box (for the first time today - YAY)

These thighs can run marathons (not right now, mind, but they have done!)

These thighs have finished triathlons, carried me up mountains, cycled up multiple hills and beaten all the boys.

These thighs have brought me the greatest PBs I could ever dream of, and made me feel invincible after running faster than ever before.

These thighs have played new sports like hockey, and skateboarding, and trampolining, and rugby FFS.That's a point actually - these thighs played rugby for not just Sussex but South East England U18s before I went to uni thank you very much. 

FitBits | Strong is not a size - Women In Sport, British Weightlifting, This Girl Can - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

These thighs don't need permission to get air time. They don't need validation from anyone, and they definitely don't need me wasting any more of my time worrying about what other people think of them.

They're coming out to play, and so is the rest of me, and if you've got something to say, lads shouting out of car windows, let's go down the gym and I'll show you what they can do. You can show me what yours can do too, and then I'll pick you up and squat you.

Strong is not a size

FitBits | Strong is not a size - Women In Sport, British Weightlifting, This Girl Can - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

And like a sign from above, today is the launch of Women In Sport and British Weightlifting's campaign to encourage more women to lift weights - #StrongIsNotaSize, supported by This Girl Can (catch up on my escapades as a This Girl Can Ambassador here). I've been waiting for this to launch and tbh it couldn't have happened on a better day because after yesterday it's reminded me of exactly why we need more women in the weights area.

We need more women to experience the strength it brings, not just physical but emotional and mental. The confidence that comes with switching the focus of what your body can do, instead of how it looks. The freedom from self doubt and embarrassment. The empowerment of strength and sass all rolled into one, lording it round the weights area, sweat dripping from your red face, fitting in with the 'big boys'.

FitBits | Strong is not a size - Women In Sport British Weightlifting - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Looking in the mirror and liking what you see, not because it looks good but because it feels good first. The changing body shape that comes with the fat loss and increased muscle definition is a happy side effect. It's the endorphins I do it for. I'm only ever here for the endorphins. And the confidence it brings me. The fire in my belly that I feed off all day as I bounce out of the gym after a great PT or solo session.

The power of being able to walk down the road in shorts or whatever the hell I like, and for once, not give a damn about what anyone thinks of me. That's priceless, that is.

That's My Strong. What's yours?

Get involved with #StrongIsNotASize by sharing your photos and stories on social, tagging Women In Sport, British Weightlifting and This Girl Can. 


What does Strong mean to you?

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Saturday, 26 May 2018

My summer cycling goals

I started to write this to cover all of my fitness training goals for the summer but soon realised most of it is about cycling (my babe) so kept the other bits out for another post.

I've got lots going on at the moment, including a VERY exciting partnership that I'm so grateful for and can't wait to share with you! As ever, it's gonna be a big summer on the bikes, with a couple of big events lined up and some other trips and training in the calendar.

The longer winter and freak snow in March put a stop to our usual Wales trips to see in the spring, but we did finally make it over this month which has filled my heart with all kinds of happy. Last weekend we went on an epic Wales adventure with Sean from Marmalade MTB where we took on W2 at Afan and then rode a stunning natural trail called The Gap in the Brecon Beacons. It didn't rain AT ALL and was sunny the whole time which made it even more perfect. I'll do a proper write up of this and edit the video soon so stay tuned, but for now, here's a pic that sums up the weekend:

FitBits | The Gap ride - mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Btw, subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to keep up to date with my vlogs). 

So what's coming up this summer then?

Bike Park Wales coaching 

Even though I've been mountain biking for a few years now I could 100% do with some proper coaching. There's always something to learn to improve and I know for a fact there's about 20million things I want to progress on to make my rides flow better and to a certain extent, safer. 

Things like: learning how to do drops, better cornering, looking after my flow on the trail, perfecting the manual, getting better at technical climbing and off camber rock gardens, wheelies (mainly so I can get involved in #wheeliewednesday on Insta). Jumps? Mayyyyyyyyybe, once I've got the above bits down. I'd like to have the balls to get into Enduro so need to be confident on steeper, more technical sections and coaching is a great place to start. 

