41 Days, 9 hours, 40 Minutes, 39 Seconds…

Yesterday was a bad day on the bike… I professed to hating cycling. I was forced to walk up a hill or two (not through lack of fitness), it was muddy, gritty, rainy and my energy levels were poor. Poor Ollie had to put up with my frustrated strop. My brother’s inspirational words of the day were:

Days like today give you an edge on the competition. Did you see any other cyclists? I didn’t see one

He has a point – “Morning” got boring and nodding the head got tiring this morning in the sunshine!

So…I have 41 days to regain my motivation and ability, something which really hit home this week, when I received an e-mail from London Prudential:

Confirmation of my start time

Confirmation of my start time

Receiving confirmation of my start time and having to book my travel seems all a bit too real, but on the plus side at least I won’t have to get up at 4 am and as a result of this e-mail I have planned my pre-event travel and have refined my plans for the Saturday. I will travel to London on the Saturday to take in the atmosphere! I have just signed up to take part in the Free Cycle, an eight-mile ride around central London’s closed roads, as a warm up for the main event.

So, this was just a short post really, but I would like to take the chance to thank Russell from 105.5 FM for running my story on his radio show (twice during the week and yesterday). I heard the re-run and it really wasn’t too bad! I hope that it grabbed the attention of the Swindon public and that they consider donating to Dressability. 

To finish, here are some of the professional pictures from the Runway Rumble: 


The peloton

The peloton

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Don’t [go] without a needle, thread and thimble


Last night I promised I would write about something else which I came across while looking up Bicycle Face. The list typed out clearly below was published and can be seen (less clearly) in Newspaper Oswego Palladium May-Aug 1895 – 0593.

Don’ts for women riders

Don’t be a fright. 

Don’t faint on the road.

Don’t wear a man’s cap.

Don’t wear tight garters.

Don’t forget your tool bag.

Don’t attempt a “century.” 

Don’t coast. It is dangerous.  (But fun!)

Don’t boast of your long rides.

Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”

Don’t wear loud hued leggings.

Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”

Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.

Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.

Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.

Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.

Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.

Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.

Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.

Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.

Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.

Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.

Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.

Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.

Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?

Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.

Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.

Don’t without a needle, thread and thimble.

Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”

Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.

Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.

Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.

Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.

Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.

Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labour.

Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.

Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”

Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.

Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel.

Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.

Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.

Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty. 

Read more at: Total Womens Cycling

Having read through each of these I believe that I only contravene 20, although admittedly there are several that I don’t understand (for instance does “Don’t be a fright” mean “Don’t go out looking ugly” or “Don’t be a wimp”?) and a few of them appear to be totally irrelevant to the modern day. I think that the simple act of writing this blog, violates at least four of the rules; 

  • Don’t boast about your long rides
  • Don’t use bicycle slang
  • Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know (what about female urinating devices?)
  • Don’t appear to be up on records and record smashing

I’ve highlighted, in bold, those statements which amused me or seemed particularly relevant and I am sure from reading previous posts you will understand why. But there is one point which really stands out to me, and that is “Don’t attempt a century”– oops, sorry chaps of the 19th century!

And finally, as crazy as it might seem, I am confident that I know of two ladies who do actually take their needle, thread and thimble with them on their bicycles! Liza and Mum both cycle to the Dressability office; they often take work home and have things which they then need to transport back into the office. 

Laura’s midnight message:  Stop fainting on the roads, and scaring the cows ladies – it’s not becoming.


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Bicycle Face

I’m in Glasgow. I don’t really want to be in Glasgow. 

It’s not that is not an interesting place, that there’s nothing to do, no-one to see… it’s more the fact that all of the things that I am interested in, that I want to do and that I want to see are down South. 

That’s not to say that Glasgow is an interesting place though; I did a Google search earlier to see whether there were any bike shops near-by and the results were less than pleasing, so it seems that Glasgow might not have all that much going for it after all. Plus, I found this on the headboard of my hotel bed…

Foreign body on headboard

Nasty Foreign body on headboard

Anyway, I travelled up this morning on the train. It took over 7 hours so I had some time to work, sleep, read Twitter etc… and it was while reading Twitter that I came across Bicycle Face. In the late 19th Century, with the invention of and the increasing popularity for the bicycle, an entirely fictional ailment was ‘invented’ and termed Bicycle Face. Primarily aimed at women, in an attempt to dissuade them from cycling, Bicycle Face was alleged to be caused by the excessive stress experienced while attempting to maintain ones balance on a bicycle. 

