Homeward bound

We did get back on our bikes to cycle home on the 27th and for 40 miles of the 50 mile trip, all was well – sunny and warm for the time of year, lovely scenery and we kept a decent pace. To avoid the issues of the previous day I decided to try a new tactic to keep my fingers from freezing; Ollie’s mum helped me to wrap my fingers in kitchen foil! My fingers stayed nice and warm for the first part of the ride but the last 10 miles were AWFUL…hail battering our faces; we couldn’t look up, we couldn’t speak. Horrendous. The result of the tin foil experiment was therefore influenced by the fact that it disintegrates once it gets wet and while it worked up to a point, it was a complete pain to remove from the inside of my gloves.

Once I had dried out, cleaned squished slug off of my bicycle and showered I sat down and ordered a nice new pair of Sealskin gloves which I am hoping will do the trick. In fact they arrived today, but we are away in Cornwall, so I will have to see 2014 out with cold paws (trotters – for those that know me).
Although saying that I think we went out over-dressed today despite reacting to the weather forecast. It’s mild here and pretty hilly. Today we ascended 3500 ft over 35 miles.

Off to bed, ready for a mini coast to coast from Fowey to Watergate Bay.

Laura

p.s. Expect many nostalgic posts over the next couple of days, this year has been great!

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Reflection on a year to treasure

Wow, it’s almost a month since I last posted.

Today is my birthday! ūüôā

So I thought that I would briefly reflect on an interesting year. In fact one of the best years.

Since my last birthday I have:

  • been accepted to ride in a sportive I didn’t even enter
  • started this blog, to discuss the sportive which I didn’t even enter
  • projectile vomited, thanks to a bike ride
  • met the perfect man
  • inducted this same man into the cycling world
  • met some amazing cycling ladies (Dame Cycling)
  • competed in a time trial thanks to those ladies
  • joined a cycling club
  • ridden on an airfield, during the night
  • …and experienced being engulfed by a peloton
  • ridden in the sportive which I didn’t even enter (with the support of a couple of Dames!)
  • …in a hurricane, I will have you know
  • completed a century (but not the sportive that I didn’t even enter!)
  • raised ¬£1,100 for Dressability
  • passed multiple Masters modules
  • competed in a team triathlon (something I would never previously of considered doing)
  • bought a tandem
  • started a new job
  • ridden 3,361.90 solo miles
  • ridden 67.7 tandem miles
  • completed 242 hours on my solo bike
  • completed 4 hours in the Rear Admiral’s saddle

All topped off with a cycling birthday treasure hunt of 31 miles, which resulted in me finding my presents right back at the start!

Finding the second clue at the top of the White Horse hill.

Finding the second clue at the top of the White Horse hill.

Treasure! Right back where I started!

Treasure! Right back where I started!

I think Ollie wants more cakes... amazing present :)

I think Ollie wants more cakes… amazing present ūüôā

A fairly quick post, but thank you for your support and to everyone who has made this year so special.Thanks for the boost to the Carbon Bike Fund, the winter gear to keep me warm on these cold days and the games to play when I just can’t be bothered to get out on the road. Here’s to the next one, to all of us getting into the sportive that I did sign myself up for, and to some party planning for the big 3-0.

Laura x

I’m half crazy…

I finished my last post with the assumption that our adventures would be limited over the winter months, and in comparison to recent months I suppose they will be, however Ollie and I have a new exciting arrival which will see us chomping at the bit to get out in the winter sunshine.

IMG_5301

An exciting last minute E-Bay bid early last week, resulted in us owning this lovely tandem! It also meant a five hour round trip to Poole (which really is not that far away) to collect it after University on Wednesday. Once lectures were over I excitedly rushed off to prepare a picnic of bacon butties for Ollie and quiche for me, fairy cakes and snacks. Whilst we expecting a fairly long road trip, we weren’t expecting the mammoth queues which added an hour or so extra onto the trip. It was lucky for Ollie, the driver, that he had me to keep him awake and alert; my top volume, out of tune ‘singing’ to 80’s and 90’s hits was just the thing! (Who knew that ‘Mickey’ was one of the 50 greatest ever hits?!?) Arriving home at 2200, we had to plonk the tandem in the garage and get on with normal evening chores… okay well I did have one sneaky honk on its absolutely amazing horn! Sorry neighbours.

