A30 – > Bodmin
A361 – > frome
1800 Miles, 10 Days, 100,000 Calories. All for Charity
A30 – > Bodmin
A361 – > frome
So it begins
Today is the day, after 8 months of training and getting ready the big day has finally arrived.
The weather looks like it has changed for the better with temperatures reaching up to the 20degree mark wit clear skies predicted.
Countless hours of riding have been put in and there is nothing left to do now other than get on with it.
The bike is freshly fettled and ready to go.
The clothes are clean and the legs are shaved and ready for a workout!
In the marvellous words of the wonderful Marvin Gaye
“lets get it on”
We all have one, a pain cave that is. You know the place, it’s where your mind goes to protect you from the lactic acid thats building up in your legs.
It can be whatever works for you, maybe its a picture of your children, maybe its a quote from someone famous or spiritual, maybe you even find yourself telling your legs to shut up.
Somehow those rapscallions at Rapha have managed to take over my pain cave, if proof where ever needed that a fancy aspirational website can do a corking job for marketing then this surely is it!
Cycling against the wind in driving rain and trying to keep my speed up as best as I could and what comes into my head? The shop section of the Rapha.cc website, all neatly arranged, and I found myself going through their summer range, deciding which items I needed the most!
HOW THE HECK DID THIS HAPPEN!?!?!?!
How did a clothing company get into my most sacred of headspaces?
I spent over two hours going through their catalogue of clothing in my head, deciding which bits would suit me best and why I should get them – surely the ultimate virtual supermarket sweep!
Suffice to say, virtual pain cave shopping doesn’t mean that a delivery driver actually appeared – so maybe I just need to think harder and cycle faster and by the magic of osmosis it will arrive!
I would be interested to know where your pain cave takes you, leave a comment below!
Angels and Demons
with just 4 weeks to go, actually just 26 days by the time this is sent, it seems that the inner battle that rages before every wedding is now taking place within me.
are the shoes right, will my gloves hold-up, is that angle for my knee going to be the right one to not give me pain, can I do it?
every niggle, every squeak, every doubt is seemingly magnified right now.
yesterday I went for a ride and for the first time in this process I finished early, not from cold, nor even wet, but because I wasn’t enjoying the ride. To be frank it had been a pretty crappy day so that was definitely not helping, but the doubting voices shouted down the better angles in my head.
honestly it saddened me, because I know it shouldn’t be lie that, and I don’t think I can afford the time away from the saddle that this curtailment meant.
I guess with it being so close the doubts are magnified as the mind, and the body perhaps, looks for ways to duck out of what will be a painful and tiring experience, self-protection if you will. the excuses are coming out much more easily than in the past, with only favourable weather being the type to ride in just in case I catch a cold, my bed seems to hold me in that little bit better in the mornings, not letting me get out early for a long day.
the only real reasons I have to not be out cycling are work and painful knees – and work can go screw themselves (i’m self employed) whilst my knee just means I have to devote time to the rollers, to stretching and to my beloved compex device.
like thomas anderson in the matrix, faced with the choice of the red-pill or the blue pill, I am certainly at a junction from which only 2 possibilities spring forth, use the hours of time on the bike as a propellant, to work that bit harder in these last few weeks to achieve the goal I have been focussing on, up until now, so intently these last 6 months, or quit.
quitting means less pain, less hassle, more sleep and more ease – all the things my body would be happy with.
Yet to go on means so much more than that, I’m a religious fellow and one of the scriptures that means a great deal to me talks about Adam (him off of the garden of Eden times) and it says that “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” and yes, going on means finding that joy.
That joy that comes from rising early to put your body through a workout unknown to 99% of the country – to ride solo through a day and into the evening, to burn more calories in 12 hours than an average adult male in 4 days!
Joy comes from so many places whilst on the bike, from starting the day in the saddle, from watching the sun rise and feeling the days first warmth, to climbing long beastly hills at an aching crawl to descend them like a lemming from a cliff.
