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. 

 

 

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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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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…

Nausea

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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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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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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