How Do You Du?

London Duathlon

Ello.

It’s been a while hasn’t it. The main reason for my absence is a general lack of excitement when it comes to my sporting activities.

To be completely honest, of late I’ve been in struggle city when it’s come to partaking in any form of exercise. I’m in theory ‘training‘ for a 10K at present, however a new job + winter just turning up out of NOWHERE have rather got in the way, and said ‘training‘ has consisted of very sporadic runs and not much else.

Don’t get me wrong, every time I’ve got out for a run I’ve been rejoicing that this has occurred, however somehow motivation and energy have been severely lacking.

If anyone has any tips on how to shock yourself back into routine, PLZ get in touch.

Regarding my old and dear friend BirtieBae the bike, we have not been seeing as much of each other as either of us would like, however distance has made the heart grow fonder. I spent a few hours in the rain with very cold toes in Richmond Park a couple of weeks ago and it was unnaturally joyous.

Richmandy

Big time soggy bottom – still smiling

Now. What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated, a bit slovenly and without purpose? YES. THAT’S RIGHT. The only answer is returning to my old habit, signing up for things I don’t know how to complete.

For anyone that has been following my conversion from fitness-adverse to accidental enthusiast, you’ll know that 2016 was the year of running, 2017 (well the post-February pre-job move bit) was the year of the bike, so where does that leave us for 2018? Well it’s time for swimming…no. It’s time for doing both together isn’t it! Yep ok so, 2018, I’m signed up for the London Duathlon.

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-09 at 10.51.23

Send help.

Filling out the application form was all the joy you would imagine. Questions that make you think you’re completely ill-equipped for what you’ve decided to do. Are you an experienced triathlete/duathlete? Umm lol yep yep course. What’s your predicted finish time? I would like to have a finish time yes.

Here’s the breakdown:

10K Run – Ok fine

44K Ride – Yes can do

5K Run – Basically Year 9 cross country

I have now realised that while these components individually seem OK, matters might be different when they’re in succession. Upon reflection approx 15 minutes after signing up, I realised that I’ve never ran 15K in the same day, let alone with a cheeky 44K in the saddle in the middle. Technically I could have made this easier for myself…the half duathlon, marketed to be nice and entry level, suitable for people doing their first multisport event, was negated. On what basis?…Too sprinty. Don’t like 5Ks…so…just one after running 10K and cycling 30 miles is better…right? Right!? #Logic*.

*This is not logic kids do not do as I do please save yourselves.

Feedback on the fact I was signed up from friends and family was mixed, varying from overwhelmingly positive to borderline insulting.

Hello

Thank you. Sort of.

Anyway. There’s a lot of training to be done. I’ll probably* cry. I’ll probably eat a lot. I’ll probably stress out a bit (advanced apologies to those on the receiving end). But – I hope anyway – the #RoadToLondonDuathlon will be a good one, there’ll be some hard work on the horizon, but, let’s hope it’s still a bit of fun eh.

*Definitely, not even going to pretend.

Watch this space, another adventure cometh.

(Hit me up if you know how to be a duathlete because I don’t have a clue k thx)

LP xox

Advertisements

RideLondon – As it happened

RideLondon

If you’ve been anywhere near any social media of mine recently, you just might have noticed that Sunday, 30th of July, was the big day. RideLondon had arrived.

This came exactly 160 days after purchasing a bike, and with exactly (approximately) 1157 miles in the (saddle) bag according to Strava. Everyone had been asking me in the couple of weeks leading up to the big day, do you feel ready? And the honest answer was, no. Absolutely not. But that wasn’t going to stop me trying.

Aims for the days were as follows:

  1. Do not get caught by the sweep vehicle (make the 8.5 hour cut off)
  2. Do not crash
  3. Do not walk up any of the hills
  4. Do not get a puncture

I was feeling more confident about some of these aims than others, but you’ll see how I got on (such a tease I know).

So, the big day. Whilst my starting wave was a lot later than most (8:28am), this still meant a fairly early morning! The alarm went at 5, and after getting changed, bibs on, world championship socks on (motivation), other clothes for decency on, I was out the door at 5:45 with porridge in my belly and heading for Highbury and Islington for my train down to Stratford.

Kit, morning, waiting.jpg

From left to right: Kit selection for the day, kit on bod, waiting at the Olympic Park.

