A big thank you

I’ve just had the exciting news, from Dressability, that Mitchell’s Cycles have offered to provide me with a jersey for the event. Dressability have been looking to provide me with a jersey for many months now, from various outlets – local and national – but I feel it’s particularly nice that the bike shop which I knew as a child (all of my childhood bikes, including the one I posted a photograph of recently were purchased at Mitchell’s) is the one which will be supporting me, and in turn I hope that I will be supporting them. In fact, only 2 days ago, they were my shop of choice to service my bike, they fitted new brake pads for me (which are almost too good!!) and gave me some advice. It is a friendly, family firm, which was established by Mr Mitchell Snr in the ’60’s and is located just down the road from the ground of the Mighty Swindon Town Football Club.

To make it even more exciting, it is now only 9 days until I pull that jersey on at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and head to the start line. That’s 5 (and a half) more working days and 4 more bike rides (including one in London the day before). I can’t remember what life was like before cycling, blogging and fundraising.

Finally, on a completely different note… my Granddad got in touch after my last blog to say;

I knew Colin Gardner, The Bike Magician, many years ago, 1980’s, when we moved to Swindon. He worked in a bike shop on Commercial Road called Total Fitness, now called Total Bike. He was in Swindon Road Club and rode local time trials.  He did my old Raleigh bike up for me one time.

What a small world it is, particularly considering that Colin the Bike Magician came down from Preston to do the bike fits! Here’s some pictures of my Granddad – Phil and my Uncle David, on their bikes back in the day:

Mail0014 Mail0009


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Nearly there


The last big challenge before London is complete, and I am now confident that I can finish well within the allotted time. Our official time for today’s 94.8 miles is likely to be just over 8hrs 30 mins however, it was incredibly hilly, hot and we had many stops – our ride time was 7 hrs 6 mins.



This blog post must start with thanks, again, to my Mum, Dad, Gran, Grandad and brother for their roadside support throughout the day, and to Ollie for giving up his Sunday to cycle the entire event with me. He must be crazy.


Today, I yet again, took on some advice which I had been given during the week – inadvertently I think – by my Uncle, who said he used to use his water bottle to squirt down his back for cooling. Today, I used this strategy – not to the detriment of my hydration I must add! – to keep cool and try to keep my headache at bay; though not necessarily down my back, over my head was a favourite. 

And finally, thanks to Kelli at Dame cycling for bringing us together as a big group.

Talking of which, here we are at the start:


IMG-20140727-WA0017 The Dame team and I at the start

We started off together, but had signed up to various lengths and agreed to various speeds. Sammy, Mandy, Ollie and I signed up for the 94 Miles and agreed to take the route at a steady pace, so after around 5 miles we broke off into our group and set the pace for the day. Until…Sammy got a puncture… and then we hit this:


IMG-20140727-WA0058 IMG-20140727-WA0053

Slowly making my way up Ramsbury Hill

Slowly making my way up Ramsbury Hill

Thanks to my brother for the encouragement, photos and also the push up the hill! 


Sadly, at around the 40 mile point, the heat, hills and mechanical problems forced Sammy and Mandy to change their route and they swapped onto the Medium route (around 57 miles), so Ollie and I continued alone and saw hardly any cyclists for the rest of the day! At several points later on in the afternoon I wished I had joined them, but on a positive note I really noticed the improved power and position following on from my Bike fit yesterday with Colin the Bike Magician. I can only assume that this is the reason that my performance on the hills was significantly better than normal. 


But the real highlights of the trip were:

  • Finally reaching the Windmill, which my brother and I have been attempting to visit, or intending to visit, for sometime.
  • Using a urinal!!! (With my Shewee obviously) – We found two solitary porta-loos in the countryside, and went in one each – it seems however that I went into the ‘Mens’ and Ollie went into the ‘Ladies’ – lucky really as it was a new experience for me, although they were pretty disgusting toilets.
  • And of course our names written on tarmac, like the pro’s.