Today was a bad day.
it was hard, and I just wasn’t in the mood for riding -so I didn’t.
I resolved to try harder tomorrow, and not just to try, but to do – to put in longer hours, to try more miles and to really stretch myself – because right now that is what the training for the lejogle ride needs.
And for my reward for making that choice to stop today to redouble tomorrow?
Spring lambs, and the enclosed video and pictures of what I can only describe as instant death!
My top speed so far is just a touch over 40mph on the bike, and that was exhilarating, taking one of these photos involved me climbing on a ledge wearing cycling shoes and holding my camera aloft as high as I dare – I was trembling with nerves as to fall in was to die (and my wife would not have been pleased with me for that! but then again unless she reads this blog post she wont know – HI ANDA!)
26days away, I’m nervous, Im anxious, I am not sure i have enough of the right clothing and relevant supplies.
26 days away, its going to be hard, its going to be memorable, its going to be,and excuse my lyricism, epic!
Ok, so after riding 150 miles on friday I was in no real fit state to sit down and write my feelings and memories from the ride, so thanks to my glamorous wifey for sitting by the bath while I spoke random words to her.
I wanted to convey as best as possible some of the thoughts that go through my head whilst out riding for such a extended period of time.
Now this list isn’t exhaustive, not even close, and it doesn’t feature anything about songs or singing(shouting) along to them as I cycle, but rather its more about what is happening at the time and my responses to it.
The ride itself was the last day of the riding week for me, so I had put a few miles in already and was a little bit on the tired side already….
Tiredness – legs feel like concrete – I don’t want to ride all day – can i do smaller loops instead – perhaps come home at 100 miles if Im too tired
More application of rule no.5 and no.9
Which turn at the roundabout – make a decision about destination!
ow – Ow – OW OW OW – ah a bus stop!
The A158 – surely the worst road for cycling on – when was this horrid thing resurfaced last?
Hours of road buzz – got to double wrap my handlebars – cant feel my fingers (hands!)
so many platitudes spring to mind when trying to think about expending effort – too many cliches exist!
Rain, Rain and yet more flipping rain
raining so hard I cant see the road to steer through the potholes
Ooh some sun, damn it, its gone again! Hello rain!
Relief at seeing the wind turbines in the sea, skewness must be close now!
And there’s the sea, time for chips!
Drinking in chips with both hands – lush!
Uh Oh, seems I have miscalculated my eating – only 1 bar and 1 gel left for 75miles back – not cool!
Heading back now, 20 min rest is plenty!
Out in farming country now – lots of mud on the roads
mud on roads + lorries + water = filthy me!
excellent, 2hrs of heavy rain to wash the mud off
hhmmm whats that noise? Ah the rain/muddy water has washed my chain of oil!
Sunshine – jackpot!
Big smiles as the sun is on my face – at long last. Changes mood so quickly
The only way to find our limits in life is by pushing ourselves as far as we can go – and then that little bit further!
Children need to be encouraged to participate as much as possible – how much damage can negativity have on our kids – be safe but be passionate!
Listening to the words of ‘I dreamed a dream’ – amazing!
That seems to be it, I am sure there was much more but it was 48 hours ago and it fades so fast!
A 10hr ride is a challenge for sure, but what makes it so enjoyable is completing it and knowing that in a few days I will be coming back to go further again – walking through the door at home to be greeted by the family is a great feeling – something to be shared with them, I hope to get wifey on a bike in the future so she can experience a ride like this!
The ride can be split into separate parts, terrain, weather, time, tiredness and physicality – and each one by itself is a little challenge of its own, added together it is what makes it so much fun – there is no-one to beat, no race to be won, its just me on a bike getting to a destination in some horrid weather – and a wonderful day out is guaranteed!
Why we ride – for those that can’t For people we know, for those we will never meet. For those in our towns, villages and cities, for those a world away. For those who will come after us, for old friends sadly missed….
