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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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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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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Don’t [go] without a needle, thread and thimble

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Last night I promised I would write about something else which I came across while looking up Bicycle Face. The list typed out clearly below was published and can be seen (less clearly) in Newspaper Oswego Palladium May-Aug 1895 – 0593.

Don’ts for women riders

Don’t be a fright. 

Don’t faint on the road.

Don’t wear a man’s cap.

Don’t wear tight garters.

Don’t forget your tool bag.

Don’t attempt a “century.” 

Don’t coast. It is dangerous.  (But fun!)

Don’t boast of your long rides.

Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”

Don’t wear loud hued leggings.

Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”

Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.

Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.

Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.

Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.

Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.

Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.

Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.

Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.

Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.

Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.

Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.

Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.

Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?

Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.

Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.

Don’t without a needle, thread and thimble.

Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match.”

Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.

Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you.

Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.

Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.

Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.

Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labour.

Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.

Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”

Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.

Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because you ride a wheel.

Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.

Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.

Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty. 

Read more at: Total Womens Cycling

Having read through each of these I believe that I only contravene 20, although admittedly there are several that I don’t understand (for instance does “Don’t be a fright” mean “Don’t go out looking ugly” or “Don’t be a wimp”?) and a few of them appear to be totally irrelevant to the modern day. I think that the simple act of writing this blog, violates at least four of the rules; 

  • Don’t boast about your long rides
  • Don’t use bicycle slang
  • Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know (what about female urinating devices?)
  • Don’t appear to be up on records and record smashing

I’ve highlighted, in bold, those statements which amused me or seemed particularly relevant and I am sure from reading previous posts you will understand why. But there is one point which really stands out to me, and that is “Don’t attempt a century”– oops, sorry chaps of the 19th century!

And finally, as crazy as it might seem, I am confident that I know of two ladies who do actually take their needle, thread and thimble with them on their bicycles! Liza and Mum both cycle to the Dressability office; they often take work home and have things which they then need to transport back into the office. 

Laura’s midnight message:  Stop fainting on the roads, and scaring the cows ladies – it’s not becoming.

 

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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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