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:

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Laura

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Nearly there

Done

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.

 

Thanks

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:

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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:

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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.

 

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Finally reaching the windmill

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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.

 

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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)

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  • 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: 

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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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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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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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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 

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: 

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The peloton

The peloton


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Laura 

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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

Ollie

Ollie

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.

Laura

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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?

Finished

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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