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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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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Nervous novice

A quick blog post on the night before my second ever sportive, this one is just under 30 miles longer though. At 90 miles, the mileage tomorrow is slightly more than what we did on our trip to Wales and back. So, understandably I am nervous. I haven’t yet managed to work out what caused the sickness and the weather is much hotter. Tomorrow will be a great test as to how well prepared I am for the August 100 – I suspect I will struggle as very little of my training has been in heat. 

I found this article last night, which I found really interesting. To see the image in a readable form visit the webpage: here

How your body beats the heat fromhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-your-body-beats-the-heat/2014/06/10/5f4892e8-f0b6-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_graphic.html

How your body beats the heat

I have discovered that when you become a cyclist, becoming a nutritionist and physiologist is all part of the package. I’m still learning though, my stomach is just hoping that I am a fast learner.

Apparently one should ‘carbo-load’ before a big event and I’ve certainly taken on a lot of food today! A lovely, big chicken risotto for lunch and then at least two full adult portions of tuna pasta bake this evening. Desserts were of course part of both those meals – Eton Mess this lunch time and a calorific delight of Nutella and ice cream this evening. 

 

I feel sick before I even start.

 

Wish me luck! 

 

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A wee improvement

I’ve been really nervous this week about my upcoming sportive (Sunday), but today has been an exciting day so it helped me to forget.

After only one ride on his new bike Ollie decided to do a Time Trial! I was planning to marshal but at the last minute, due to the nice weather, I decided to race too. We arrived early and got places 3 and 4. While hanging around at HQ I purchased my new Dame Cycling  jersey but I was totally distracted, having received an e-mail saying that my essay results were available online (remember NoSQL – the course which I was going to leave because I was clueless…). Well, I needed to load the webpage in order to see my results but  HQ is in the middle of the countryside, and often I struggle to get mobile signal, let alone 3-G so Ollie and I were stood on my car, waving both our phones in the air trying to load the page. Five pages later and after much torturous waiting I found out that I had been awarded 75% and 78%. I am totally shocked. I genuinely thought that I would struggle to get 50% to pass.

Back to cycling: During the second lap I was reminded of my novice status when I was passed by a gentleman, three times my age, who had started two minutes after me! Realising this, I decided to try my hardest to keep up with him and maybe even pass him and regain my dignity. Despite his seniority I had to try my very hardest to keep up with his casual cycling…

I improved on my last TT time, but still not sub 31 and not my best time. Ollie however, managed a 28.51 on his first time out. Impressive and a little sickening! 

 

Ollie enjoying his first time trial

Ollie enjoying his first time trial

 

For all my effort I looked like this, at the end: 

 

End of TT pain

End of TT pain

IMG_5160

Unattractive, unimpressed face.

Finally, this evening, I collected my latest cycling related purchase… 

New purchase

New purchase

 

Do you know what it is? (I had to ask my Mum whether it was acceptable to post about this!) I’ve not tried it yet… updates to come! 

 

Yet another late night post. Bed Time.

 

Laura

 

P.S…In case you were wondering… I didn’t catch him up. In fact, after about five minutes of trying to catch him up I don’t remember seeing him again. I base this on years of experience. 

Our first bike ride; cake, mud and irritating ease.

Another fab weekend – although it could easily have started off being pretty embarrassing as there was serious potential for a repeat of the projectile vomit situation and I was due to meet up with the same two friends as the unfortunate hospital trip! However… I chose being late over embarrassing myself all over again and I had a long lie on the sofa until my stomach felt stronger. 

 

Saturday I rode to Dame cycling shop – a fairly short ride and then visited my Gran for her birthday – Happy Birthday 🙂 Ollie then made us chocolate brownie – so our ride today was fuelled entirely by cake (and I wasn’t sick, so it’s clearly good for me – plus there’s no chance I would waste good cake). 

 

After collecting his new bike from Cheltenham, Ollie and I cycled from Cirencester to the Black Horse in Amberley. I have slight ‘new bike envy’, I absolutely love the colours. Time to invest in a summer bike???

Ollie's Felt F95

Ollie’s Felt F95

We were very lucky with the weather, it was lovely and sunny for the first half of the ride, apart from the final 10 minute run-in to the pub. As we rode across Minchinhampton Common it was blowing a gale and tipping it down but we had plenty of time to prepare ourselves (mentally, since we had no rain gear) as we could see the rain from over a mile away. We timed lunch (at 1700..) very well – torrential rain came down as we ate our baguette and cheesy chips, looking out over the Gloucestershire countryside from the Black Horse pub. For a while we began to think that we might have no choice but to venture out into the rain in our shorts and jerseys and cycle the remaining 20 miles home freezing cold, wet and miserable. However, as it happens we were very lucky and patience paid off – after waiting for about an hour the rain ceased and we headed off albeit through flash floods.

 

We could have easily been confused with a pair of mountain bikers.

 

Sock line, and it's not a tan!

Sock line, and it’s not a tan!

 

Annoyingly Ollie appears to be a natural cyclist, he didn’t have any cleat issues (I had my camera ready to catch him falling off) and I struggled to keep up with him. Anyone got a leg stretcher? I am convinced that my legs aren’t long enough.

In attempt to avoid yet another week of late nights blog writing – I am heading off to bed (00:18) but have some interesting stuff to put up later in the week.

 

Happy Birthday Mum and Thank You Liz

I must start this post with thanks to the Queen for the free day off yesterday, very kind. Take note Princes Charles, William and George…us Civil Servants are incredibly grateful for an extra day off.

Sadly, the girls wimped out of the SRC development ride on Tuesday evening due to the stormy weather, and having not yet done any group riding I wasn’t confident to go alone, plus I am going through a lazy patch. After two long work days in London, on Wednesday and Thursday, Friday was my first chance to get out on the bike for a decent ride, however the weather was being less than understanding. I spent the day doing house work, a massive food shop etc… and then my Mum and Dad visited (a visit which incorporated some sprint training when I realised I had no milk for their tea) – Happy Birthday Mum 🙂

Dad and I changed my back tyre,  in the lounge-cum-garage and I set up my bike on the turbo (I thought I was done with that for the summer). So my ‘long-ride’ yesterday turned out to be a 40 minute TT training session on the turbo. I hope Monday is nicer.

 

Off to the circus now, no..as far as I know I am not one of the acts.

 

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