This led me to think about inventions, developments and the comparison with the modern day. With the invention and further refinement of the bicycle, ladies had a new found freedom – women who previously had very little independence could hop on to their bicycles and the ‘world was their oyster’. However, they were restricted by their attire…long dresses, corsets and the like were not practical for the physical exertion required when riding ones bicycle and so women’s clothing evolved. It also becomes quite obvious why Bicycle Face was invented… women discovered bikes, decided to ‘dress like men’ and headed out into the world, leaving less time for them to do the housework and prepare the dinner. 

Downloaded from Google

What these silly men hadn’t factored in though, was that us women are clever – we weren’t fooled by their imaginary disease… and so it is that I not only do I now ride a bike in the standard cycling kit of a jersey and shorts, or trousers as I wish…but I am now using an even more modern invention to facilitate my meanderings… the Shewee! What would those 19th century chaps have thought?!

Downloaded from Google

I saw something else which amused me, but it is past my bedtime so I may post more on a similar subject tomorrow. 

Good Night from Glasgow! 




National Bike Week

Apparently it’s National Bike Week (http://bikeweek.org.uk/) and I feel like I’ve made the most of it, with the sportive last Sunday and the Runway Rumble on Friday night. 

The Runway Rumble is a 4 hour endurance ride, from 2000 to 0000, held at Gloucester Airport in Staverton, the intention being to cycle as far as you can within 4 hours with none of the interruptions found on the roads. Our ‘race’ prep consisted of losing the bike lock key, turning the house upside down – twice- to find it, eating a late dinner and then rushing around trying to regain time. Not great prep one might think, but surprisingly it did us no harm.  I entered with the Dames, and cycled the whole event with Sammy, who set the pace and then kept me going throughout.  Ollie entered on Thursday as an individual and did his own thing, which worked out surprisingly well! Sammy and I attempted to guess what our final mileage would be early on; I guessed 60 miles and Sammy said she thought it would be more – we settled for 65 miles and had a celebration when we reached 65 miles at exactly midnight.

Sammy and I

Sammy and I



It was interesting to see the changes in the light throughout the night; as the sun was setting Sammy and I were convinced that we were being followed by a ghost rider, on reflection it was probably just elongated shadows. Later in the evening, once the runway lights were on, we were able to entertain ourselves with the massive shadows our bikes and hands were making on the runway in front of us. But it was once it became really dark, hallucinations began to kick in – most memorably –  jumping because I thought I was about to go down a big hole and secondly going off track and almost leading Sammy and I into the grass.

Sammy and I

Sammy and I

The night sky

The night sky


Thanks again to Mum and Dad, for their support through the whole event, and to Diane and Andy for coming to cheer us on. A special mention for Mum who stayed right until the end, when her bed time is 2130 normally! Massive congratulations to Ollie who managed the whole thing and did as many laps as us (despite having a puncture) – apparently training is completely unnecessary!!!

The Runway Rumble Results were released this morning and I have extracted the Female Results:

Female Results

Female Results

I’m pleased with 11th out of 26.

The End!

The End!

It’s Sunday and I am still in pain, which is good timing since I now have an enforced week off  due to a busy week and a visit to Glasgow.  In the meantime…for those of you who are interested Sharon, from Dressability, and I were interviewed by the radio last week. Whilst writing this post I have had confirmation that the interview will be on tomorrows show from 1500-1600 – you can listen at Swindon 105.5 FM.


