If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.¬†

Pre-baby, Strava was a key feature in my cycling. It was a huge motivator for me and we definitely lived by the rule “if it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen”. 

In fact, on attempting Buttertubs Pass, I realised that I hadn’t restarted my Garmin and I went back to the bottom and started again. And on the return from rides uploading my ride was priority over shower, bike cleaning, eating… Even if I was half conscious on the floor, through effort, my computer was down there with me. 

And once I’d upgraded my Garmin, it was linked to my phone and rides uploaded themselves.

But, as with many aspects of life, it’s been all change. Yesterday I went for a ride (more of a commute actually) and I tried quite hard, but it’s yet to find its way on to Strava. I changed phone, and there’s not been the time to set up the connection. 

My previous ride took over a week to upload! And on occasion, I’ve been so excited to go out that I’ve either forgotten my Garmin or forgotten to press start! 

The majority of my rides now either don’t happen, or ‘didn’t happen’!! 

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Jeans

This week I tried to get into some pre-pregnancy jeans.

I think I might have tried them on a couple of weeks post-partum, at which point they didn’t fit and I shouldn’t have expected them to.

Now though, they fit perfectly.

“Brilliant!” you might think. “Welldone” you might say; in fact some did.

But, this is bittersweet, because while it is nice that my waist has returned to normal, my leg muscles have not. 16 months ago these jeans did not fit, because for a short time, I was quite fit and had leg muscles, which meant I grew out of my jeans!

Oh well, at least I don’t need to buy a new pair of jeans. ūüėĀ

 

A new challenge for 2017

I began this blog in 2014 when I was new to cycling, and I was preparing to do the London-Surrey 100. I had been entered into the event by my brother, and had previously not ridden very far at all. The thought of cycling 100 miles seemed crazy – ¬†I’d seriously think twice about a car journey of 100 miles. But I did the event, and then I did it again in 2015. With resevations about the way London-Surrey is run, Ollie and I looked for a new challenge in 2016 – and so we cycled 200 miles doing Vatternrundan in Sweden. After Vatterundan I barely cycled, I was pregnant and renovating a house, I didn’t have the time or the inclination. But now, with a baby in tow, I am back on my bike and my brother thinks I should be doing a new event!
He has kindly recognised that I will have far few hours in the saddle this year, and thus thinks I should concentrate on hill climbing, and that I should enter in the to Walbury Hill Climb!
Ollie and I had discussed the fact that we wouldn’t be able to do endurance cycling anymore, so I had decided I would just try to get faster, you see hills and I don’t really get on!
Have you ever heard of a cyclist who is atrocious at getting up hills, and terrified of going down them? Well, that is me. Though, in my defence, I have only ever got off and given up on one hill, and one (or two?) mountain in the last 3 years of cycling. Have you¬†tried to get up Bushcombe Lane in Gloucestershire?!? (It is truely evil! There is one corner, which is¬†so¬†difficult – I ended up in the verge twice just trying to get up it). And the mountain/s was purely down to the heat – I don’t fare well in excessive heat.
It is true that we have a nice steep hill right on our doorstep, and that I could do hill reps, and I have in fact been up it since I started back at cycling; I think if there had been any, then walkers would have overtaken me! A runner felt so sorry for me that he¬†took the time to shout “You’re doing well!”.
No, hills and I don’t get on.
I think for 2017, my challenge will simply be bringing up the future winner of the Tour De France, in a way which keeps him happy (or at least not wailing).

Seb’s head coach

Some of you may have noticed the following comment on one of my previous posts:

I feel it is my duty to suggest your next event.
Lavington Hill right on your door step ideal for training, far fewer hours in saddle required practising for a ~6 minute effort.
You’re welcome.
The comment was written by ‘Seb’s head coach’. You might be wondering “Who on earth is Seb?” and on finding out he’s our 12 week old son you might think “Why does he need a head coach?” and… “Who is this coach?”
Well, there’s no need for Ollie and I to be pushy parents, because he’s got his uncle (A.K.A Seb’s Head Coach) for that!
On hearing of Sebastian’s¬†birth, my brother sent him a training plan to faciliate¬†him in “turning pro by the age of 20”, “winning his first monument at 24” and a “grand tour or major stage race win by his mid 20s”.
So without giving too much away to his 12 week old competitors….his uncle is expecting him to be confident and competent with a balance bike by the age of 18 months. To have his first bicycle at 4 years and to do exercise five times a week.
But the plan doesn’t start at 12-18 months, oh no! The plan started at the age of 1 month, with exercises to do each day, except for Wednesday and Sunday- the days of rest!
One of the days is put aside for Yoga, which Sebastian has taken note of; he is beginning a Yoga class tomorrow!
He also has a balance bike and a bike with stabilisers just waiting for him to be (nearly) big enough.
So, watch this space, in 20 years time, it will be “Chris who?, Seb’s the man in Yellow!”
I’ll¬†address his actual comment in another post.

Back in the saddle

Last week and weekend my Grandad, Ollie and Myself got the turbo bike and the Ribble (and Ollie’s summer bike) back into a maintained condition. Working and clean, I was able to go on my first ride last weekend. We live on a long road which goes through several villages, so I rode to each end of our road – 10 miles. ¬†It was brilliant.

 

Today I went on my second ride, this time a 13 mile loop with some minor hills.

 

Whilst I was out, I was thinking about the things I missed, the things I hadn’t missed, and how things had changed.

 

What I missed:

  • My bike
  • The countryside
  • Exploring our new area
  • Wind (!)
  • Hills (!!)
  • Going fast
  • Competition
    • Someone came past me today, and it really made me speed up, despite me not having any chance of catching him up.
  • That tired ‘after exercise’ feeling
    • I’ve been exhausted for two months, but this feels different, and much better.

 

What I didn’t miss:

  • Cars
  • Drivers
  • Potholes
  • Always forgetting something and having to go back
    • ¬†On my first ride I had to unlock the house and outhouse in order to go back for my helmet. So annoying!

 

What’s new:¬†

  • Time Constraints
  • Scar tissue
  • Not fitting into some of¬†my kit
  • A new baseline of pretty much no muscle at all
    • I am almost certainly more unfit now, than when I first started cycling. It was really unclear as to how much weight I put on over the last 11 months; the figure on the scales wasn’t increasing much, and I assume that’s because I was losing muscle. So the scales couldn’t really tell me how much weight I had gained due to the pregnancy. So now, as I gain muscle, I expect to be the heaviest I’ve ever been,¬†alone¬†that is.
  • No cycling partner
    • Ol has to stay at home with the little one
    • We live miles away from everyone else now
    • I wouldn’t be able to keep up with anyone anyway
  • A reason to rush home

The kit which does fit is currently in the laundry in case I get an opportunity to go out again tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All change.

It’s been ten months since I wrote my last post!

After V√§tternrundan and my last post, I planned to take some time to decide what to write about next; but I didn’t intend to take quite this long. The weekend after¬†V√§tternrundan I thought I had found my new topic; cycling in pregnancy!

 

Yes, it turns out that I was cycling for two during those 200 miles.

 

However, cycling whilst pregnant is just too scary. There’s the ‘not getting too hot’, the ‘not raising your heart rate too high’ and then there’s the crazy drivers, the pot-holes and the cleats. All-in-all, I was too scared to ride.

 

We took our annual trip to France to see Le Tour, and I did some short rides and even climbed some hills but generally I left the cycling to the boys whilst I read books and chilled out.

 

My bike hasn’t been out since then.

 

I did some short turbo sessions – fairly pathetic efforts really. But time was also against us – our house renovation was taking longer than planned. So exercise time was limited.

 

We are now in our house (no it isn’t finished – I’m told that they never are) and we have our little boy. So, the next challenge is starting all over again and fitting it in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride London-Surrey vs. V√§tternrundan: a comparison

Motivation

The reason Ollie and I decided to look for a new challenge, and in doing so found Vätternrundan, was that we were unimpressed with the way London-Surrey Ride 100 (Prudential Ride 100) was organised.We felt that too many people were released onto the course at the same time, that many of these people were not regular cyclists, and that these two factors combined to make the course high risk. Finally, we were also unimpressed with the requirement to turn up mega early, to stand in pens (typically in the pouring rain) whilst slowly being herded towards the start line.