Chris got us places on the Drop Zone coaching course for Christmas which we haven't yet spent as had to reschedule due to the snow in March. I'm toying with the idea of topping up the voucher for a one-to-one session for me and Chris so we get to focus on exactly what we want. 

Anyone done these before and got any tips/thoughts?


Another Christmas present we haven't got round to spending yet is a day at the Lee Valley Velodrome, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. When I was invited up to British Cycling HQ for the National Track Championships at the beginning of the year it was the first time I'd seen a track in real life, and I can't wait to try it out for myself! I bought Chris a Track Taster voucher for Christmas and need to get myself one too so we can see what it's like. 

More info on the voucher on the Lee Valley website

BHF South East Coast | 29.7.18

A couple of years ago me and Chris did the BHF London to Brighton off road ride and loved it (watch the video above). It was our first mtb event and the first big ride since doing my collarbone in a few months before. This year, L2B falls on the Saturday of the same weekend as another event we're doing and I'm not hard enough to do the double (or am I?!) so instead we're having a go at BHF's new off road event, the South East Coast.

There are three distances to choose from (20, 38 and 55miles) and we're taking on the 55. According to the website we can expect 'picturesque coastal scenes, adrenaline pumping forest trails and epic cliffs to climb showcasing the best of East Sussex'.

Have some of that!

Find out more on the BHF Event website.  

Coed Y Brenin Women's Weekend | 8.9.18

I've already saved the date for the second Coed Y Brenin Women's Weekend after last year's epic event. I drove up to North Wales on my tod (my longest solo drive ever 😊 ) to join about 40 badass mtb women for a weekend of riding, coaching, yoga, films and fun. It bucketed it down the WHOLE TIME and I lost one of my brand new flat pedal shoes at the campsite (who steals one shoe?!) but I still had the best time, and got to meet Tracy Moseley to get some training tips (you can read these in my article on Total Women's Cycling). 

And if you're interested in the Coed Y Brenin Women's Weekend, read my write up of last year's event and register interest for this September here

See you there?

Velo South | 23.9.18

100 miles on closed, rolling West Sussex roads with 1500m of climbing. Oh HELLO 😍.

This will be my first century ride, (I wasted my ballot RideLondon place last year as didn't train enough - bad Tess), and it's practically on my doorstep which is mega. I'm very lucky to live where I do, we've got everything we need within spitting distance of Brighton - 100 miles of gorgeous South Downs, beautiful rolling country roads, rugged clifftops and miles of beach. It's a cyclist's dream.

I've not really ventured out for any rides longer than 35miles on the new Liv roadie just yet so looking forward to seeing how I get on in September.

Did anyone else manage to grab a place before they sold out?

Find out more about Velo South on their website

So yeah, a fun-packed summer on the wheels for me :) Maybe I'll see you at one of these events?


What are your fitness goals for the summer?

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

RACE REVIEW & VIDEO | Wolf Run, Pippingford Park

Spring Wolf Run review - Pippingford Park, East Sussex - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

Scroll down for video

Where do I start with this one? The crazed, joyous cackle of a mud-soaked Tess leaping into boggy swamps? The scared, hyperventilating Tess flapping across a lake on her back trying not to drown? (5:44 onwards in the below video if you're interested). Or the screaming, crampy calf that decided to go on the VERY LAST OBSTACLE, mere metres from the finish line? (Didn't record that unfortunately, maybe for the best...)

It's been a long time since I've ran an obstacle race, and I forgot just how much fun they are. If you're a regular follower of this blog, you'll know I'm a sucker for finding the fun in fitness - and let me tell you, the Wolf Run did not disappoint!

So much mud. So many hills. So much FUN. With a bit of swearing along the way (this was the end of April and after the extended winter we had, I can assure you, those lakes were COLD).

Teamwork makes the dream work 

FitBits | Spring Wolf Run Pippingford Park review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

There's something about OCRs that gives me all the feels. I think it's the camaraderie and team aspect of it, everyone in it together, helping each other over the obstacles to the finish. Everyone smiling and laughing their way around the course, (apart from my occasional panic where deep water or heights were involved).

On April 28 I gathered my Wolf Run team and headed to Pippingford Park for the 10k race. My wolves: Chris, my tree surgeon husband (who leapt his way round the course like Tarzan on speed), and two lovely boxer friends Carla and Darren.