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The 20 minute rule…

I survived!  I was too tired to blog on Sunday evening and I prioritised delivering presents to my Dad, who’d spent all of Father’s Day standing at the side of various roads supporting me. – Thanks Dad 🙂 So, I intended to write last night, but as soon as I got home I fell into the sofa and remained in a semi-comatose state for the rest of the evening.  I wonder what it is you most want to know, is it:  Whether I managed to keep my food down? Whether the Shewee was put to use? Whether I finished? or What time I managed to do it in? I will try and answer all of the above, here goes:  I was lucky enough to meet up with Clare, an ex-colleague and a fellow cyclist friend, who had signed up to do the 60 mile route with a friend, Tamsin, and they were kind enough to invite me to do the first 55 miles with them. I am so glad that I didn’t have to do it alone – the IPod just wouldn’t have had the same motivational effect. 

Queuing to start

Queuing to start


On our way!

On our way!

My parents, Grandparents and Ollie, all coordinated to follow me around on the day and provide support – they ensured that they were at various points along the route to offer photography, refreshment, first aid and technical services to us as required – and they were invaluable! The picture below is the first chance Ollie had to snap us, at around the 5 mile point.   Early on...still smiling And shortly after, this happened…

Thanks to Ollie for pointing out our mistakes!

Thanks to Ollie for pointing out our mistakes!

…our first mistake of the day (the signage really wasn’t that great).

And so we come to the burning question, did I or didn’t I?!? I did!  I am so relived (excuse the pun) that I bought it! The sportive was fairly cheap, which meant that other than at the HQ there were absolutely no facilities, something which I hadn’t realised in advance. The Shewee is one of the simplest but greatest inventions ever made.

The first 55 miles of the course were relatively flat, the conditions were almost perfect – just what I had wished for; slightly cooler, overcast and no rain, for this first section we were able to average around 16 mph. Furthermore I read about sportive nutrition the night before, here, and I strictly kept to eating a little every 20 minutes – Mum and Dad had Fig Rolls, which were most definitely the fuel of the day.

The main irritations of the day? – A slight breeze, a rattly bike and poor signs.

Going the extra mile... literally

Going the extra mile… literally

Conditions and support were so good that Clare decided, half way through the morning, that she would swap from the medium course to the long course, and finish with me. At the 53 mile point, shortly after she’d ungraciously dismounted thanks to some nasty gravel, Tamsin left us via the medium course and Clare and I continued for the final 30, hilly, miles.

Clare and I on the final 30 miles

Clare and I on the final 30 miles

Who puts massive hills at the end of an otherwise flat course?!!? Two in particular were HORRIBLE, and they came just after we had missed our Charfield stop with Herb, so we were close to running out of supplies. I don’t think either of us have ever been so pleased to see someone as we were to see Mum and Dad at the top of the second hill, which had gone on and on and on…Water, wipes and bananas were gratefully received and set us up for the final 10 miles. It was also at this point that we realised that my ‘rattly chain’, which I had oiled and fiddled with throughout the ride had actually been my bottle cage falling off! 

The end is in sight!

The end is in sight!

All this writing, and I still haven’t answered three of the main questions.

Did you finish?


Yep – finished!

In what time?

The official time can be found at the link:Rider Times

Or our riding time can be found at the link: Laura’s Strava Activity

 So 88.8 miles, completed – followed by a lovely high protein meal and yes – it all stayed down. The 20 minute advice worked well. 

Just another three days until the next one…Runway Rumble


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Nervous novice

A quick blog post on the night before my second ever sportive, this one is just under 30 miles longer though. At 90 miles, the mileage tomorrow is slightly more than what we did on our trip to Wales and back. So, understandably I am nervous. I haven’t yet managed to work out what caused the sickness and the weather is much hotter. Tomorrow will be a great test as to how well prepared I am for the August 100 – I suspect I will struggle as very little of my training has been in heat. 

I found this article last night, which I found really interesting. To see the image in a readable form visit the webpage: here

How your body beats the heat fromhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-your-body-beats-the-heat/2014/06/10/5f4892e8-f0b6-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_graphic.html

How your body beats the heat

I have discovered that when you become a cyclist, becoming a nutritionist and physiologist is all part of the package. I’m still learning though, my stomach is just hoping that I am a fast learner.

Apparently one should ‘carbo-load’ before a big event and I’ve certainly taken on a lot of food today! A lovely, big chicken risotto for lunch and then at least two full adult portions of tuna pasta bake this evening. Desserts were of course part of both those meals – Eton Mess this lunch time and a calorific delight of Nutella and ice cream this evening. 


