I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again – A Collection of Firsts

Hello fellow humans,

It’s been a little while since I’ve given you an update, so I thought I should probably reassure you that I haven’t thrown in the towel, sold the bike and bought the wardrobe* I was after in the first place

*Wardrobe status remains negative – plz send furniture to the following address:
Give Louise’s Clothes A Home
North London
LDN
UK

That should do it.

So what have I been getting up to over the last 2 months?!

Well, Birtie and I have been getting along quite well, we’ve travelled to exotic places such as Potters Bar *ooh*, High Barnet *aah* and Sewardstonebury *is that a real place?* (yes Google it). On a side note how exciting is it reaching the end of the tube line you frequent (shout out to the High Barnet branch of the Northern line)?! Just me? Moving on…

The miles have been building, and I was particularly pleased to recently exceed the 100 mile mark in a week. Now, for any regular cyclist this is no feat I am well aware, and YES I know that’s sort of over 7 times too long compared to what will have to happen on RideLDN day, however it was a satisfying metric to see when I opened Strava ok.

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Cash me doing a century howbowdah

We were hit by a barrage of punctures on one ride (3 on the same wheel of the same bike I think constitutes a barrage), so there has been a rapid increase in mechanical ability (think I’d still have a panic if I punctured on my own, mind). This also led to comments such as ‘I’m over this’, over what? The ride? Puncture repair? Cycling on the whole? All of the above. HOWEVER, we powered through, and upon reaching a cafe serving up delicious and well earned food, the memories of being covered in oil on the side of the road were swiftly (mostly) forgotten.

Brunchpuncture

Left: Puncture no. 1 – photo credz to Anna (do not judge our technique please ok) Right: The sort of food that removes traumatic puncture-related memories and the pain in your legs

Now so far none of this has really addressed the title has it? “What are these firsts?” I hear you cry.

1. Knockdown

This one is not the most positive, but is possibly an unfortunate right of passage for cyclists. After riding through torrential rain to take Birtie for a service at his birthplace Decathlon Surrey Quays (do not get lost in the rain it will make you very sad), I returned a couple of days later to pick him up, happy to be reunited. Unfortunately, about a mile from home I had a little altercation with an unapologetic taxi driver and ended up on the floor. Now this was a very minor crash by most standards, but a little traumatic nonetheless. Thanks goes to the passerby who ran after the taxi, stopped him, and had a go on my behalf. I was a little (a lot) too shaken up to have said anything of worth, so merci. Also cheers to the nice lady who picked me up off the pavement. When things go wrong, and people are horrible, it is nice to have your faith in humanity restored by strangers who are more than happy to help.

Onto the more positive and life affirming firsts…

2. Drink up look sharp

Right this one probably seems ridiculous, but it was something I’d been worried about. When on long rides it’s obviously super important to keep yourself hydrated (and well fed), and you don’t want to have to stop every 10 minutes to achieve this, thus therefore ergo being able to drink from your bottle or ‘bidon’ #cyclelingo on the move is important, especially for a sportive where you’re not stopping at convenient traffic lights all the time! After laps in Regent’s Park I thought I’d have a go as I headed off for work (picking a road with no traffic – safety first), and to much jubilation, I succeeded. I think I did a little fist pump in the air afterwards, then proceeded to cycle down the road repeatedly taking out and replacing my bottle, which to be fair, probably looked pretty strange. If you saw me last Thursday there’s the explanation for my actions.

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Yeah dis me

3. Everest

Later that day (good to save all achieving for one day isn’t it) it was glorious weather, so I decided to take a longer/convoluted route home to make the most of the sunshine. When I was nearly home I thought maybe, just maybe, this was time to attempt something that had been on my list of achievements to achieve. Swain’s Lane, a name familiar with cyclists and runners alike is a rather hilly hill, sufficiently hilly to be number 27 in the Official 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. Whilst I’d ran (crawled) up it a fair few times, I was yet to make it up by bike, with the last run up dominated by thoughts of the fact this MUST be far too steep for two wheels, and anyone who claims they have must be lying on Strava.

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Swain’s – it must be noted I took this on a run last year, not during my first ascent w’bike. Too busy trying not to die to have my phone out.