I'm not gonna lie, I was about as prepared for this as I was for the BM10K - i.e. not at all. Don't try this at home, kids. With zero running under my belt over the past few weeks, but lots of weight training with my PT and HIIT at F45 (will blog that soon, promise), I was interested to see if I would get round in one piece.

The answer is, well... sort of. With a little help from my friends!

An impromptu massage

The course itself was stunning actually. If you like the lung-busting, leg-burning feels you get when  trail running you'll love Pippingford Park. LOTS of very steep ups and slippy, slidy downs, stodgy, muddy hills and forests to run through, and plenty of water to swim/flap/panic your way through (delete as appropriate).

It's a perfect location for an obstacle race, although if I did it again I would 100% do a bit of actual running in the lead up as those hills were MEGA. I thought it would be my knees that would be a problem but they were fine - it was my calves that took a right good thrashing going in and out of the freezing cold water!

FitBits | Spring Wolf Run Pippingford Park review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I've never had my muscles cramp on me mid-race. Have you? It's really weird. It creeps up on you, with little twinges that turn into big, convulsing spasms. I realise now that these are the warning spasms of muscles saying 'hey, I don't like this, if you don't stop what you're doing, in a bit I'm gonna go batshit crazy and you won't be able to move.'

My calf decided that right on the very last obstacle, while I was climbing to the top, mere metres from the much-anticipated finish line, would be a great place to do that. I had to slide back down the ramp holding onto the rope and get two lovely marshals to massage my muddy, bruised and beaten legs. It was an intimate moment punctured only by my swearing and ominous 'aaaah's and 'ooooh's as other runners passed us. I thought I filmed the whole thing but didn't in the end so I'll spare you the footage.

FitBits | Spring Wolf Run Pippingford Park review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

I haven't looked at what time we finished because it doesn't matter and it wasn't about a time, but I know it slowed partially due to me hobbling the last mile or so with my calf and various struggles / meltdowns along the way at the big scary wet stuff called water. I need to get back in there and show myself I can swim again.

This girl can't... but she'll have a good try

There were two full swims along the course - one 50m and one 75m, across VERY COLD and muddy lakes. The first one was preceded by a massive water slide which sounds like fun but not if your name's Tess so this was about 8/10 for fear factor! I did it though, mainly because there was a queue of people behind me waiting to go and I didn't have long to think about it.

Just when I entered the cold water the shock came and that was it - couldn't breathe, couldn't touch the floor (short person problems), couldn't do anything except flap at the lovely kayaker to come and save my life while the others swam to the other side.

The second swim was entered in a much calmer way, by lowering ourselves into the lake. I felt I could do it this time but only if on my back so that's what I did. Thank the bloody lord for the helpful marshals who promised to look out for me and my teammate Carla who swam beside me calming me down as I panicked my way across.

I cannot tell you how scary it was about half way across when all I could think about was how far out we were, how deep we were, how far away the kayaker now might be, how I can't swim in my shoes, how heavy my kit is, how much the GoPro is slipping off my head, how long it's taking to get to the other side, how I still can't catch my breath - you get the idea.

Longest 75m EVER. But the feeling at the other end - AMAZING!

But despite the fear on some of the obstacles, the cramp and pain at various points in the race, The Wolf Run was basically just one big laugh and I'd 100% do it again. I want to do it again just to do that first swim and also that first high climbing frame.

The race village was really well stocked, including some low calorie beer, along with other food stalls, changing areas and a feck load of power hoses to jet wash ourselves down with after! There was also a bouncy castle and face painting for kids which was great as we had our very own cheerleader join us for the day.

If you fancy a laugh check out my GoPro video below and let me know what you think! Also, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel as I'm making a lot more of these now :) 

For more information on the Wolf Run and to take on the ‘Autumn Wolf’ back at Pippingford Park on 29/30th September, visit -

*I was given complimentary places for my team in exchange for writing this review / making the video :) 

Have you ever done an obstacle race? 
Any tips?

