Back in the Saddle

Work very kindly intervened as for the first time in I don’t know how long there was no parking. Just the excuse I needed! Unfortunately there are no shower facilities where I work so cycling in wasn’t really an option, but home, well, that’s a different matter. So I’d taken Claudette in yesterday, left her in the Lace Market overnight, took the bus in this morning and at 5.45pm started my first cycle home adventure.

I took some time over lunch to work out the most traffic-free, safest route to the canal, dropping across Market Square and Maid Marian Way to the castle and down. Took me a few attempts to find the access point to the canal but I’m so glad I did! To be truthful, it was a bit scary being so close to the water, especially under the bridges where the paths narrowed and there was just concrete to my left, but that aside it was glorious!

It’s so lovely and peaceful by the canal, with lots of wildlife, but at points you’re right alongside a busy road and you’d never know it. And really, if I were a better cyclist, it doesn’t take long at all to get back to Chilwell.

Of course, I took a wrong turn, meaning I put on more miles then planned, and subsequently had to take the VERY steep route home from Depot Corner when I’d planned to come in through the green space. However, it was almost 8 miles in 1h19 and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In other news, I think the 25 miler got its revenge as I’ve been hungry enough today to chew my own arm off! Have managed to stay on plan but it’s certainly been challenging. Let’s hope it’s good news at the scales tomorrow

Success!

Having been simply too pooped yesterday, today I’ve summoned up the energy to write about my success in the Great Notts Bike Ride. 25 miles is by far and away the longest distance I’ve cycled to date (plus the mile or so cycle to/from the start line!) and to many people this would seem like the tiniest achievement but to me it’s colossal! It’s given me the most enormous sense of achievement and I am unbelievably proud of myself.

I have to be honest that the night before I slept terribly and was awake from 6am just feeling sick. The nausea continued all the way to the start line, and, to be honest, at various points through the ride, especially when I got too hot. For the first half the sun was beating down and there was barely any shade. I normally ride in an evening when it’s a lot cooler so I had no experience to deal with the heat of the day, and at midsummer too.

I managed to cycle all the way to the dreaded hills between Bradmore and Plumtree. Made it up the first then got stuck midway on the second, but amazingly bumped into Jo, one of the ride leaders from my accompanied cycle last week! She really helped me to get to the top of the third, mostly walking it has to be said, and the 8 mile feed station at Plumtree. Where I was cheered in by my sister, brother-in-law and nephews! They only live in the next village so I had specifically asked them to meet me there and what an amazing boost that was.

From there I headed off on the second leg which I knew was going to be tough as this would take me to and beyond the 11 miles of my longest ride to date. The hill at Cotgrave was horrendous but I finally made it and how amazing the downhill section was after that – really cooling and exhilarating to be actually moving at more than a snail’s pace. 13 miles was hard as I realised that though I had passed the half way point, I still had further to travel than my previous longest ride. Oh dear.

But I got another fantastic surprise about a mile from the second, 16 mile feed station at Cropwell Butler when I was frightened to death by a car. With my family above, PLUS my husband, who they’d been over to fetch, hollering and cheering me on! I’d expected to be completely on my own to the finish so how brilliant that now I had support? I guess I stayed longer at the feed stations than planned but it was so lovely to have the family there and the stretches between could be quite lonely.

So I set off on the last leg and had my only little disaster at about 17 miles when my chain came off. Luckily, I sort of knew what to do but a fabulous rider stopped and helped me. What kindnesses people show you in such circumstances. I’ll probably never see the guy again but I genuinely can’t thank him enough.

I finally hit my wall at about 19 miles. There were a few moments I was questioning whether I’d be able to make it but you just have to show resolve and get on with it. It felt quite bleak as the 3 routes converged with 5 miles to go and all the club riders having done 45/95 miles already were whizzing past me like I was just walking but we all start somewhere and I’d started just 42 days before!