Anyway, the end of a long and hot day was in my eyes the perfect time to try, as I figured this gave me a plethora of excuses should I need to get off and walk. For anyone unfamiliar with the climb, it’s gradual at first, then gets worse until the steepest section past the gates to Highgate Cemetery at the top. It’s also noting that it (the top section anyway) is one way, so once you’ve started, there’s no turning back. As soon as I turned the corner onto Swain’s my brain immediately told me this was a bad idea, I was not going to make it, but as explained, no turning back. I kept going, the easier section over fairly rapidly, then the corner, my legs were already unhappy by this point and the voice in my head once again saying this was impossible. HOWEVER, somehow, the legs kept turning and I made it to the top, a massive grin on my face and probably as red as a tomato but I had DONE IT. A wise and wonderful friend once told me that your mind gives up long before your body does, and if Swain’s is anything to go by, that’s got to be true. Mental strength and resilience is something I know I need to work on, to quieten that voice of ‘you can’t’ and replace it with ‘you can and you WILL’ – that’s probably the only way I’ll get up the hills in RideLDN…

“…your mind gives up long before your body does…”

So there you have it, firsts firsted, total miles ridden stands at 643.2 miles and another first coming imminently – tune in next time for when I’ve (probably against my better judgement) attached myself to my bike in #CleatGate.

Thx for reading, and as per, if you have a couple of quid in your pocket I’d be eternally grateful if you’d visit my fundraising page and help my efforts to raise 500 big ones for Refuge, because domestic violence is horrible and Refuge are fantastic. Literally however small the donation, I’ll be super thankful!

LP xox


What is RideLondon?

Who am I raising money for?

How did I get into this mess to start with?

Group Riding

So I’d be riding about by myself, getting to work occasionally and in general avoiding being hit by a car, which I considered overall positive.

The next step was apparently to ride in a group, I’d been told this was more fun, was this true? Only one way to find out.

The challenge of finding a group to ride with is definitely finding something that matches your ability level, now even though the bib shorts were giving me delusions of grandeur (see previous post), I was no pro. I am no pro. I will likely not turn pro in the near future. Another factor is that a lot of cycling clubs around want you to become a proper member, complete with fees and an overall feeling of just being a bit serious. This said, nothing wrong with these clubs, just not sure they were right for my current cycling infancy.

I’d been told about a club called Dirty Wknd, which didn’t make you become a member, and ran designated beginners sessions. This, along side the lack of vowels in the second word, appealed, so I thought I’d check it out. There was an upcoming beginners session in Regents Park, and as that was pretty near my house I thought I’d give it a go! (Another bonus, your first ride is free, so nothing to lose)

Now, I’d heard the rumours about the outer circle at RegeyP, I knew cyclists loved it, and a lot of them headed there. As I turned onto it on that Saturday morning, I was suddenly pretty concerned I’d accidentally invaded the Tour de France, as bikes raced round in tight packs. Thoughts:

  • Oh no.
  • This was a bad idea.
  • I do not want to partake in the Tour de France please.
  • Why are they so close together?
  • Need more lycra.
  • Is that Bradley Wiggins?
  • Is it too late to just go home?

Anyway, upon persevering I found the Dirty Wknd guys, and my pro-cyclist-peloton-related worries were soon quelled. As this was a beginners session it started with a little chat about how to ride in a group, what the hand signals people use mean, what to shout instead if you’re a fresher like me who fails at taking your hands off the handlebars etc. We then headed out like animals headed for the ark to do our laps of Regents Park. Thoughts:

  • These people are so nice.
  • This is not the Tour de France.
  • It is nice to have a chat while you’re riding isn’t it.

Following this, I did another Dirty Wknd ride in Richmond Park, which was flipping WINDY. This was also my first real experience of having to climb up a hill, which was a gear-related learning curve. Top tip: Big ring + hill = bad idea. Again, it was great fun! Riding with people means lots of chat to be had, but also for people like me with very little experience, a lot of helpful advice! Like anything, riding with people better than you will in turn help you to get better. By the end of the ride, which at about 24 and a half miles was the furthest I’d ever ridden in one go, I’d figured out how to be in mostly the right gears to climb a hill (thanks to various people’s help) and got a lot of pointers about RideLondon itself from people who had done it before.

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Because as we all know, the natural accompaniment to cycling = cake

Put simply, I got it, I understand why people are riding about in groups. After the above rides I’ve done 2 gloriously sunny and lovely rides with a couple of people I met through Dirty Wknd, one to Epping Forest and one south into Kent/Surrey from Crystal Palace. We’ve already got an idea of where we’re heading next so there will be more to report on!

 

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Clockwise from top left: Westerham, Surrey; drinks stop at Botley Hill Farmhouse – Warlingham, Surrey; High Beech, Epping; a road most likely in Kent.

Points to summarise:

  • Training actually going OK
  • Actually liking it guys
  • Got tan lines

Final point, the reason I’m doing all this is Refuge (see my Charity Post), if you feel at all able, however small the donation, I’d be super super grateful for any contributions to my fundraising efforts! Thankyouthankyoupleaseandthankyou.

LP x


If you’re looking for a group to ride with and Dirty Wknd sounds interesting…click HERE to find out more. (No I’m unfortunately not on any commission I’m just a fan ok)