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Saturday, 5 May 2018

7 ways to get into mountain biking

There's a special kind of freedom that comes with being on two wheels in a wide open expanse of green. A special type of joy that comes with throwing your bike down a fast, flowy piece of singletrack. A lovely dose of adrenalin when you conquer that scary drop or rooty section that's been terrorising you for months. And a lung-busting sense of pride when you reach the top of that bloody great big hill you've been dreading on your ride.

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE mountain biking, and cycling in general. It's a love that's burned inside of me since I first got on one as a kid (thanks Dad), razzing my BMX around the pump track and in the woods, being late home for dinner for just one more ride.

Even when I broke my leg showing off to my mates at seven years old, I got back on the bike. When I broke my collarbone and wrist in 2016 pumping too hard and getting air before remembering I can't jump, I got back on the bike. (Scared AF but back on it nonetheless).

This is my calling, and I want you to join me.

International Women's Mountain Biking Day! 

Today is the inaugural International Women's Mountain Biking Day! (Thanks Mara for the tag on Insta!) Created by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), IWMBD is to be held on the first Saturday of May each year starting this year, and is a celebration of all things mountain biking for women.

It's a PERFECT day to celebrate for a number of reasons: 1) it's the start of a Bank Holiday weekend, 2) it's BLOODY SUNNY GUYS, GET ON YOUR BIKES, and 3) IT'S BLOODY SUNNY GUYS, GET ON YOUR BIKES!!!

If you're looking for inspiration to get into mountain biking, I've shared some resources and a few of my posts below, and you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook over the weekend where I'll be sharing my mountain bike adventures with you. Also don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel as I share more of my bike-shaped shenanegins over there too!

If you do get out on your bike today, share your stories using #womensmtbday and don't forget to tag me so I can join the conversation!

How to get into mountain biking 


1. Join a Breeze ride 

For those not in the know, Breeze is a fantastic initiative from British Cycling and Sport England to encourage more women on wheels. There are hundreds of rides across the country led by qualified leaders (Breeze Champions), aimed at all levels from beginner to experienced. These women-only groups offer an inclusive, welcoming and fun group to ride with, where you'll learn new skills, meet new friends and eat a lot of cake whilst building your confidence on the bike.

They do road and mountain bike rides, check the Let's Ride website to find your local one, and read this Beginner's Guide to Mountain Biking from British Cycling. 

**Watch a video of my first Breeze ride here - it's a road ride, but the group ethos is the same**

2. Find a mountain bike guide


The best way to discover new routes and places to ride is by getting someone to show you. That's what we did for our first taste of the glorious Surrey Hills singletrack mecca last year. We'd heard there were trails nearby to us in Brighton but we didn't know where to start to find them, so we found Sean from Marmalade MTB and got him to show us. 

Throughout year he does weekly guided rides to the Surrey Hills, South Downs and beyond to Wales, Isle of Wight and even Scotland, taking groups of upto eight of all abilities. If you're riding the Surrey Hills and don't have a bike, you can hire one from Pedal and Spoke at Peaslake, and he can also arrange hire for other locations too. 

Check my blog of our first ride with Sean and visit his website at

3. Visit a trail centre

Ooooooooh yesssss I LOVE a good mountain bike trail centre!! These are the playgrounds of my adulthood. The places I get my kicks, where I whooop, woooooo and weeeeeeeeee! my way down the lovely purpose-built, fast and flowy trails before collapsing in a pile of happy at the trail centre cafe.

This is how I got into trail riding and riding singletrack, and this is where I'm at my happiest on a bike. There are trail centres all over the UK with trails graded from green (easy, family friendly) to black (gnarly, not-Tess-friendly at present!). I ride blues (fast flowy, fun) and reds (fast, flowy, more technical with rocky sections and roots).

I wrote a whole blog about the AWESOME trail centres in Wales that you can read here

4. Join a women's weekend! 

There's no getting away from the fact that mountain biking is still very much a sport dominated by men, BUT times are changing girls! More and more women are riding off road and a great way to find other badass women to ride with is by going on a women's mountain biking weekend!

I did this last September at Coed Y Brenin (an awesome trail centre in North Wales) and had the BEST weekend. It rained the whole bloody time but it was such a laugh and filled my heart with happy to see so many women on the trails. We outnumbered the blokes that weekend and gave them a run for their money on the trails too!

