All I can hear is ‘click, click, click’ as he is free-wheeling behind me; I am pedalling and getting nowhere

So now training had now begun in earnest and our thoughts turned to our bikes. Wayne has a heavy mountain bike – not really ideal for 100 miles on the road. He started to look at bikes – hybrid ones (but no suspension) with flat bars rather than drop ones. He’s the King of eBay. No really, he is. It’s truly impressive. I think he could make a living at it. In no time at all he had found an amazing carbon fibre bargain – in mint condition. Lightweight and pretty. He did some tactical last-few-seconds bidding and Bingo, it was his! Not one to hang around, he drove straight away to pick it up and less than 5 hours since bidding he was back home with his new ‘pretty’.

Actual bikes aside, we need all the advantages we can get in order to do this crazy ride so clip-in pedals are recommended, because they increase your speed. Oh boy, with my balance? I have managed to topple over at a traffic light in London for no apparent reason on normal pedals. And managed to damage a finger coming down a slope in Portugal after I fell off and the bike fell on top of me – so badly I had to have 2 rings cut off as the finger had swollen so much. How on earth was I going to survive being clipped in to pedals on my bike? Anyway, my friend, the lovely Tania, was having a clear out at home and donated me some cycle shoes, which miraculously fitted me, and so I just needed to buy the pedals. Also I needed to try to work out how to make my hybrid bike lighter so I could ride it for the actual event.

So to Halfords. Found the pedals. Now time to chat to another Wayne (not my Wayne) in Halfords. So how can I make my bike lighter/go faster? Halfords Wayne suggested smoother tyres and other things. Then he asked my how long the ride was.

Me: 100 miles

Him: (Pulls face… silence… then…) Umm, honestly, that bike is not the kind of bike you should be using for cycling 100 miles. 50 maybe, but 100? No.

Me: Silence as it dawns on me I will really HAVE to change my bike. I had kind of thought I could get away with riding my existing bike.

He suggested that I go for an endurance road bike – which has drop handlebars and all. Eek. I had one of those when I was 15  – a long, long, long time ago! Back then it was called a racing bike and it had a massive 7 gears!

I go home to contemplate what to do and where to buy it from. Putting it out of my head for a bit, (my) Wayne has kindly fitted my new pedals to the current bike and we are off to try the silly shoes and pedals (spods or SPDs). Remarkably, I don’t fall off, but I am the slowest, most cautious cyclist you have ever seen. Wayne rides his new pretty, finds it a bit weird but the blooming thing is so fast, on the roads… all I can hear is the ‘click, click, click’ of the chain [correction: click, click, click of the crank – what is a crank anyway?] as he is free-wheeling behind me while I am pedalling and getting nowhere fast. Grrr.

Training continues and so does the research for a bike, I can’t leave it too late as a new one will need to be run in (seriously!) and I need to get used to it. Evans Cycles have a good range so we head to the Central Milton Keynes branch. Long story short, I settle on a bike. Pay the deposit. It will be here in a week. Perfect – we are now 5 weeks before the ride, I will have 4 weeks to get used to it.

But for some reason I don’t have a good feeling. A couple of days later, I call Evans to check on delivery. “Ah, I was just about to call you – there’s a problem” Turns out there are no more bikes available and they cannot fulfill my order. So now I am really running out of time.

I start researching all over again. The King of eBay helps me and sends me more bikes listings. Some like his (not sure I can be so matchy, matchy, even though the bike is so pretty!) and we see a decent bike for sale near us. The bike is not due to sell for another 10 days. Too late. I contact the seller to see if they will do a ‘buy it now’. But he never gets back to me. Sigh. Is this ride not meant to be?

I start researching the same bike from bike shops, and thank you, Google, find a local bike shop with really good reviews selling similar bikes. I call them, speak to a guy called Andy, who seems to know his stuff and says he has stock. I have hope again! Now I just need to get into see them asap as I am running out of time!

Good news. I manage to get to the shop, get measured and look at the bike they suggest. They have an Aladdin’s cave of bikes and bits – the perfect bike shop! I wait overnight to make sure I am making the right decision – which turns out to be the best idea as the next day, the manufacturer is offering a 20% discount now! Yay. Things are going okay now. So I get fitted for the bike and take it home. The next day will be interesting as Wayne and I planned to cycle more than 40 miles, as per the training plan. Scary stuff: Clip in pedals, different riding position, drop bars, different gears and brakes. I can do it, right?