Why we ride – for those that can’t For people we know, for those we will never meet. For those in our towns, villages and cities, for those a world away. For those who will come after us, for old friends sadly missed….
We all remember certain people in our lives, those teachers at school who we idolised for the right reasons, the captain of our favourite sports team, the kid with whom we shared great memories growing up.
This past weekend I learnt of the passing of a dear school friend from cancer, a cheerful guy, with a real passion for cycling and enjoying life. I have memories that stretch back 20 years of us cycling together in woods and over ploughed fields, and I even remember the first girl he kissed (her name was Michaela).
It hit me very profoundly, and as I type this great memories of happy times flood back, always tinged with sadness at the thought of opportunities missed – I had hoped to spend some time riding with him this year, afterall he was one of my conspiritors in getting me back on a bike, he was in actual fact the guy that sold me my first bike as an adult (and a great deal he did!)
He was taken very quickly by one of the menaces of the modern age, the horrible and insidious cancer. We all will lose people from this horrible illness, friends and family alike, and each one of them is tragedy as they leave behind memories and unfullied dreams. Personally I have lost more than I care to count, knowing that I dont have enough fingers to count them all – and I am still only 35 – so I expect to hear of more shortened lives from this silent menace – and each one will sadden me and countless others.
I tell you this not because of its cathartic nature and a hope to feel better over my friends passing, but out of a desire to highlight one of the charities I am riding for this year.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation (more commonly known as LIVESTRONG) is a charity set-up to provide support and assistance to cancer victims and survivors and to their families.
Their work doesn’t focus on finding a cure for cancer, they concentrate on offering support and hope to those who are affected by it, whether that is as a victim or as a family member. Cancer still carries a stigma about it, and the work of LIVESTRONG is to break down those barriers, to show that cancer is an issue which sadly affects us all in one way or another, and to ultimately to provide a platform for hope and strength for those affected.
I am proud to be riding for this charity, and my friends passing has made it all the more poignant for me.
Today, and everyday this week, I will ride with him in my heart, I will find those tracks of cobbles (more likely to be dirt roads) and I will ride the pave for him – I will ride with fond memories of youth, of fast descents and torurous ascents, of accidents and child-like joy, of our first races together, of sharing laughter at mountain-biking cartoon sheep, but most of all I will smile at the memories of a great person, who let me borrow his homework for 2 years in maths, and I will shed a tear for him and his family at the passing of a son, a brother and a friend.
To find out more about LIVESTRONG and to support them in their efforts please visit their site.
Kit List requirements
After riding to Bristol and back and through the rest of the training I have been doing I have come up with a list of items which we are still in need of for the ride.
If you can help in any way, maybe you make or distribute it, you own a shop, or perhaps your best drinking buddy does, then we would really like to talk to you.
If you would like it back after the ride then thats fine, we can send it back to you!
Please get in touch with us on 07788 140285 or via email@example.com
As odd as it sounds – we only want ‘good’ items of clothing, it HAS to be able to stand up to the rigours of long-distance cycling – so if it looks pretty but won’t last then thanks but it wouldn’t be what we are after.
This list isn’t exhaustive, if you have used an item or think of something that would be rally useful then please get in touch!
I am a size 42 in shoe and generally a medium in sizing/build
Shoes Sorted thanks to the kind folks at Todays Cyclist
Helmet – currently using a large, need a medium
Small and lightweight rain jacket – suitable for showers
Comfortable rain jacket – for heavy rain days
Bib shorts – we need 3 more pairs in total
Bib knicks –
2 pairs 1 pair
Cycling jerseys – long or short sleeved – we need 3 pairs
cycling capArm warmers – suitable for overnight riding – ideally windproof
Base layers – merino vests of the long and short sleeve variety – 2 of each
Overshoes or socks – waterproof
Wheels – ideally a pair of aero-wheels that are good all-rounders DONE thanks to Eurobike and American Classics
tyres – long lasting and quick rolling puncture resistant tyres 4 in total
cleaning products – the bike will need to be cleaning every night to check for wear and tear
A bike computer for the handlebars – GPS enabled
SRM power monitor set (ultegra) (thats a pretty big ask I know!)