Read what we got up to here and don't forget to sign up to this year's event on 8/9 September!  

5. Follow a National Cycling Route

Thanks to Sustrans, the National Cycle Network is a huge network of cycle-friendly routes on traffic-free paths and quiet roads connecting to every major town and city. They're signposted by blue and white signs along the way and are sure to lead you to cycling joy :)

There are some cracking off road routes like The Downs Link, connecting Surrey and Shoreham along a disused railway line. (Note, railway line means flat, which is lovely).

Enter your postcode or town on the Sustrans map to find your nearest route.

6. Get up on the Downs

I realise this only works if you're down this way but the South Downs is right on my doorstep here in Brighton and the South Downs Way stretches 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne with some proper good climbs and gorgeous mountain bike heaven to ride.

Just follow the public bridleway signs with the acorns (not the footpaths or other bridleways) and enjoy the ride!

I've ridden sections of it numerous times, you can catch up with my posts below:

Winchester to Petersfield - my PlusBike Day Out

Birthday bike ride from Brighton to Eastbourne 

Petersfield to Amberley

Amberley to Devil's Dyke

Eastbourne to Brighton

7. Join an event 

Another great way to get into mountain biking is to join an event. I rode the BHF London to Brighton a couple of years ago and LOVED it (as the shaky video above proves - this was my first time using a GoPro, I've got a lot better since then! Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see more vids) 

This event was fully supported with amazing fuel and water stations along the way, as well as first aid tents and break areas etc. so it was great to know we were really being looked after (and raising money for charity too!) 

This July me and Chris are taking on the new BHF South East Coast ride, attempting the 55 mile route across the South Downs which will be a right good challenge with those insane climbs! 

So there you have it. Plenty of ways to get into mountain biking! I know I keep banging on about the joys of cycling but there really is no other way to feel that magic you did as a kid again, that freedom, that JOY.  Get on your bike!

Share your mtb stories on social media using #womensmtbday (and don't forget to tag me at @FitBits_ on Twitter and Insta, and @fitbitsblog on Facebook!) 


Tell me what makes your heart sing like cycling does to mine?  :)

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Sunday, 29 April 2018


Brighton Marathon Weekend - BM10k review 2018 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger 

OK so this is a bit late, so sorry if you don't care any more.

Lots of exciting stuff has kept me from getting this BM10k review and video edited and published -  stuff like my latest blog on The Body Coach (YAY!), and another couple of big deadlines for exciting freelance clients. Oh yeah, and my birthday. I'm thirty-bloody-two now guys. What's all that about?! I'm totally living my best life right now, happiest I've ever been which is ace, but still feel every now and then like a real adult should come and tell me what to do. Do you get that?

So yeah, after a loooooong month of deadlines deadlines deadlines, today's the day where I finally get to treat myself to some proper blog time. And it *is* a real treat, you know 😊

BM10k - all the fun without the pain

Brighton Marathon Weekend - BM10k review 2018 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

The 2018 BM10k. Another year where I couldn't be bothered to do the full marathon, but didn't want to miss out on the epic atmosphere of Brighton Marathon Weekend. In case you're wondering why I cba to do the full marathon again just yet, you can watch the hottest, hardest marathon of my life here.

Over 12,500 people descended on my beautiful, brilliant hometown for this year's BM10k and Brighton Marathon, both of which were started by the legend that is Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, founder of parkrun. Surprisingly, it was my first year of taking on the 10k so I was looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere and skipping the pain. Getting all the good bits of the day - ace crowd support, nice, mostly flat route, great race village and medal - without the black toenails and crises of confidence at mile 20-26.

Brighton Marathon Weekend - BM10k review 2018 - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
Nabbed another photo with our mate Norman :) 

I signed up to the 10k with passive plans to go for a PB but life and work got in the way and I ended up doing ZERO training, which was of course an excellent idea all round. I've been doing lots of strength training with my ace PT (read about that here), and getting my HIIT fix at the brilliant F45 studio in Brighton (more on that later), but running-wise just couldn't didn't get much in at all, apart from a couple of token treadmill efforts and a plod around the park.

