Somewhere under the rainbow…

I finally made it out on my bike for an evening ride on Thursday evening, clocking up just under 30 miles, despite a dodgy tummy.

I am blogging from the football!

Having cycled on miles of quiet, virtually empty country lanes I was most upset to hear a tractor hunting us down. I was briefly convinced that I could ‘out-run’ it so I cycled as fast as I could. However, apart from a much slower than average speed once I had regained my sanity, I had very little to show for it. Though I suspect the Farmer had a gloating little giggle to himself, watching my failing effort and I then had to endure being tailed by a large, noisy beast for several miles.

I’ve never been very good with loud noises. Well, loud noises over which I have no control…someone else vacuuming for instance.

On we went…and sadly it was beginning to get dark. It’s still only August but it really doesn’t feel like it! Right now I am comfortably sat in the stands during a ‘summer’ afternoon in a hoody and a winter gilet.

The next part of our ride was eventful; it’s disconcerting to hear someone wail…and then turn to see two bodies on the floor. One, the source of the noise and the other a lovely black horse. Not that he stuck around for long!

As a first aider in this situation my training tells me I should check for danger and then tend to the patient.

Swindon just scored. 1-1.

Training can’t prepare you for these situations though…so I went to find the horse.

…I’ve been in a bike/runaway horse scenario before but my ride of choice in those days was of the four legged variety…my Mum who was on the bike still has nightmares…

So I clomped off down the road, in my Lycra and new, undamaged cleats, to find a horse of at least 16 hh which had been totally freaked out by a tiny, yappy Jack Russell. He’d luckily missed a land rover and trailer as he’d bolted around a corner and the passenger and I followed him down a muddy track where he cornered himself.

Horse reunited with owner (who by the way was conscious and speaking all along) I set about picking the large amounts of mud out of my cleats with a stone. A job which needs to be finished tonight.

Those few minutes of madness highlighted just how silly people are;

1. Several people confused both Ollie and I as horse riders. We were wearing Lycra and cycling shoes.

2. The lady on (off) the horse had gone out for a ride without a mobile phone, without telling anyone where she was going, while no one was at home waiting for her.  A cyclist doing that would be bad enough…but a bike doesn’t have a mind of its own.

And so we finished off our ride, with one more minor incident involving a homicidal/suicidal dog diving in front of us as we descended a hill and arrived back home in darkness.

To finish off this post, I would like to say a big hello and thank you to Graham who has been following my blog and has sponsored me thanks to meeting my Granddog out on a walk…talking of whom…Get Well Soon Barney dog.

Laura

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Checking in

It’s been thirteen days since I last posted!

I’ve been in a bit of a to blog or not to blog situtation…but I miss it and I’ve still not completed 100 miles.

Since London I’ve not spent all that much time on my bike. 6 days after London Chris, Ollie and I cycled to Bradford on Avon and back, which was an extremely hilly ride, punctuated by a lovely lunch at a riverside cafe. Apart from that I’ve had a few short rides but it’s been wet and I have been suffering from headaches. 

A bank holiday may seem like a perfect opportunity to get some miles in on the bike however the rain today has been very persistent! So I chose to spend it productively by finally cleaning my bike, for the first time since riding it through the floods of London.

Standing in the torrential rain, wearing wellies and a Gortex coat while applying wet lube to my chain it felt very much like winter. It’s August. But sooner or later I am going to have to start to enjoy cycling in the rain again.

Though… I have been considering the merits of buying a cheap, second hand bike to use on my turbo. Changing the tyre each time I want to use it is a chore and the perfect excuse for missing a training session.

Although my training has been limited I have been productive in other ways; I have booked a 100 mile sportive for early September. The sportive which is called the Wiltshire 100 is likely to be much more difficult than the London 100 full course, as the area is extremely hilly. No hurricanes this time please! Also, Chris, Ollie and I have been planning a recce trip to Horsley to find a spot to watch the Tour of Britain from in September…hopefully this ride will take place next weekend. However I was probably at my most productive when I bought my {bullet proof} Gatorskin tyres and fitted them to my bike. Lesson learnt!

So after a relaxing and frankly, lazy three day weekend, the next two weekends should be somewhat more challenging. Horsley next weekend, Wiltshire the following weekend and then a bit of cycling to watch the pro’s bomb past.