PS We preparing to cycle for Marie Curie in the Ride London Surrey 100 … here:

https://justgiving.com/fundraising/waynejackson2016

 

Dear friends, I confess, I am a fair-weather cyclist…

Now, where did we get to? Oh, yes. We both had places on the Ride London-Surrey 100. We had to register again online and we were done. Later we will be issued with our start times (hoping that they are close together) but we would only hear about that a couple of months down the line.

As we were about to start our training the British weather was, well, British. Rainy. Cold. Miserable. Admittedly, I am a fair weather cyclist. 20 degrees C is perfectly acceptable (plus or minus 2 degrees) but I am not, and have never been, keen on the rain or mud or cold!

The Wayneybaby, naturally, is a different animal. He LOVES the mud. I think it’s down to his rugby playing days when I would look in the bath (tub) after he’d been in it and there would be half the rugby pitch’s mud left in the bottom. Anyway, I digress. So back to in March 2016, here were our cycling stats:

Wayne: 113 miles in 9 rides – including all that mountain biking business

Me: 36 miles across 3 rides – lake and trails and coffee stops

April followed a similar pattern, but training started with a 16 miler around the lakes of Milton Keynes (actually, very scenic – more waterfront than Brighton,  you know?) and with, amazingly, no stops for cappuccino!

The plan was that in May, the training would really kick-in at 12 weeks out. 3 rides in the first 8 days of May were a great start, although the first training we did on the roads (with hills – you may know that I love hills? I love hills… I love hills…) was very tough being a 23-mile slightly bumpy route.

A slight interruption then occurred as we went away to celebrate my birthday in Holland – on the coast and then in Amsterdam. Oh, Holland, how I love thee and your flat, cycling highways! We flew home after a lovely 4 days and by mid-May we were raring to go.

On the 17th, we did a 15 miler round the lakes and trails. The first half was okay, but the second half I felt terrible and was slower than my usual snail’s pace. Had I’d celebrated too much in The Dam?

Well, it turns out I was feeling so terrible because I was unwell. The next 3 weeks I was more or less wiped out by a virus and could hardly train. Sigh. That was not the plan. And then Wayne got it too. Luckily he managed to recover a bit quicker than me, but our training plans were blown to bits. It was now just over 8 weeks to go  – and we needed to make a decision to go for it – or to postpone to next year.

What to do? I searched and found a training plan that was effectively this: train for a century in 8 weeks for those with no time! It looked tough, but doable.

So now it was June already. The bloomin’ British weather was still miserable, cold and rainy.  It was decision time – Tuesday June 7th – with 8 weeks to go. We decided that if we could do 3 x training sessions that week, we would go for it. Tuesday came around (a planned training day) but Wayne was coughing like a trooper – so he needed to stay home and rest – although he totally hated that! But, at least he had more in the training bank than me, I was still playing catch-up.

That Tuesday evening I made it home from the office in daylight hours. Good start. It was raining. Of course it was. And yes, dear friends, I went out in the rain. On my own. As per the plan, I cycled for an hour. I got stung by stinging nettles, got rained on and came home very muddy. So it seemed, we were not ready to give up the fight yet. It was ON. We were somehow going to do this thing and cycle the 100 in just 8 weeks time!

Can we do it? Well, I guess we shall soon enough! 5 days to go!

Cycle 100 miles? Yeah, why not!

Once upon a time, a girl had a bright idea. This is how it began:

Back in the depths of winter of November 2015, I thought: “I need a new challenge for next year. Hmm, what’s that Ride London-Surrey thing all about? Oh look, they have a 100 mile Sportive in the summer of 2016. Let’s sign up for that. Wayne, Wayne, shall we sign up?”

Wayne: “What? You want to do what??? 100 miles on a bike! Without an engine?!”

You want to do what

Wayne: “You want to do what??? 100 miles on a bike! Without an engine??”

Anyway, after not much deliberation at all, we signed up for the ballot for a place each.