So come race day I was very nervous about actually being able to complete the full 10k course. Turns out - I can run 10k on no training... but it does hurt afterwards! After the race both of my feet hurt, which must've been a hangover from when I injured myself running 10 miles on concrete after only training on trail before Brighton Half. It calmed down in a couple of days this time so wasn't half as bad, but it's clear there's definitely a problem there now. Or is it that I should just actually TRAIN PROPERLY for these things instead of just going out and doing it anyway? Who knows. Do as I say kids, not as I do. 💁

Anyway, that's quite enough of me banging on - here's the video of a brilliant BM10k where I bumped into lots of my running buddies (and a lovely reader of this blog who was a marathon pacer - if you're reading this, you made my day, thank you!x)

Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay up to date with upcoming vlogs.

Entries are open for Brighton Marathon Weekend 2019 (marathon and 10k) - go go go! 

*I was given two free places in exchange for writing this blog and making the video :) 


Have you been part of the Brighton Marathon Weekend before?

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Monday, 9 April 2018

REVIEW | MAMIL the film

FitBits | MAMIL the film review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

When the cinema is full you know it's gonna be a good one. When the people in that cinema join you in laughing at all the right places, and come together in a collective applause as you leave, you go home, get on the blog and tell everyone about it immediately, even though you've got 6am PT the next morning. Edit, made it!

MAMIL. Funny, warm, and moving. Relatable on so many levels. If you know, you know.

Middle Aged Men in Lycra, for those not in the know, is a film written by Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe, and narrated by Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett, about what makes men turn to the bike at a certain age. Midlife crisis? Health scare? To support a friend fighting cancer? Or simply to stay alive.

FitBits | MAMIL the film review - Tess Agnew fitness bloggerThe film follows a few groups through their various love affairs with the wheels. The Fat Boys cycling club from Adelaide and their blossoming bromance that stretches far beyond the time spent actually out on the bikes. A christian cycling club and how they see their rides as a form of worship and way to connect with God.

A man and his best friend, now free from cancer, who inspired him to ride to raise money for cancer. A high flying barrister who clung to cycling after a relationship breakdown and who has now lost a part of his soul to the bike and everything that comes with it, travelling the world to take on the toughest climbs in honour of his heroes. Or the journalist who took up cycling to combat MS.

It's an irreverent celebration of all that the bike brings to us:
FREEDOM - and joy in its purest form. A hark back to our childhoods, where we could jump on the wheels to go anywhere,  and do anything we liked. 

FRIENDS - the communities we're part of, in person and online. The people we ride with, our clubs, our groups, our friends - these are the people who keep us out there, even when we really don't want to or when life gets tough. 

FITNESS - of course it brings us fitness, makes us push ourselves, achieve things we never thought possible. Climbing hills we've always dreamed of, riding distances we've heard others talk of. Getting faster, stronger, better with every revolution of the pedal. 

FUN - because, really, is there anything more enjoyable than riding your bike as fast or as far as you can, with your favourite people? Not really. 

FitBits | MAMIL the film review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger

One line that got a laugh was when one of the riders was mountain biking: "When you're descending, go fast enough to kill yourself."   I can relate to that, and unfortunately learnt my lesson when I decided to throw myself off my bike and break my collarbone and wrist in 2016. It's a lesson I'm still learning as I get throat punched by the new-found fear when I least expect it.

And this line really got me:
"It makes you want to believe in something other than your legs."

They're right, you know. There really is nothing like the feeling you get when you're totally in flow on a bike. Like the runner's high, only faster.

This film isn't so much about the actual bikes (although of course it does talk about how much they all spend on them and me and Chris got serious shed envy more than once). It's about the mental health and wellbeing benefits that cycling brings to us all. Not just MAMILS. The underrepresented MAFILS(?) too? (PS. you might've seen my mug in a Huff Post article about this last week).

One thing it did make me do though, was want to ride my bike!

FitBits | MAMIL the film review - Tess Agnew fitness blogger
True story.

Find out more about MAMIL on the official website

And if you love cycling,  I'd love you to subscribe to my YouTube channel as I'm making lots more vlogs in the coming months! 


What do you love about cycling?

Follow me:

Subscribe by email

* indicates required

Blog design by KotrynaBassDesign