Any spare parts – hopefully never to be used……(to be returned unused hopefully!)
Conclusion and lessons learnt
The Raleigh SP Race is fast, it kept me zipping along the roads, and coupled with my fi’zi:k Arione saddle it was a comfortable ride. Some weight can be saved on wheels and a few minor areas but as it is – its a great bike to be riding!
In total I rode about 260 miles out of my original target of 300 – disappointing that I didn’t achieve what I had intended, but still a decent amount of miles – generally at a decent pace so pleased about that.
Clothing is super vital – and at the moment I don’t have enough and certainly not enough variation – a decent very lightweight windproof is vital!
Every item that I take with me has to be just justified before it gets into my pockets – I like bottles of gels instead of pouches but once they are empty they just take up space – so pouches it will be!
The lens changing system of the Oakley Radars is brilliant, simple to change and to use its really handy to have 2 super quality lenses for night and day riding!
Hydration is super important – I had some High5 4:1 energy drink with me and some spare powder but i only drank 4 litres in 260 miles – really not enough so will have to pay more attention to that in future!
Knees – this is the tricky one! I need to see a bike-fit / biomechanicist to make sure that everything is running as smoothly as possible – THIS is the one thing that is going to cause me issues!
Fitness levels – good, pleased that I can hold a decent speed for hours – just need to ensure that I can eat properly on the bike and not lose the momentum – and if I do lose it then I jolly well need to ensure that I get it back! Sitting for hours on end and turning pedals over is fine – need to work still to ensure that short sharp hills are dealt with better
Bespoked Bristol was great – if you like bikes and can appreciate the craftsmanship that making them by hand involves then next year you need to be there!
So after a couple of hours rest after riding the 153miles down to Bristol it was time to turn around and head on back again.
After filling up with muffins and apple cake from the fabulous Look Mum No Hands, much to the staffs bemusement I set off out again.
As part of the easing of my knee pain on the earlier journey I had altered my saddle a little, well when I say a little, i had moved it forward but also tilted it which I hadn’t intended to do. So within a few minutes I remembered I needed to level the saddle properly – coincidentally it coincided with me getting a little lost in the city centre so a brief stop sorted that (well, it sorted the directions straight away but I was to stop another few times to sort the saddle!)
One of those famous chaps from ancient history said that what goes up must go down, and the reverse is also true – and if you will remember there is an astonishingly big descent into Bristol so therefore to get out of Bristol there is a long ascent – first of all to get out of the city and then to get out of the area!
After some time going uphill, including time to stop and refill bottles and get night time clothes back on again (it was getting chilly already) I was looking down on Bristol twinkling in the night.
At this point its worth remembering that it is still March, and despite what the day-time weather had been like the nights still get cold, very cold!
Leaving the city areas and heading back out into the Cotswolds it was obvious that I wasn’t prepared correctly for the night time – I was braking on DOWNHILLS to stop the cold from seeping into my arms too much!
As mist descended I had to make a decision about travelling through the night – tiredness levels were ok, the body was a bit achey but feeling good (all things considered!) the knees were sore but bearable, but the one thing I couldn’t escape from was the rapidly dropping temperature!
I was wearing 2 layers on my arms, neither of them were particularly warm, and neither had any wind/waterproofing ability – and it was getting really cold – and this was at 11pm, so there was plenty of time for it to drop down further – and if this happened whilst I was out in the middle of nowhere then serious issues might have been raised which I didn’t want to deal with.
There is an old adage about there being no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing and it rang so true at this point in the ride – what had been fine for dawn, day time and dusk was failing me badly back in the night.
So I started to look for places to stay, the first one I came across was shut, as was the second and it was getting colder!
