Given how much I’ve been banging on about it recently, I think it’s about time I gave my cycling challenge a more substantial introduction.
Next week I will be heading out to Munich with my bike and making my way, with a group of cyclists, to Venice via a rather ‘impressively undulating’ Alps route.
My uncle invited me to join his team as they’d had a drop out and there was room for a little one. As I’ve been doing a fair bit of riding this summer I was immediately excited by the opportunity to challenge myself further. This was only about a month ago so I haven’t had very much time to prepare, but I’ve been putting in as much training as I can. As well as my training, to succeed I’m going to need to call upon all my experience to help me through the tough 5 days.
Having had my bike less than a year, there’s perhaps not as much experience to draw from as I would have liked, but do not fear; I have actually done a charity bike ride before. When I was 12 I cycled 6 miles around a lake.
This weekend I managed to do a couple of good rides to get some last minute training in. They were good! So good, that I feel quietly confident that I will live to tell the tale of this epic journey. I’ve documented some of my key stats and learning’s below, should they be of interest.
Time: 3 hours
Nutrition: 1 banana, 1 TORQ Raspberry and apple energy bar, 1 TORQ Rhubarb and Custard Gel.
Water: 1 bottle
Bugs swallowed: 1
Hit the Wall: N/A
Time: 2 hours 26 mins.
Nutrition: 1 TORQ Raspberry and apple energy bar, 1 shot blok, 1 Orange MultiCarbo Energy Gel.
Water: 1 ½ bottles
Bugs swallowed: 2
Hit the Wall: Mile 20, with a bang.
Nutrition: When I hit the wall on day 2 and had no energy reserves to draw on, the orange energy gel hit my body the fastest to give me an immediate boost. The slower-release energy bars when taken on before I hit the wall seemed to do the trick as I didn’t feel the same exhaustion on Ride 1. Therefore I need to be taking on carbs more regularly: little and often.
Breathing: On the hills I have been tiring myself out by setting off too fast, and trying to maintain that pace as I climb. By slowing down I don’t hit the ‘pant’ level, so can maintain oxygen to my muscles and slowly but steadily keep myself going to the top.
I am also getting better at breathing in through my nose. 1 word: bugs.
Chaffage: I was suffering from this a few weeks ago so finally bought a new saddle which I fitted before the weekend. It’s a girly one so a bit bigger and comfier for our large behinds. However it’s ultimately just moved the chaffage to new places, that my chamois cream doesn’t seem adept at preventing. I have some reskin patches to trial this week, as that might just be my saviour next week. [You don’t mind me sharing this info do you? Sharing’s caring. Unless it’s chamois cream]
Brakes: Turns out Evans in Wandsworth probably aren’t the best people to get advice from on brakes. My disk brake pads are shot to bits and my current stopping time is ‘accident-inducing’ even on an ascent. They said my brakes would be fine for a ride down the Alps, but I don’t quite feel as confident as the 17 year old salesman did – he didn’t even break into the slightest sweat when I suggested my parents would be visiting him if I went off the edge of a cliff. I still don’t feel confident with his judgement so will be investing in some spare brake pads before I go, and with any luck he won’t be getting a knock on the door from Big Pete.
When push comes to shove: Obey rule number 5
T-8 days. You can sponsor me here!