On the plus side, London-Surrey is a prestigious event, which we have been lucky to have a chance to do (for me, on more than one occasion), due to the fact that the roads are completely closed to traffic and participants can enjoy seeing London in a completely different light; a rare opportunity. It is also, just down the road, so it is accessible to us.

Conversely, V√§tternrundan is a 2000 mile round trip, it involves two ferry crossings and many, many hours of driving (or alternatively the purchase of a bike box, a flight reservation, and a hire car). It takes time and money¬†to get to. However…

We drove into Motala (the host town), we parked in a free, designated car park and took a free bus to centre of the activities. We flew through registration and despite not knowing the language, found everything we needed. We were allowed to cycle on the course to get to the start.

Start pens

The start pens were split into three (e.g. 2154/2156/2158), and our numbers told us if we were in the left, middle or right (though we could have worked it out for ourselves based on our start time). Once your time was showing you could enter the pen. I entered my pen at the very last minute (having been sat down and using the facilities, right up to the last minute), and that was not a problem at all.

The start pens, therefore, took up a very small amount of space, there was not a maze of pens leading into the one starting area (like London – groups orange, red, black, blue, times, group numbers… all converging on the¬†one start area, slowly…), participants could relax until their time came up… it was just so, so much better.

Participation

The two events allow the same amount of participants (around 26,000), the difference is that Vätternrundan release participants on to the course over a much longer period of time (from 1900-0700) and thus spread them out across the course.

Whilst I did see a couple of injuries, I didn’t see or hear about anywhere near as many accidents as in London, and I didn’t get held up at all due to anyone else’s actions.¬†V√§tternrundan does still have inexperienced riders on the course, but they didn’t cause an issue because everyone was so much more spread out, plus the length of the course probably does deter some individuals from applying. Lesser mileages are catered for in the weekend prior to the main event; with a half Vatternrundan and also a ladies event; so everyone gets a chance, lessening the risk. (I believe London may be introducing a shorter event, which is a good thing).

Food

London provide food stops, with the standard gels, bananas, sweets etc… pretty good but I generally only used them for the water. Thing is, I can carry sweets, gels and cereal bars in my pocket – what I need at certain distances is some savoury and some salt in there as well. And when I am cold and wet, I need somewhere dry and warm to shelter. V√§tternrundan provided two indoor stops with hot meals, which were very well received. Not only that, but they had also catered for gluten free and vegetarian (I expect others too), which seemed very modern and insightful.

Other traffic

London is closed roads. No other traffic other than emergency vehicles. No access for cyclists getting to the event. Just competitors.

V√§tternrundan is less strict; some roads are closed to traffic, some have a much lower speed limit than others, some they’ve transferred traffic to the other carriageway (making a dual carriageway into two single lanes) and some remain open. It worked, and I wonder whether the knowledge that the road does have other users added to the improved discipline of riders. It also meant we could get to the event without going massively out of our way. Our host in Motala, was troubled by the traffic hold-ups, but she could get through – had it of been London she would have just been denied access.

Cost 

Vatternrundan was almost double the cost of London.

For the money, London provides a e-mail and facebook comms, a magazine, posted instructions, food stations, a medal and a bag of goodies at the end. They also cage off pretty much the entire course.The course is open from the early hours until mid-afternoon. Whilst, Vätternrundan provides e-mail and facebook comms, food stations including two main meals, and a medal. They cage off the start and end of the course. The course is open for 24 hours.

So…

I wouldn’t do either again! I wouldn’t do London because I didn’t enjoy either attempt and I felt it was risky. I wouldn’t do V√§tternrundan again because it was a crazy thing to do and a once in a lifetime experience! It was challenging but fun, and there were waaay more opportunities to ride as a group and really help one another getting around.

In my opinion though, Vätternrundan was much more professionally run, much smoother, efficient and safer (but it has been running for much longer than London).