Finally, just a quick note of thanks to Liz Mackley and Russell Riggs for their post event publicity which has seen me in the local paper once again and also featuring on the local radio station. Great stuff!

Back to work tomorrow. Off to bed.

 

It was not the turn of the century.

The long awaited 10th August 2014 was not the day that I had planned for, trained for and certainly not the day that I have been imagining for the last 6 months. I suppose it was a cyclist’s nightmare, but a blogger’s dream. Where to start?

I think to start I need to mention the fantastic support I have had over the last week in particular: to my parents for travelling to London on the train for a mere glance of me crossing the finish line and for the pleasure of buying me an ice cream to help my recovery; to my brother for organising them (!) and for cleaning my bike; to Ollie for spending an entire week cooking for me and looking after me, for putting up with my nerves, for driving me, for getting up super early and for travelling around London alone to catch photographs of me; to Sammy and Jean for putting up with me and keeping me going; to the Public of London and Surrey, who were frankly amazing and to London Ride 100 for making the right decision. There are many others but it’s beginning to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech.

Setting off

Setting off

Shortly after I posted, first thing Sunday morning, the organisers of London 100 made the decision to cut out Box and Leith Hill making the route just 86 miles long. Initially I was extremely disappointed, having spent 6 months training and preparing for the century and avoiding completing 100 miles so that London could be the one, however having completed the 86 miles I am convinced that the organisers made the correct decision. There were several accidents along the way most probably caused by the poor conditions, Leith Hill descent would have been Leith-al!

The main cause of the day not going as planned, and resulting in me naming my ride on Strava as ‘Hellish’, was named Bertha; ex-hurricane Bertha. The Met Office describe the horrendous rainfall and wind speeds within their blog, but of particular note was their comment about the amount of rainfall:

The highest hourly total was 18.4 mm at Wisley in Surrey between 9 and 10 am this morning

As a small, novice cyclist I am yet to develop the strength or discover the skill to cycling in wind, even the most unassuming of breezes upsets my cycling and slows me down, so although I knew that the rain wasn’t going to be fun, it was the wind which was really concerning me. I couldn’t really have imagined the amount of rain which came down though, or the subsequent conditions which we would have to endure. I remember wondering, while cycling through Richmond Park with a disorientating stream of mud running diagonally across the road, whether this was a course better designed for Mountain Bikers. It was shortly afterwards, in Kingston, that we were asked to dismount in order to walk through or around the largest flood that we had faced to this point.

Flooded under the Kingston Bridge.

Flooded under the Kingston Bridge.

Having carried our bikes around the flood and remounted, we were captured on camera by Ollie:

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I heard the course being described as Toughmudder for cyclists by two girls on the TV, while Chris Boardman described the rain as being

Torrential and then Biblical and then back to Torrential again. 

There were points within the course, while cycling in the centre of the road, that I was unable to see the curbs at each side of the road, let alone what was in front of me. Although I was wearing my cycling glasses water was still pouring into my eyes; so it is from this experience that I learnt that my left eye lid is pretty inefficient… I constantly had to wipe/rub the water from my left eye or cycle with my left eye closed. 

As with most organised rides, once I am out on them I rarely know where I am so I can’t identify the locations of the two other significant floods which we went through, one of which I thought had killed my Garmin Cadence sensor as I had 0 cadence for the following 10 miles.  £££££ flashing before my eyes. Nor can I expose the location of the crazy , cyclist hating woman who nearly had me off. I think at this point it is important to stress how absolutely fantastic the public were; people of all ages, individuals, couples, families, pub parties all out cheering us on, high-fiving us and generally making us smile, in torrential rain as well as sunshine. But this one lady ignored, even fought with, the stewards and walked out into the road directly in front of me, with a look of rage in her eyes and shouted STOP! There would have been no chance for me to stop but I managed to swerve and avoid her. Her action was simply to make a point though – the road behind me was clear – she only had to wait a matter of seconds to cross safely.