Finally reaching the windmill



Passing time and conversing 

Towards the end, as the mileage began to kick in Ollie and I had a conversation about clouds; “Oh look there’s a cloud elephant”  “Yeah, and there’s an angry monkey” “Erm… no, can’t see that..”. Shortly after that an old guy on a very old, rickety bike raced past us..”and that’s when you know you’ve been on your bike for a very long time”.


Feeling prepared

The nutrition, hydration and kit all worked a treat, I wasn’t uncomfortable and I wasn’t sick… it seems that I am ready.



The end


And so it is… time for tapering. Two weeks from now, it will all be over. 



The mathematics of hills, horses and food

This long, dragging week has been plagued with sore legs muscles and an overwhelming realisation that the sportive on Sunday, in preparation for the Big One, is actually going to be harder. It has a 17% hill and three White Horses…White Horses are generally found on hills… and those are just the ones I know about. London 100, as this great blog explains, is flat then ‘bumpy’ then flat; a course split into three and within the bumpy third there’s three hills, two of which I have done – one of which was simple.    Sunday is going to be hard!   Sammy sent me some supplement advice earlier in the week which got me thinking about what I eat and drink on the bike. I think I take the right drinks out with me; one electrolyte drink and one bottle of water, however in this hot weather I need to get much better at drinking them. I also do my best to hydrate the day before… so Saturday will be all about water drinking and bike fitting.

As for food; I tend to take a banana, fig rolls, digestives and jelly babies then I will buy a packet of crisps about half way round. I haven’t had a gel for months – they are, frankly, disgusting. So, this runner’s blog made me very happy. It’s worth a read and advocates the use of Jelly Babies as opposed to gels; I don’t really feel I need to research the opposing arguments – what he writes is clearly absolutely correct. Jelly babies are therefore, here to stay. Or at least in my jersey pocket to stay, which actually considering how sticky they get in there, I may not have any choice about!

The blog made me think more about what I should be eating and I came to the conclusion that I should have 58 grams of carbs per hour of exercising. According to Google, which is also always right, fig rolls contain 11.9 grams each, digestives 19 grams and a medium banana 30 grams. Baring in mind my 20 minute rule, I should be eating just under 20 grams of carbohydrate every 20 minutes. I love this kind of maths!!! In order to keep the maths simple, I will just eat three digestives an hour!!! 

Maybe not… they are pretty crumbly and overly sweet. Fig rolls however are great for iron, carbs and they are bite sized! Therefore, I think if I stick to my current regime, which hasn’t made me sick, but become a little more regimental with it and with water drinking then I should be okay. The twenty minute rule worked great on the track but it hasn’t been put into practice very much out on the road (too many distractions). Sammy, you and I are trying this on Sunday! A Fig Roll every 20 minutes and half a banana an hour…

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Practising and Prepping…

Gosh – I am just back from Surrey; either everyone had the same idea as us or every weekend is a like a sportive weekend in Surrey – I suspect the latter. So many cyclists, everywhere! This was the cause of extreme disappointment – for the first time ever, on uploading my ride to Strava, I had absolutely no trophies. Generally on the routes which I ride, there are just a few hundred other riders who’ve attempted the segments, today’s route however had been previously ridden by around 25,000 other riders. I feature around half way through the leader board though, so I am a proud novice; who’d want to be top of the league anyway – once you’re there, you’re there – where’s the challenge in that?!!

The intention today was to practice the hills which feature in London-Surrey Ride 100, (which is three weeks today); namely Box Hill and Leith Hill. The route which Chris had planned for us, took in Box Hill at around seven miles and again at around 64 miles, with Leith Hill at around 55 miles – the latter two replicate the mileages I could expect to have done at these points on the event route in three weeks time.