Cramp hit initially with less than a mile left when I had to stop at traffic lights, then I finally made it back to the embankment with the finish line in site about 300 yards away, and just had to stop and beat up the offending leg twice as my inner thigh went into spasm! But finally, finally I made it – with my astounding family whooping and cheering as I crossed the line! And more congratulations from the work colleagues who had also completed the ride.

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I had imagined that I would feel elated but I was so so tired by then I probably looked really miserable! But genuinely the family completely made my day, I have no idea if I’d have been able to finish without them.

So, times. Well, I’m not going to worry the guys on Le Tour. My app clocked me at 25.19 miles in 4h57, but I had started it going quite a while before crossing the start line and never stopped it at all, so by my best reckoning, I was actually cycling (walking) for about 3h30. If I hadn’t dawdled at the feed stations and lost my chain, then maybe I would have made it in the 4 hours I wanted. But who cares? I finished it!

Things that have surprised me:

  • I found it really difficult to eat at the feed stations. Took me ages to eat a banana as it was making me feel sick
  • I thought I’d be ravenous at the end, but no, I wasn’t bothered about food at all. Made myself eat which was definitely the best thing, but still
  • Slept really badly again last night when I should have been zonked
  • Although my muscles feel tired today, I’m certainly not aching or stiff so I know my training at least was sufficient to avoid that!

I had a lovely Twitter message from Jo Ward, another of the Sky Ride leaders, then a smashing text from Wayne, my RideWise trainer when I texted him as requested to tell him how I’d got on. Cycling seems like a family and I’m loving it!

Oh, and to the idiot who leaned out of his car at Ruddington yelling “legs up fatty”. Screw you. I’m losing weight, I’m getting active. But you’ll always be stupid and ugly. And if I see your car again when I’m on my bike my pedals will be having a nasty accident with your paintwork. Asshole.

Training Over

Well, I’m just in from my last training ride, so that’s it. The next time I park myself on Claudette it’ll be the Great Notts Bike Ride on Sunday. Tonight I’ve just done a gentle 4.5 miles, mostly on the flat, having picked her up from a pre-event service. Had some troubles with my seat slipping but I guess that’s just been the opportunity for me to raise the saddle anyway, something I’ve been thinking I’m ready for for a little while.

Here’s some photos from a little sit down and ponder moment I had this evening at the amazing Attenborough Nature Reserve. I’m so lucky to live close to such a fantastic place. And now it’s easily cyclable!

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about progress and how far I’ve come in a very short time. Today is exactly day 40 since I picked up the bike and my fitness levels have improved amazingly quickly. I’m still not going to be able to do the Tour de France. or even the Tour de Yorkshire, but I’ve been looking back on some of those earlier rides and remembering just how ill I felt after a tiny 2 mile ride, admittedly in the cold rain.  It seems hard to believe that tonight I was comfortable to think of more than double that as an easy leg stretcher! I’ve been tracking my rides on my phone but have now started to convert them to one of my favourite things – a spreadsheet! I can begin to chart my rides to see my progress!

Terrific news for me at Slimming World last night after a, frankly, disappointing few weeks. I lost 2.5lbs and got Slimmer of the Week! I’m now at 39lbs in total, so there’s a lot of motivators to keep me on plan – just a pound away from 40lbs, 3 pounds from my 3 stone award and 6 to be down into another stone bracket. It really helps me to have small targets to aim for. With the amount I have to lose the only way to tackle it is in small pieces and therefore small victories. My one worry about this week is that with the bike ride I know I need to keep my energy levels up and as Wayne told me, I could use up to 2,000 calories on Sunday doing the ride. But I’m not Bradley Wiggins so the whole protein shakes, drinks additives thing is out for me. I am conceding that I may need something so I’ve bought some Nak’d bars and some flapjacks, but I’m hoping that bananas is going to be enough. I’ve pre-ordered food for after the event, just got to do my best to stay on plan but fuel my body sufficiently to perform and recover.

And I also started to think that I need something to aim for to motivate me. So, I’ve entered another event, a 35 mile Sportive – which apparently is a race! It takes place in September in the Peak District so I need to be on top of hills by then!