25 days to go – refocusing

A busy, and tiring weekend kept me away from my blog. Chris (yes, that brother of mine), was riding in the Dunwich Dynamo and I offered to pick him and his friend Danny up from Dunwich beach first thing in the morning (their ETA was 6am). Ollie and I decided we would make a weekend of it, rather than getting up at a crazy hour and making the 3.5 hr journey from Swindon to Dunwich. We dropped Chris off in London at around 10 am Saturday and headed off for an afternoon of Go Ape! 

After Go Ape, the unthinkable happened. I camped! Actually pitched a tent and attempted sleep, in a field full of campers, bbq’s and dogs, during a thunderstorm.  However, I didn’t fully engage with the activity; we got up at 3 am to collect the boys, who’d made amazing progress and were due to arrive. So, I didn’t get the chance to experience the shower block. Oh well. 

I’m not sure who was more tired – the boys who had just ridden 120 miles or me after half a night in a tent. 

So I didn’t get any riding in over Saturday and Sunday but on Friday of last week  I had the pleasure of meeting and cycling with David, who is the CEO of Voluntary Action Swindon and supports the Swindon MS Centre (he is riding London 100 in support of the MS Centre).  Here’s a picture of us taking a refreshment break: 

David and I

David and I

I also, had a good ride last night. Finally. Thanks to @bgddyjim for reminding me to drink electrolytes and to James for pointing out my lazy cadence.

A few months ago, when I first bought my Garmin I made a real effort to keep my cadence high and I saw a definite improvement in my cycling, but over the last few months I have met new cycling buddies. I’ve been chatting and have lost that focus resulting in a slow and lazy cadence and thus making cycling harder for myself. Last night, with a more focused approach to my cadence, I managed to keep up with Ollie while going up a hill. I did however do 37 miles with a loose wheel, and the first 5 minutes with my front brake off – so I remain defiantly novice. 

Laura 

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Alteration of the week – Backless Jacket

The alteration this week is a  jacket of mine which has been altered for a wheelchair user. The back fabric has been removed so that the  fabric can lie flat and thus looks better from the front while sat in a wheelchair.

Also, the jacket has been split at the back and rejoined with velcro and magnets – this facilitates dressing.

 

Jacket Alteration of the week Jacket Alteration of the week

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Low confidence and no energy

It is 22:18 – I haven’t eaten dinner yet. I have just been on the worst ride ( Ollie got stung inside his mouth by an evil wasp so it was probably worse for him). It was only 33 miles, but at about 13 I wanted it to be over. Every single mile from then on was painfully slow.

Normally on a ride of over 70 miles there comes a point at which I have so little energy that:

  • turning my head to check for vehicles at junctions becomes a nice to have, and something I choose not to do.
  • taking the risk and riding over pot holes seems preferable to pointing them out or avoiding them.
  • signalling is considered a complete waste of energy.

I hit this point at around 20 miles. 

As I was prepping for the ride this evening and getting my biscuits ready I thought to myself, ‘it is only an evening ride I won’t need much fuel’, so I put a digestive back – leaving three Fig Rolls and one digestive in my jersey. Big mistake.  This was also the first ride in absolutely ages in which I didn’t have any Jelly Babies with me – oh how I missed those little green men. Bonking is described within the Oxford Dictionary as; (Of a cyclist or runner) reaching a point of exhaustion that makes it impossible to go further. I felt alot like this today.

I couldn’t decide if I was angry, frustrated or upset but I was in such a bad mood; my tiredness was affecting my balance and several times I wobbled towards the bushes. It terrifies me that one month from now I will be in a London hotel bed, wondering how little sleep I can get away with and still manage to complete 103 miles. I’ve hardly been able to manage more than 20 for the last few weeks! 

One month to go…Programme and Instructions

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Finally, in TdF news: Fool TdF spectators into thinking you’re a British rider by lying on the ground next to a bike.

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Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter…Take it from me

Under the Sea… Under the Sea…

Wow – I want to cycle the Channel Tunnel!!! It looks amazing! 

(or alternatively Yorkshire would do – there’s no potholes there you know)

While I am on the subject of Yorkshire check out this inspirational video even without the blemish free roads, Yorkshire looks like an incredible cycling weekend away!

The most watched sporting event of the year has kicked off, if you hadn’t realised then where on earth have you been? As a cyclist and someone who writes a cycling blog, people expect me to be able to make intelligent conversation about le Tour de France. I know the names of three cyclists: Wiggins, Cavendish and Froome (two of those aren’t even in the Tour) – I have no more knowledge on the subject than the average man on the street, in fact I probably know significantly less! I just hope that I can get through the next 20 days by pointing out that my blog is that of a novice cyclist. I spend all my time training, working and studying, so I don’t have time to follow the pros too! 