I feel sick before I even start.


Wish me luck! 


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A wee improvement

I’ve been really nervous this week about my upcoming sportive (Sunday), but today has been an exciting day so it helped me to forget.

After only one ride on his new bike Ollie decided to do a Time Trial! I was planning to marshal but at the last minute, due to the nice weather, I decided to race too. We arrived early and got places 3 and 4. While hanging around at HQ I purchased my new Dame Cycling  jersey but I was totally distracted, having received an e-mail saying that my essay results were available online (remember NoSQL – the course which I was going to leave because I was clueless…). Well, I needed to load the webpage in order to see my results but  HQ is in the middle of the countryside, and often I struggle to get mobile signal, let alone 3-G so Ollie and I were stood on my car, waving both our phones in the air trying to load the page. Five pages later and after much torturous waiting I found out that I had been awarded 75% and 78%. I am totally shocked. I genuinely thought that I would struggle to get 50% to pass.

Back to cycling: During the second lap I was reminded of my novice status when I was passed by a gentleman, three times my age, who had started two minutes after me! Realising this, I decided to try my hardest to keep up with him and maybe even pass him and regain my dignity. Despite his seniority I had to try my very hardest to keep up with his casual cycling…

I improved on my last TT time, but still not sub 31 and not my best time. Ollie however, managed a 28.51 on his first time out. Impressive and a little sickening! 


Ollie enjoying his first time trial

Ollie enjoying his first time trial


For all my effort I looked like this, at the end: 


End of TT pain

End of TT pain


Unattractive, unimpressed face.

Finally, this evening, I collected my latest cycling related purchase… 

New purchase

New purchase


Do you know what it is? (I had to ask my Mum whether it was acceptable to post about this!) I’ve not tried it yet… updates to come! 


Yet another late night post. Bed Time.




P.S…In case you were wondering… I didn’t catch him up. In fact, after about five minutes of trying to catch him up I don’t remember seeing him again. I base this on years of experience. 

Our first bike ride; cake, mud and irritating ease.

Another fab weekend – although it could easily have started off being pretty embarrassing as there was serious potential for a repeat of the projectile vomit situation and I was due to meet up with the same two friends as the unfortunate hospital trip! However… I chose being late over embarrassing myself all over again and I had a long lie on the sofa until my stomach felt stronger. 


Saturday I rode to Dame cycling shop – a fairly short ride and then visited my Gran for her birthday – Happy Birthday 🙂 Ollie then made us chocolate brownie – so our ride today was fuelled entirely by cake (and I wasn’t sick, so it’s clearly good for me – plus there’s no chance I would waste good cake). 


After collecting his new bike from Cheltenham, Ollie and I cycled from Cirencester to the Black Horse in Amberley. I have slight ‘new bike envy’, I absolutely love the colours. Time to invest in a summer bike???

Ollie's Felt F95

Ollie’s Felt F95

We were very lucky with the weather, it was lovely and sunny for the first half of the ride, apart from the final 10 minute run-in to the pub. As we rode across Minchinhampton Common it was blowing a gale and tipping it down but we had plenty of time to prepare ourselves (mentally, since we had no rain gear) as we could see the rain from over a mile away. We timed lunch (at 1700..) very well – torrential rain came down as we ate our baguette and cheesy chips, looking out over the Gloucestershire countryside from the Black Horse pub. For a while we began to think that we might have no choice but to venture out into the rain in our shorts and jerseys and cycle the remaining 20 miles home freezing cold, wet and miserable. However, as it happens we were very lucky and patience paid off – after waiting for about an hour the rain ceased and we headed off albeit through flash floods.


We could have easily been confused with a pair of mountain bikers.


Sock line, and it's not a tan!

Sock line, and it’s not a tan!


Annoyingly Ollie appears to be a natural cyclist, he didn’t have any cleat issues (I had my camera ready to catch him falling off) and I struggled to keep up with him. Anyone got a leg stretcher? I am convinced that my legs aren’t long enough.

In attempt to avoid yet another week of late nights blog writing – I am heading off to bed (00:18) but have some interesting stuff to put up later in the week.