Box Hill has become notorious since the 2012 Olympics and so is it one of the most dreaded features of the London 100 route, second only to Leith Hill. So with this in mind, on attempting Box Hill seven miles into our ride, I was shocked at how easy I found the ascent – I wondered whether it was just the benefit of fresh legs. But no! I redid the same hill at the 43 mile point and although my legs were fatigued I still found the hill to be relatively undemanding (and it’s extremely rare that I say such things about a hill!) Leith Hill was however less fun, though it was shorter than I imagined. Sadly, road closures meant that we did 48 miles instead of 66 and so the climbs came earlier than they will in the main event. We did consider making our way through the roadworks, like other cyclists were doing (involving climbing around two ditches with bikes), but we would have had to do it in both directions which seemed too much trouble to be bothered, particularly as my main aim was hills rather than mileage. 

Climbing Leith Hill

Climbing Leith Hill

Now all that’s left to do during the next 20 Days, 8 hours and 8 minutes…:

  • Decide whether I am keeping my latest pair of new shoes (Shimano this time)


  • Bike fit – booked for Saturday 26 July.
  • Last long ride, the Savernake Sizzler –  a real challenge – Sunday 27 July (also likely to be a trial run for the London-Surrey 100 bib-shorts, to test them for comfort.)
  • Bike service – booked for Monday 28 July (also day one in new job- which could be interesting if I manage the whole 92 miles the day before!)
  • Wash bike – Friday 8 August
  • Free cycle – Saturday 9 August

Talking of which….I got a package through the post earlier in the week which confused me as I thought it was for the main event, however it was a Free Cycle goody bag: 


Free Cycle tabard

Apart from a pretty disgusting tabard, the Free Cycle should be a great, chilled out, fun day – taking in some of the atmosphere and distracting me from my nerves.

I doubt I will cycle much this week – maybe an easy 10-15 miler on Wed or Thurs but I am achy at the moment so I will rest, do stretches and roll my leg muscles. Plus I have a cake to make for those piggies at work.

Have a great week – if you find any loose change, even 1p/2p’s please think about donating them to Dressability. 


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Proficiently novice

Yesterday, the hottest day of the year, James and I cycled to Nailsworth and climbed the ‘W’ (or the Ladder, if you prefer).

Afterwards I visited my parents for dinner and to clear out my old bedroom. Look what I found…



So, it seems that I have been proficient at cycling for 17 years, which suggests that I have been a novice for quite a long time. I think I must be one of the most proficient novices going.

Apparently, I also had an afro (or is it a perm?)

Apparently, I also had an afro (or is it a perm?)

There was also this little badge…


I wonder whether it is a pre-requisite of the ride?! …Maybe I should wear it, I wouldn’t want to be turned away at the start after all of this training.

Either way, it’s reassuring to know that I am a competent cyclist.


Hints and Tips

The weekly Prudential RideLondon hints and tips e-mail came out today and it caught my eye! It looks like it may have been written for me…


Screenshot of e-mail

Screenshot of e-mail

Be kind to your gut…Survive long climbs

They were a bit disappointing really, common sense and things I have already learnt, although ‘Go with what you know’ makes a lot of sense…

Go with what you know

“People should try to relate the unknown of tackling long climbs to another area of cycling, such as time trials or any other sustained effort they are used to. That helps to put it into context.”

When I see a hill up ahead the groan is audible to all those in the vicinity… maybe if I were to learn to put it into context as suggested, then I would have a more positive mental attitude. A ten mile TT is basically 30 minutes of sustained effort – a hill is never going to be that.

Be kind to your gut …

..was slightly more interesting and split the article up into ‘Nausea’, ‘The Runs’ and ‘Windy days’. Nausea was of the most interest to me…


Anyone who has ridden a time trial will be familiar with that horrible wave of nausea that comes on at the finish. It’s possibly a sign that you’ve put the right amount of effort in, but if it comes on more frequently it can interfere with your enjoyment of the sport. Dehydration and low blood sugar can contribute, as can overeating before an event, and even anxiety. Low blood sodium can also cause nausea and is best avoided by drinking hypotonic sports drinks – simple water does not replace the sodium lost in sweat.

Whilst Windy Days simply explained that passing wind up to 15 times a day is average, and that ‘excess’ flatulence is probably just a perception.


On that note… I am off for an Italian meal, carbo loading for tomorrow’s adventure.

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