The secondary cause of the day not going to plan, could also be blamed partly on the weather, in that within 7 miles of the start I had two consecutive punctures. It took around 30 minutes to replace the tube, twice, and to do an inordinate amount of pumping (Sammy kindly banned me from pumping due to my sore wrists). During this 30 minute stop we couldn’t believe that we didn’t receive a single offer of help, while on the Savernake Sizzler you’d be offered support by a fellow rider at the merest sign of a sneeze but on Sunday as three ladies struggled, competently, at the side of the road flanked by men standing around looking on we weren’t offered assistance, not even once. That’s London for you. Once we had set off again we flagged a Mavic support vehicle for their track pump. On the road once more, in torrential rain, barely able to see what was in front of us, we were flagged down by two lads who were on their fourth and fifth punctures (double puncture); they had run out of tubes and their pump had broken. We stuck around to help them and thus ended up at Hampton Court over 60-90 minutes later than anticipated. The day was barely recoverable – if we got to the end without being captured by the broom wagon we would be lucky.

 

Double puncture in torrential rain.

Double puncture in torrential rain.

Boys struggling

Boys struggling

Girls helping

Girls helping

And this leads to the third cause of the day being more difficult than it should have been; weather and maintenance distractions meant that I didn’t keep to my fuelling and drinking plan. Furthermore, my poor foresight and thus preparation meant that I hadn’t given my Fig rolls and electrolyte tablets adequate protection – at Hampton Court hub I found a pink mush, a combination of the tablets and the rolls. In case anyone was wondering, pink Fig rolls taste as bad as they look. At Newlands I bonked but there was a handy cafe selling chips which we each bought a portion of and ate like the possessed.

I’ve taken two days to reflect on a ride, which became my priority for 6 months and after so much anticipation it’s difficult to get over the disappointment of; not completing 100 miles, not enjoying the ride and the fact that the ride was punctuated with difficulties. However, I think it will become a fond memory – the crowds, the piano man singing ‘The bare necessities’, sprinting along the Mall (as instructed by my brother – in Cavendish style), the privilege of cycling on closed roads and I suppose even the weather added an element of adventure to it. 

My brother's comparison on me and the Pro's

My brother’s comparison of me and the Pro’s

And late yesterday my brother sent me this…

2 seconds slower than Vos

2 seconds slower than Vos

…so maybe I didn’t do as badly as I first thought.

The wait for the turn of the century continues and I remain defiantly novice.

For those of you who have already sponsored me – I will complete 100 miles this summer, and for those of you who haven’t – why on earth not?! I cycled through a hurricane – it’s got to be worth a fiver surely?

Laura

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The official photographs can be seen here but they are not representative of the day – I was soaked and wearing a waterproof for all but about 90 minutes of the 8 hour ride.

 

 

It’s here.

The big day has arrived! The alarm is set for 0450 but like a kid at Christmas I woke up at 0420, at which point it was still and dry outside. Great news… the dream I just awoke from was right, it’s going to be warm and sunny! 

It is now 440 and it’s hammering down!

Hmmm

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The weatherman is always wrong. Right?

Here is an excerpt from the BBC Weather website:

 

Yellow Alert of Rain

From: 0015 Sunday 10 August

To: 2345 Sunday 10 August

There is the risk of severe weather during Sunday as a depression tracks over, or close to, the UK. At this stage there is more than average uncertainty in the forecast, but the public should be aware of the risk of heavy rain, strong winds and large waves, sufficient to disrupt transport and make outdoor activities dangerous.

 

Glad I purchased a new waterproof jacket yesterday!

On a positive note, I felt a little better, when I woke up this morning, than I have been. Also, rain has got to be preferable to scorching heat – however wind is a huge issue; I’m too little to be a strong cyclist in wind. Those of you who’ve taken part in the sweepstake of my finishing time may want to reconsider your answers!!!

 

Laura

 

 

Tapering is just another word for lazing…

Four days to go and my Latest Publicity has gone live; many thanks to Roger Ogle for publishing it and a mention for David Wray, who I went out on a ride with a few weeks ago, and with whom I share a page. 

I am currently meant to be on a ride, but it was raining and the weather said that it was going to continue to rain, so I decided to change it to tomorrow… it’s now really sunny.

Nerves are really beginning to kick in, not helped by my arthritis really beginning to kick off. Complete exhaustion, even after a full night of sleep, a swollen toe joint and even sore hips have been really worrying me today. On Sunday, I was as exhausted at 15 miles as I was at 94 miles the weekend previously. That would be a disaster if it happened on Sunday. 

So I am lazing around and being cooked for, my friend Nicky is providing ‘joint cream’ and I am hoping for the best. 

Laura

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