Like the London Marathon, we knew that this closed-road ride through London and Surrey would be oversubscribed, especially as it was created  as one of the legacies from London 2012, where some of the route was made famous by the Olympic cyclists. Hmm, that should have been a clue right there. (Just say no!)

We were virtually certain that one of us would get a place and one of us would need to apply for a charity spot. On no evidence whatsoever, we guessed that I would get a place and Wayne would not. A deal was struck: the one who did not get a ballot place would choose the charity to support. The other would raise funds as well – we were in it together. The other thing we knew was that we would probably need to update our bikes – he has a mountain bike and I have a hybrid with front suspension. Too heavy and no good for our first (last?) ‘century’!

There followed a period of not much at all. And not much at all to do with cycling. From December to February, we did virtually no cycling, except for a very few holiday cycling miles over the New Year. Which also involved cakes and cappuccinos. During this time, typical conversations went:

Him: “Go for a bike ride?”

Me: “I’m not going out that rain/cold/sleet/hurricane – are you mad?”

(Repeat)

So to February 2016. The mail arrived from Ride London. One addressed to me and one to him. Yep, you guessed it, I got a place and he didn’t. So after a little bit of prevaricating and pretending he was not going to sign up, he chose a fantastic cause. Marie Curie – who look after people living with a terminal illness. As Wayne says “I lost my Dad, referred to by many as Mr J, in 2005 to the Big C, I witnessed at first hand the care and compassion of the nurses that helped both him and my mum in the final days… truly amazing people

Enough said. That’s it then, we were signed up. At least we still had 5 months until the day. Plenty of time for training, right?

And now we are just 6 days away from cycling the 100. We’ve had some stupid questions (how many bananas can I eat in a day?); many cycling-related purchases;  ‘aha’ moments and, of course, dramas along the way.  If you want to follow along, I will be putting pen to paper over the the next few days and sharing our experiences as we head towards the longest cycle ride that we have ever attempted and biggest climbs we have ever, er, climbed.

We’d love to raise over £1,000 for this fantastic cause which would mean that Marie Curie could provide nursing for someone in their own home for 50 hours. If you would like to support this cause, we would be super-grateful, as would Marie Curie: JustGiving: 100 Miles of Pain

 

 

Yippee! Mission accomplished

2015 Palace to Palace … done! First I want to sat a massive thank you to all the wonderful people who sponsored me… your generosity means that the total stands at an amazing £765 – see Justgiving page

We managed to do it in 3 hours and 37 mins of cycling time … and nearly an hour off our previous time 🙂

Thank you so much you are totally awesome in you generosity xxx

Here are some pics from the day:

Early start:
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Roads were quiet:
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Parked at the office:
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Picking up the bikes on The Mall:

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30 miles in … pitstop!
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Yay! Did it!
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And now … recovery time:
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And finally a massive thank you again to everyone that supported me xxx

2 weeks to go: Hills, wind, rain and a puncture

It was Sunday morning. Again. And that could only mean a Prince’s Trust, Palace to Palace training ride.

This week, I was hoping for a slightly easier ride. We were tackling the same hilly circuit as last Sunday. In terms of other training, I only managed a brief 13 miles on Friday night – late in the evening and it was dark! Very spooky through the trees and foliage. Unfortunately I came back with aching shoulders and back … and a sneaky suspicion something was not right on my bike set-up or my posture. Time for some research.

Cue to look for cycling magazines all over the house (Me? Hoard? I don’t know what you mean?).

Success! I found one called ” Cycling Weekly: Complete Guide to Bike Fit & Injury Prevention”. Perfect. Loads of helpful articles. So it seems that my seat is too far from my handlebars … so my personal and favourite bike mechanic made some adjustments before we went out on Sunday. (Thank you, Wayne xx)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Home, Sunday morning. Porridge and bananas consumed. Drinks, gel packs and snacks packed (seriously. someone invent a stylish bum-bag, please) and we were off. The riding position seemed pretty good and the weather was dry, but windy. So far, so good. Not for long. The heavens opened and it poured it down for about 2/3rds of the ride (ie 20 miles!). Luckily we were warmed up otherwise it would have been so tempting to just turn around and go home. Right at the end on the last 100 or so metres from home, my bike suddenly felt very heavy and bumpy – like riding over lots of uneven ground. Oh no… a puncture! But thank goodness – it was right by the house.

