Monday, June 24, 2013

The Plan calls for.....

Over the last few months my life has been governed by * The Plan * , a 12 week guide to getting into shape for the London 100 ride in August where I have been persuaded by my son to put my aged body on the line and cycle 100 miles around  the London Olympic Road Race route, a distance which I am still trying to come to terms with and one which I have not dared to imagine.

The Plan has dictated my life, and given that after the end of  Week 1 you were supposed to cycle 40 miles, it obviously assumed some sort of prior fitness, something which I sadly lacked. So, for me, I started the Plan much earlier in order to attempt to get into shape in order to Begin the Plan.

Every day, I have cycled when instructed, rested when instructed, ate when instructed and consumed vast amounts of Cycling Food On the Go.  Indeed I have produced a booklet of Recipes for Cyclists which is available free with any donation to the Mental Health Charity Mind. Please support me!

There have been one or two sacrifices that I have had to make in order to train for this challenge, such as the complete abandonment of domestic chores, gardening control, car cleaning ( though bike cleaning IS called for in The Plan ), shopping ( except for ESSENTIAL cycling stuff of which there seems to be an incredible amount ) and other mundane tasks.

However, The Plan has hit a buffer. An ultimatum from my wife that I either mowed the lawns or bought a sheep

Now I have considered this proposition very carefully but on going to visit some prize specimens have decided that those horns could inflict a lot of damage to the gleaming paintwork on my bike..and so the lawns have been mown.

This interlude apart, I have continued to build up the miles and so far the statistics stand at

Total distance cycled this year = 3685 km

Total ascent climbed = 27267 m

and I can now comfortably accomplish rides of 110km+ but the longest journey remains at 126 km, and indeed the plan does not suggest going further than this so as to dangle a carrot on the day to achieve the 162 km required. ( Having said this I have now been told that there is a Neutral Zone prior to the start which is another 3 km, hope this is not the straw to break the camel's back )

This week The Plan calls for a firm focus on climbing. Now I hate hills, and much more to the point, hills hate me with a venom that cannot be imagined. So, I need to give myself a target. A height to cumulatively ascend during this week. I thought of just picking a number at random, which according to some of my friends ought to be a number between 10 -50 m and whilst I would tend to agree with them, they are Flat Landers and I have doubts it would prepare me for the monsters of Box and Leith Hills. So, I have settled upon a figure of 1912 m, the height of Mont Ventoux, a climb which has a special significance to all english cyclists. It is also about the same total that will have to be conquored on London100, though in that case the total gradient will be spread over 162 km and not the mere 22km of the legendary mountain.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I think I may have done something a tad stupid.....

One of the great things about cycling is that you get to meet new people and they are willing to invite you to their part of the country and take you on some of their favourite rides. My last post talked about the long  road back from a period of illness and whether to take it gently or just jump straight back in. In the event I managed to strain my back gardening since the last post and this caused a further hiccup to the training programme.
I had arranged to go on a 100 km ride around Rutland, a beautiful county that I had never previously explored by bike with Kevin and it seemed foolish (?) to let a little thing like a strained back, still recovering from man flu and lack of cycling spoil the venture..I suppose I thought the absence from cycling could be called tapering.  And so we went, and I have to say that Kevin was a great guide and it is true to say that without him encouraging me and shepherding me home I would never have completed this trip and would have recorded my first ever DNF. This is the story of my ride

The day started fine and sunny the only slight hiccup being that I could not find the cap to my second 500ml water bottle so decided to manage with just the one and so dropped a Nunn tablet into it to ensure I had a back up of electrolites

We did the entire ride without stopping and I fuelled the energy expenditure by eating one flapjack and one Kellog's Elevensees bar, plust 5 jelly babies.

The weather was hot, very hot and according to Kevin's Garmin we climbed a total of 4450 feet, many of it with gradients between 12-19%

After 30 km my water bottle was empty so we stopped at a pub and asked if they could fill it up, which they kindly did.

After 50 km all my food had been consumed and it was getting ever hotter and the hills kept coming. The scenery however was magnificent and we saw a peregrine falcon hunting over Eyebrook reservoir.

After 60 km I started getting a saevere cramp in my left thigh, and it was really painful, especially as the gradients were not letting up despite my imprecations. However the pain from this was soon dwarfed by the cramps which started to occur in my right calf muscle.. At this time we had turned into strong head winds too and the elements were showing their power and beauty as we passed under Harringworth viaduct

After 70 km the pain was so acute, the water bottle empty, that I stopped at a shop and bought a packet of salted peanuts with the aim of getting some salts back into my body and also refilling the water bottle.

After 80 km my stomach was really empty, to such an extent that it caused discomfort. However this was soon drowned out by the pains from both my thigh and calf which were now working in unison to torment me.

After 90 km, pedalling rythmically was beyond me and it was push a few strokes on the pedal before free wheeling a little to let the pain subside. though this proved difficult when going uphill and continuous hill starts is not good at the best of times.

At 100 km I was glad to have reached the finish point and rapidly wolfed down a banana I had left n the car as a recovery food. Boy, how I needed it!
I have learnt a number of lessons from this ride.
Take more food. Save up for another water bottle. Carry a spare Nunn tablet
Without Kevin's support over the last 40 km I doubt whether I would have finished.

But despite these minor travails, it really was a great day out. The scenery was magnificent and I have now explored another part of the English countryside.

I am putting myself through all this so I can attempt the challenge of the London 100 mile ride this August around the Olympic Road Race route. And I am doing this to raise money for the mental health charity Mind.

If you would like to support this very worthwhile cause by sponsoring me then you can do so at

As an incentive to sponsor me, as a thank you for every donation, however small, I will send you a free pdf booklet entitled

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

These recipes have been provided by people from around the world and each recipe comes with alittle story of why it was special to the author.