At midnight I happened upon a hotel in the middle of nowhere, and with trepidation I cycled to the front door, after my last 2 disappointments I wasn’t getting my hopes up too high but I was pleased to see that it looked like the door was still open!
I was pleased to find that not only was the door open but there was the owner behind the desk finishing off his work for the night – imagine his surprise when a dirty faced cyclist came pottering through his doors at midnight looking for a room!
A room was available, a shower was there and a bed awaited!
In the morning the greasiest breakfast was eaten, I think the lovely lady was quite taken aback with the eagerness I consumed the food!
I set off at 10am ready to face the day – although I was stinky from having to put on yesterdays clothes again.
The day was warming again nicely, and by 11 the mist was all gone and I stripped off to minimums to get some rays on my pasty skin – which I might add was already showing the first signs of tan lines from yesterday – I stood in front of the mirror the night before checking them out!
A gentle pace was maintained, but it was soon obvious that due to a lack of stretching and without my rollers or Compex device to loosen me, my knee was tight and going to cause me some issues!
Within a couple of hours my pace had dropped to just 10-12mph and I was struggling to move my right leg in circles to peddle, it was effectively freezing up during the down-stroke shortly before it was fully extended – and trying to stand up and pedal was simply not happening!
I kept up this pseudo-cycling effort, with the speed dwindling and the effort just to stay on the bike ever increasing.
With some quick mental calculations done I realised that even if I could get back to Nottingham it would take me at my current rate another 10+hours and that would see me back into the dark and in all probability the mist again – its unlikely my lights would hold out again for the time needed!
A decision was sadly made that I would get to worcester and catch a train back to Nottingham – so on I hobbled.
By the time I got to worcester I was a poor image of a cyclist – really not enjoying any part of the ride now, unable to even attach my right foot to the peddle, effectively (that word is used ironically) cycling (likewise) with just my left foot!
After a couple of hours on the train, including a cross city centre dash in Birmingham where I got off at the wrong station, I arrived in Nottingham.
The little bit of time had eased the pain enough for me to ride the last 7 miles home at a sensible pace without too much issue. It was good to get back on the bike, despite the long period of being on the train!
It was great to be home, both happy at the distance travelled and yet slightly melancholic at having not achieved what I had set out to do!
Sunday Morning: – not very stiff nor achey just a sore knee that was tender whilst the rest of me felt jolly chipper!
Nottingham to Bristol and Back again
Friday 23rd of March was the first really big test so far in my training – I’d done 165miles in a day before going to Manchester but this was a marked step up from that, with the plan being 150 miles to bristol, a couple of hours rest and then 150 miles back again.
It started out as always a little bit late for me – I had planned to leave at 5am so set my alarm for 4.30 (in the flipping morning!!!) however that didn’t quite happen and after porridge and fetling I set off at 6am – on the plus side the sky was much brighter by then and I guess it had gained a little, and I mean little, bit of warmth.
After just 30 minutes I started to disrobe and fill the spare pocket capacity in my lovely Vulpine gilet with my buff as it really wasn’t needed anymore, despite the fog that was fairly thick still.
At this early point I must point out that one of the ride’s sponsors is Exposure – them off of the south coast who make the most excellent lights – and they had given me a couple of their Flare lights. I guess there are really only 2 ways to tell if your back lights are doing the job intended and in the manner intended and both of them rely on negatives….if you are not hit by a vehicle then you can assume that they have seen you, and in a similar fashion if you are not honked at by vehicles as they come perilously close to you then likewise you can assume that the lights have done their job! During this whole ride and in the many miles of training I can safely say that the honking rate and the wide berths being given by other road users have dramatically improved – these lights are brilliant (if Exposure want me to give them back then I will just buy a couple of them – they are superb!)
Anyway, where was I? oh yeah, just striped off. Ok so now I was approaching Leicester and feeling chipper, my speed was averaging out at 16mph, which including the undressing I was pleased with – a quick scoot around Leicester and across the M1 and an interesting route through the rush hour traffic of the midlands and I was approaching Warwick – by this time my average speed had topped 17.5mph at a very comfortable work-rate.