What ensued was an awful lot of waiting, waiting at the station – nervy small talk with other riders, waiting for our wave to start loading – nervy small talk with other riders, drinking a double espresso (yes really), waiting in the loading pen, waiting moving closer to the start line…you get it, there was a lot of waiting around.

Finally this was it, somehow I was right at the front of my wave so was right on the starting line, and with a sound of a horn we were off at exactly 8:28 (kudos to the excellent organisation by RideLondon themselves). This was what I’d been training for and we were finally on the road!

Start Line combined.jpg

From left to right: The start line itself, my mug on the start line.

The first 30 odd miles flew by (minus a quick stop for a wee in Richmond – too much early morning waiting), I’d been far more organised than I normally am with my food (performance wise definitely made a difference!), with energy bars chopped up ready for me to grab every half an hour or so, new top tube bag doing a stellar job (game changer – if you’re having long days in the saddle and find extracting food from jersey pockets a little challenging on the move, thoroughly recommend).

As we headed out of London and into Surrey I knew West Byfleet was coming up, and I was looking forward to hopefully spotting the brass ensemble I was part of growing up playing on the course. Luckily I timed my passing with a time they were in action, (I heard them before I saw them!) so managed to get a wave in to Surrey Advanced Brass half way through a rendition of Eye of the Tiger. Great job guys, I’m sure a lot of the other riders enjoyed the boost your music gave!

Not long after I reached my first planned stop, mile 38 and Pyrford, water topped up, little sit on the floor and texts to confirm I was still doing ok sent, I was back on the road. As I headed off I was feeling a little nervy, as we were about to enter the hilliest section of the course. First stop of note – mile 48 and Newlands Corner, then Leith Hill at 55 and Box Hill at 60, with a few others thrown about in between. I’d been out to Newlands before so knew what to expect with that one, however, the day I was meant to test out all the others I was in bed with food poisoning, so was just going to have to wing the others!

Feed Station 1

Bikes, bikes everywhere!

Newlands Corner was a different experience to the day I did it fighting cars, this time the bikes were the issue! A lot of traffic over all over the road gave the added challenge of weaving around people to keep moving forward, the whole ‘faster on the right, slower on the left’ concept seemingly abandoned on this one. A lot of shouts of ‘on your right!’ and ‘on your left!’ later, and one new friend gained, a man in his 60s who I bumped into about 3 more times through the Surrey section, hill no. 1 was over, and I wasn’t feeling too knackered.

As we approached Leith Hill, my mind was full of the various bits of chat people had given me about this one:

“It’s much worse than Box Hill”…“It’s not that long, well actually it does go on a bit”…”It’s fairly straight, apart from the corner”…”It’s quite hard work”…”You think it’s over and it kicks up again”

I knew this was going to be the biggest test of original aim no. 3, no walking up hills. I was pleasantly surprised to have seen many people already abandoning their bikes for a walk up Newlands Corner, giving me the impression I wasn’t the worst hill climber in all the kingdom, something fairly reassuring.

Now, maybe I’m just a cycling fresher with a heavier bike than some and legs that are not made of steel, but Leith was HARD. I did indeed keep thinking it was over when it was not, and I was glad to be blissfully unaware how long that was going on for, because if I had known, I’m fairly confident I would have abandoned ship in the early stages, not believing I could make it to the top. A nice reminder that once again, mind gives up well before the bod does (that quote from @JessFaw that keeps coming back).

Getting to the signs at the top of Leith confirming that indeed, this was actually the top, was a wonderful moment, leaving me feeling on top of the world county. It is the highest point in Surrey don’t you know. I was SUPER pleased and felt like that was it, hard work over, I’ve basically done ride London now cool (45 miles to go…).

Next challenge – Box Hill, this, as a result of being in the London 2012 Olympic Road race, has gained far more infamy than it probably deserves. I’d been reassured by the famous  Glaswegian words of my friend Anna, that Box is in fact, “a piece of piss”.

Anna Box

Anna letting her actions speak louder than words on the day.

Turns out she’s right. Maybe it was as a result of coming after Leith, but weirdly, I really enjoyed Box Hill. The road surface is incredible (thank you Olympics #olympiclegacy #inspireageneration), it zig zags about so for a moment you think you’re nailing an alpine climb, and there are lovely views of the Surrey Hills, all while being a very manageable gradient.