Considering the rain, wind and traffic on the roads, the time was respectable (slow by most people’s standards but we ARE improving!) and virtually identical to the week before. We both felt reasonably okay for the rest of the day which is a big improvement on last year when the same 30 miles felt like total and utter torture!

Well, my dear readers, all this cycling is not just for the fun of getting completely drenched in the lovely UK summer, it’s about raising money! Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training. The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped 750,000 young people since 1976 and supports over 100 more each day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, if you have already supported! If you’d like still like to sponsor me for the 45-mile ride, you can do so here.

Thanks for reading.

Easy like Sunday morning ride – I wish!

With 3 weeks left before the event, we thought we’d better venture out and do a longer cycle ride out. With hills. According to the training plan we should be doing our longest rides this and next weekend. The weather forecast was not good in the afternoon (torrential rain), so alarms were set for 8 a.m. on a Sunday (unheard of!) and for once I did not press snooze, snooze, snooze.

We were out by around 9 a.m. for our longest, hardest ride for 11 months. A circuit of 31 miles including some unwelcoming hills. According to my Strava cycling app last time out we did the same route it took just about 3 hours. I also remember feeling pretty terrible and whinged and moaned the whole way round. And ached like mad afterwards. So was definitely hoping to have improvement in time and fitness this time around.

The hills were still pretty horrible, but I whinged less and pedalled more this time. We managed to do the circuit in 2 hours 35 mins. Yay! Once home, I have to admit to feeling a touch jaded and fell asleep on the sofa for most of the F1 from Spa on the TV. Ah well, it was Sunday after all.

The weather forecast this week is still terrible so will try to get some more miles in somehow, plus have another long ride next weekend. Of course all this cycling is not just for fun 🙂  it’s about raising funds for The Prince’s Trust. Since 1976, they have helped over 80,000 young people realise their dream of working for themselves through their Enterprise programme – helping to start all sorts of businesses from beauticians to barbers and digital agencies to dog grooming.

If you’d like to support the cause, you can do so here.  Until next time!

Summertime and the training is easy … not! 5 weeks to go

This Sunday we actually had a day that resembled summer, unusual to experience with our variable four-seasons-in-a-day British climate.

We have worked out a 23 mile cycle route from home that is mostly roads (yay!) and quite a few hills (boo!) but I am trying to learn to love hills! I do like them when I am at the top, at least as it’s heavenly to cycle (roll) down them!

We (the man and me) had planned to get up early on Sunday to do our training ride avoiding the forecast heat, but somehow we didn’t manage to get out until nearly midday so by that time it was hot, hot, hot!

I am not very good in the heat, never have been. It seems to have started when I was in Primary School and our class went to do a country dancing display at the Buckinghamshire County Show (how very British!) on a boiling hot day. Sadly I ended up with heatstroke as it seems that my pale English, freckly skin does not much like activity in the humid British heat!

I know this is potentially an issue if the day of the ride dawns and it is super-hot, so I have to push through it. So push through it I did by drinking loads of fluids on the way round which definitely helped. Knocked 5 minutes off the previous week’s cycle time at just under 2 hours, which is pretty okay considering the heat!

Made it!

Made it in the heat!

When we go home we went for a “cool down” (code for cycle to the local pub for a drink in the sun) but the closest pub garden was already full, so we cycled on to the next one. This meant we upped our miles more than we were expecting. Total cycle ride: 30 miles – 23 at a reasonable pace, 7 very slow! On the last couple of miles, I was definitely ready to be home.

This week coming is a busy one – so will be tricky to do any training, but will try to fit something in.  It’s all for a great cause – to inspire young people. Almost a million young people are not in education, employment or training in the UK. The Prince’s Trust need your help to tap their potential and build their confidence. The results can be amazing. Have look here if you have a moment: http://www.princes-trust.org.uk/support_us/lewis_cassidy.aspx

Thank you for your financial and/or moral support to this cause!

https://www.justgiving.com/Andrea-Davis2015/