Saying that though, I am currently watching The Cycling Show, on ITV4 – Laura Trott has been on giving her top tips for riding London 100. As far as I can tell, the tips were; work your way up by adding 10 miles to your ride each week (time consuming!) and to do make sure that you’ve done 100 miles before the main event. However the main thing I took away from her interview was that she has never ridden Box Hill. I’ll be making my own rules then… and no chance am I doing 100 before the day, it’s not a race for me, it’s about completing the mileage.

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A pain in the neck

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At the weekend, someone asked me about my training plan in these last few weeks leading up to the event. Honestly, I don’t really have one. So, I’ve printed off a training plan and will have a look tomorrow – I suspect the diary is too full to make any routine work, though.

I’m not completely useless though, I have considered the need for a bike service and bike fit, however I can’t organise a bike fit until I have some new shoes. Needless to say, the two new pairs of shoes went back after baking. I am not at all convinced that Bont’s special ‘Resin’ is particularly mould-able at all. That brings the tally to four pairs of returned shoes, and now back to the drawing board. 

Tonight I did 27 miles and within the first two, my neck was hurting and it was a bit depressing at the 20 mile point, when I realised that I would have another 80 miles to do in a few weeks time, yet my neck was ridiculously sore already.  Hence the desperate requirement for a bike fit, in the meantime I have booked a massage for Wednesday, so hopefully that will make a difference.

Laura

Name in print, rides in stats

Earlier in the week I spoke to Liz Mackley from the Swindon Advertiser, view the article she has written about me here.

Liz is also raising money for charity and is writing a blog; Podge to Plunge

Finally, before I head off on my bike, here are some of my cycling stats: 

My cycling stats

and the details of my rides:  http://veloviewer.com/athlete/1479961/rides

Laura 

Inspiration to keep on pedalling

I’ve had an interesting, busy and ultimately successful week; I have a new job!

A highlight of the week however, was meeting a Dressability customer; Martin and his wife Beryl*. Martin, has a condition called Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects the Central Nervous System – a system which is fundamental to everything the body does. MS, therefore can cause many different symptoms –  though the majority of people with MS will not develop these symptoms simultaneously and thus will not become severely disabled. However, around 10-15% of people with MS will suffer from high levels of disability and thus many complex symptoms. 

In a person suffering from severe MS, the symptoms may take over a person’s life, and could affect almost every action necessary to get through the day – walking, eating and getting dressed… Each of these actions requires the help of a carer; this may be a family member or a friend – someone who has also made adjustments to their life. It is vital that these people, both patient and carer, get support to ensure that their lives are made easier and their independence is maximised.

Martin, is within the 10-15% of people with severe MS, and is highly dependant on his lovely wife. Whilst he is able to get around in an electric wheelchair, he relies on Beryl to dress and feed him (when it comes to ice cream though, this is very much a one for you, two for me kind of ratio! – Oops…not sure he saw that happening!), the former being particularly difficult for a petite lady – not simply due to the size and weight difference – but due to the awkwardness of clothes! 

To dress Martin in a t-shirt, jacket or shirt Beryl puts his arms in first and then employs a little bit of contortion and brute force to get it over his head. That’s where Dressability came in; they have opened the back of his formal suit and replaced it with velcro and opened the side of his waistcoat and replaced it with a zip. Martin and Beryl demonstrated this, while I was drinking delicious home made Elderflower cordial in their kitchen, and it made the task so much easier. Not only that but the clothes looked identical and no different to those you would find on the high street. Martin, Beryl and their friend who was visiting were genuinely excited, pleased and relieved to find such an innovative and useful charity – as we sat chatting they thought of a list of clothes which they would have adapted in the future.

It was great to meet such a lovely couple, to gain greater understanding of what my charity of choice does – and I also found out how Oxygen hoods are used. Oxygen is essential to the tissue healing process, but the inflammation which is typical of MS restricts the transportation of oxygen. Damage cannot be prevented, but additional oxygen can help the body to heal and this limit the damage.

Breathing oxygen under pressure causes the dilated and leaky blood vessels in MS to constrict back to normal size and reduces the swelling. At the same time, more oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream so increasing the amount available to help undertake repair.

Oxygen Therapy

*Names changed for anonymity 

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