Towards the top of Box I realised I had punctured. Cool. So at the summit (metres from the top of the Strava segment gah Louise why) I set about sorting that out, somehow managing to avoid replacing my back wheel myself, by stopping near the mechanics van, so was not completely covered in oil for the rest of the day. In a weird way, I was actually quite glad I punctured…hear me out. This was something I was irrationally worried about happening (in the early stages of training I was SURE if I punctured I wouldn’t make the time limit), however the fact it happened, and wasn’t really an issue, was good news indeed.

Louise Box

Got a flattie. Apolz for stolen photos.

Water refilled and I was on my way again, coming out of the hills and onto flatter terrain things were going along nicely, with the prospect of maybe see ing my parents in Kingston at mile 85 on my mind. Even with some technological failings, Mum and Dad spotted me, and I spotted them, which spurred me along as I entered unchartered territory in terms of mileage, and began to think reaching the finish line was a reality.

Final blip to overcome was Wimbledon Hill, not a difficult climb (or climb at all) by anyone’s standards, but falling at mile 92 it was a short test of the legs, driven on by the cheering crowds, a big help!

From then on it was downhill to the finish, you could see it on everyone’s faces at this point that it was nearly over, paces were beginning to quicken and smiles were exchanged as the adventure was nearly over. A bonus spot of a couple of friends from work in Vauxhall made the last few miles even more pleasureable. Coming back into central London the crowds grew, the sights came into sight and the Mall beckoned. Down past Westminster, round the corner and that was it, the red tarmac of the finishing straight. Being the emotional human I am I was trying to hold back the tears to avoid ruining the official photos. Listening to the crowds and heading down towards Buckingham Palace is not something I will forget anytime soon, embarrassing fist pump across the line (#sorrynotsorry – maybe I did win a stage of the Tour de France who are you to say I didn’t) done and it was all over. Finished in 7 hours and 10 minutes. And the medal was large. And then I had a picnic.

Finish Combined.JPG

DID IT – Just being stereotypical holding my bike in the air because when in Rome right.

Summary of aims:

  1. Do not get caught by the sweep vehicle (make the 8.5 hour cut off)
  2. Do not crash
  3. Do not walk up any of the hills
  4. Do not get a puncture – MADE THIS A POSITIVE IT’S OK

It was a journey and a half but I loved it. In the 5 months since my foray into cycling began I’ve been introduced to new joys, new pains, new kit, new friends, new failures and new successes, but it’s all been amazing. At the same time, fundraising for Refuge has been an absolute JOY, I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to do something like this, to raise a little money to help their incredible work. Current total is £690, particular shout out to the mystery donor who gave 100 big ones and is calling themselves Sir Bradley Wiggins. Whoever you are, and I have no idea, thank you! If you’ve been meaning to and have forgotten, or feel a sudden wave of generosity, let this be my last plug for doing a little to make a big difference to those who have suffered domestic violence pretty please and thank you – click here to donate 🙂 THANK YOU

As a side note, if you’re somewhat intrigued to do something similar, be it get on a bike for the first time ever/a long time, put yourself into the ballot for RideLondon or a completely unrelated physical challenge, if you’re anything like me maybe you have doubts whether you’re strong enough, fit enough, brave enough, basically anything-enough, let me reassure you, you are. I don’t write any of these things to make it look like I did an impressive thing – nearly 25,000 other people did the same that day, I ain’t special, but I hope it is maybe a little encouragement, that with a little bit of determination, some supportive mates who tell you you are not mad and that you can do it, a lot is possible. GO FOR IT BECAUSE YOU CAN! (Happy to chat if you want me to tell you you can in person)

Another side note is that if you are London (or Bristol, they’ve expanded and to the greatest of cities!)-based and want to get involved in cycling with a fun and supportive group of people, I can’t recommend going for a ride with Dirty Wknd enough. Genuinely not sure what I would have done in terms of getting enough miles in without their great rides and great bants.

So all that is left for me to say, is a big thank you. Thanks to everyone who has donated, you’re all gems. Thanks to everyone who’s ridden with me, wished me good luck, told me they’re proud of me, or just offered some kind words on the days I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew, I couldn’t have done it without you guys and I’m so grateful!

Only one question remains for me I guess…What next?


Wow I spent ages reading that and now want to do it too → Enter the ballot for 2018 here

Wow Refuge sounds top qual but I hate bikes, how else can I get involved? → Find out how here

Wow I deserve a medal for getting through that monumental essay → Click here for your virtual medal

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

RideLondon

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.

IMG_9476

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.

v8bAj5gK5QuNW.gif

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.

Swainoz

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?