With the exception of colleagues, we decided to keep it a secret until we had used it. During a University coach trip on Tuesday I just happened to mention that we had bought it to some of my university ‘friends’; after their initial speechlessness, they then were highly amused and decided to tease me for the rest of the week. There was mention of them trying to get the word ‘Tandem’ into their Friday presentation as many times as they could – but with eight presentations to listen to they all blurred into one and I couldn’t tell you whether they bothered to or not!

With University, work and the weather it wasn’t until Saturday that we had our first trip out. The original plan for Saturday involved me studying all day while Ollie went to the gym, washed the bikes and did various other chores; but it didn’t work out quite like that. Ollie went to the gym, but I got fed up of studying, or more to the point I was too excited to study – so late on in the afternoon we decided to surprise my family. It was quite an ambitious route really for a first go, 42 miles in total, however we seemed to do okay and didn’t have any massive problems – it all went a little too well! That is not to say that we are ready to put clip-less pedals on just yet (though we have purchased them for when we do feel ready)!

I knocked on my parents door in giggles, and my Mum firstly noticed me and then Ollie – it was some moments before she realised that…

Your bikes are stuck together!

We weren’t able to stay for long as the light was drawing in, but my brother’s face was an interesting mix of amusement and complete disdain! A common theme through the ride, actually; Ollie commented that it was making a lot of people smile, and then on reflection said that he wasn’t sure whether we were making people smile or they were actually laughing at us. One lad appreciated us though; as we pulled away from my parents house and cycled along the road we honked a goodbye, which caused a group of lads to cheer and one of them ran alongside to give us a high-five. This tandem lark is fun! Mark my words, the tandem is the next big thing! Anyway…

Onwards Captain!

Next stop – Grandhouse! The¬†Grandbeings met us – they had been warned of an arrival, and were waiting outside, they had no idea what they were waiting for though! Ollie honked like mad and I waved with two hands (you don’t even have to hold on, on the back!) until they saw us. They had a tandem, or several, before Granddog was around, so they were very excited, and my Gran had a ride along the road in the Rear Admiral’s seat, which must have gone down well as we received our first rental request!

Again, it was just a quick stop and we were back on the road. On the way back we spotted a chap on a road bike some way ahead and decided to try and catch him, which we managed, and eventually we overtook him – a mistake! On the flat we were faster than him, however on average over inclines etc… he and we were going around the same speed, which was 1. awkward and 2. meant that we felt we had to keep the speed up, having gone to the effort to pass him. ¬†On the second ascent though he got fed up of drafting us and sped off up ahead. We were glad to see the back on him; totally knackered, post gym, Ollie experienced his first episode of bonking. Obviously, I did what any good girlfriend would in this situation and fed him jelly babies whilst swinging my legs out to the sides and telling him to pedal harder.

For all the teasing, we’ve had quite a few rental requests! So it can’t be THAT funny!

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

Dressability Logo

Sponsor me here

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

 

 

Proficiently novice

Yesterday, the hottest day of the year, James and I cycled to Nailsworth and climbed the ‘W’ (or the Ladder, if you prefer).

Afterwards I visited my parents for dinner and to clear out my old bedroom. Look what I found…

20140718_203702

 

So, it seems that I have been proficient at cycling for 17 years, which suggests that I have been a novice for quite a long time. I think I must be one of the most proficient novices going.

Apparently, I also had an afro (or is it a perm?)

Apparently, I also had an afro (or is it a perm?)

There was also this little badge…

20140719_094634

I wonder whether it is a pre-requisite of the ride?! …Maybe I should wear it, I wouldn’t want to be turned away at the start after all of this training.

Either way, it’s reassuring to know that I am a competent cyclist.

Laura