Just as I left Warwick I think it was I stopped for a sandwich ( it was about 4.5hrs into the ride perhaps) and because it was double wrapped in clingfilm it took me a little longer than anticipated to get into it- and oddly enough this 5 minutes or so seemed to sap me of my speed!
I never really picked up the speed that I wanted again, and coupled with the not 100% sure of where I was-ness of the next hour the average speed slowly seemed to drop – bit of a bummer.
Next came the glorious Cotswolds and a few hours on the Fosse Way, and to start my trip on their I was greeted by one of those red signs that warn you of how dangerous this stretch of road is – one of my favourite signs to be sure.
A stop for lunch (unheard of in my book as I normally just eat and ride) coincided with me taking off my leg warmers and long sleeve base layer and arm warmers. The reasons I waited so long to strip were two-fold, firstly I didn’t want an extra stop to slow me further and two, I had to eat food to make room in my pockets for the clothes to fit into!
Lunch was divine – it was a ‘Choca-fluffernutter’ mixed-seed bagel (nutella, marshmallow fluff and peanut butter!) and it was just what the doctor ordered – come to think of it the doctor would probably ordered it and taken one look at it then promptly eaten it themselves as it was lush, especially as it had melted somewhat in my jersey so a big lump of gooey bliss was in the bagel whole!
So now I was fed, watered with yummy High5 4:1 energy drink(I didn’t drink nearly enough throughout the day!!!) and stripped down to shorts and jersey/gilet (through necessity as I needed the extra pockets it provided) and was ready to rock the afternoon.
Rolling hills, cows, lambing season, English country churches – old villages. That was my afternoon and it was awesome – a real joy to ride through.
The hills were short and punchy, the opposite of what I am used to in the peak district but excellent for short and hard climbs!
Some time in the afternoon the dreaded knee pain kicked in, I’ve suffered for a while with it now so I try to manage it by stretching and not spinning too quickly on the pedals. This ride had actually had a new pedalling strategy for me, rather than spin lower gears quickly I had stuck in the big ring as much as possible and turned over a slightly harder gear but not as quickly – the result? A much higher average speed and no knee pain for 6 hours! result!
I kept on going with the pain, looking ay ways to both manage and ease the severity of it, and by the time I got to Bristol it was gone. The sight of signs saying Yeovil had me a little homesick as I come from down thataway and the thought came into my head to skip Bristol completely and just go to the south coast instead! Maybe next time my better angel said!!!
After an astonishingly big descent I made it into the city centre for the Bespoked Bristol bike show – think porn for bike and you get the idea!
A great ride, average 14.5mph, which was pleasing (that includes ‘comfort’ breaks) and a total of 153 miles – 9 more than expected due to a couple of extra bits added where my memory of the route failed me (do you hear that Garmin?!)
A THOROUGHLY enjoyable ride, the start of a suntan and a 1lb weight loss.
Read Part II for the return leg! (coming later, after dinner!)
DAY 1 Lands-ends penzance A30 - > Bodmin A30 launceston okehampton exeter honiton A303 ilminster A303 … [Read More...]
So it begins Today is the day, after 8 months of training and getting ready the big day has finally arrived. The … [Read More...]
We all have one, a pain cave that is. You know the place, it's where your mind goes to protect you from the lactic acid … [Read More...]
Angels and Demons with just 4 weeks to go, actually just 26 days by the time this is sent, it seems that the inner … [Read More...]
Ok, so after riding 150 miles on friday I was in no real fit state to sit down and write my feelings and memories from … [Read More...]
Why we ride - for those that can't For people we know, for those we will never meet. For those in our towns, villages … [Read More...]
Kit List requirements After riding to Bristol and back and through the rest of the training I have been doing I have … [Read More...]
Conclusion and lessons learnt The Raleigh SP Race is fast, it kept me zipping along the roads, and coupled with my … [Read More...]