Wild, Wet, Windy and Wintery

With a dislike for indoor training, despite the threat of rain and a moderate breeze, the great outdoors won my vote.

The weather forecast wasn’t great but it painted a more optimistic picture than was the reality!

Heavy rain, strong winds, debris on the roads, flooded roads, fields, cars……

Urgent tree felling to avert an accident….

And to top it all our planned stop at the fabulous Miserden Garden Centre Cafe (home to some amazing cakes) was shut.

Thankfully, The Carpenter’s Arms at Miserden had a warm welcome with it’s roaring log fires.

Despite the weather and the sense that we weren’t breaking any records today, I was thrilled to get a few Strava ‘Personal Bests’ which almost made it all worthwhile!

A Good Idea?

In my last post, a little ‘tongue in cheek’ I began to wonder why I ever thought this challenge was a good idea.

Having recovered from today’s training (more about that later), there are many reasons why this challenge is a good idea:

  • I’m supporting a fantastic charity The Cure Parkinson’s Trust which funds research which has the potential to slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s
  • I have Parkinson’s
  • The quest to find a cure, provides hope to over 10 million people worldwide, living with Parkinson’s
  • Hope is a precious gift
  • Exercise has been shown to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s
  • Five years after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, it is great to feel that such a huge challenge is within my reach
  • Along with the other people with Parkinson’s doing this challenge, we can perhaps inspire others to exercise (although not necessarily to such an extreme!)
  • Exercise is good for the mind, body and soul
  • I want to be a positive role model for my children
  • I have developed a LOVE of cycling
  • I am lucky to have wonderful friends to cycle with
  • Life is short, we should do what’s important to us while we can
  • I like to have a challenge
  • It’s fun!

Of Course it’s a Good Idea!

Mountains to Climb……

After each training session, I check my Strava data – distance cycled, elevation climbed, maximum speed, overall time spent out, time spent moving, etc, etc. Yes, I know, I’m turning into a geek!

This time, I also reviewed my stats since January 1st this year. As of 10th February, I had ventured out 17 times, cycled 809km, climbed 9333m and this has taken me 46.5 hours to complete. Some of these rides have felt extremely long and extremely hilly BUT for The Raid Alpine, over six consecutive days I’ve to cycle the same distance with twice as many hills. No rest days, no excuses and no recollection of why I ever thought this was a good idea!

And then there was one

Before the weekend storms draw in, John A, Roland, Caroline, John W. and I set out on a cycle together today. ‘Together’ being a term applied in the loosest possible way!

John W and I slogged our way to the top of Sudeley Hill, with gradients of up to 18% over 2.5km, then realised the others were nowhere in sight.

John A, worried by our disappearance, had gone all the way back down Sudeley Hill, looking for us, only to have to climb it all over again. I was touched by his concern and of course his desire to ensure that his Strava stats put him towards the top of this week’s leaderboard!

Work commitments determined everyone’s departure time, Roland first, while the rest of us enjoyed coffee and cake in Broadway. John A next, managing to increase his Strava stats further by finding himself almost in Evesham at one point!

Caroline peeled off at Stanway and John W did the same at Winchcombe. I took a slow pace up and over Cleeve Hill, due to the strong winds and arrived home mid afternoon.

Our Strava stats show us setting off together but taking different routes, at different speeds to arrive home at different times!

‘Together’ was definitely a term applied in the loosest possible way today!

Road Closed

If you’ve followed The Cyclopaths before, you will know that we view the ‘Road Closed’ sign as a challenge, rather than a warning……

Naturally, news that our favourite, Cleeve Hill has been closed to traffic for three weeks, made us immediately think – how wonderful it would be cycle the hill without a steady stream of fast cars passing us. I have enormous sympathy for all those drivers affected by the closure but on a purely selfish level, this was a cycling opportunity not to be missed…….

Road closure and not a car on Cleeve Hill. Passable by bicycle, so novel was the experience, we tackled the hill from both sides during our 65km ride.

In a Nutshell

Even I recognise that there is a limit to how many details I can post about cycle training without sending everyone to sleep.

So, in a nutshell, in between stormy winds, torrential rain, snow and ice, we have managed to find pockets of calm, dry(ish), warm(ish) weather in which to venture out on our bikes. The sun even shone for periods of time and we could be forgiven for forgetting we were amidst stormy weather warnings.

Clocking up another 130km was for the most part pleasurable and this morning we venture out again. This time, joined by Cyclopath Caroline (Cyclopath: a term of endearment, not a charachter assassination!) and John Wilkinson who is beginning to express a strong desire to join the Raid Alpine Team in the challenge in June. Let’s see if he’s still expressing the same desire when we get back this afternoon!

Mountains to Climb

Bad weather and curiosity got the better of me last weekend and so I subjected myself to an indoor training session on the turbo trainer.

Let’s be clear, I have absolutely no desire to train on a bike indoors. There is no company, no scenery, no breeze, the dog wants to join in and every minute seems like an hour. Let me out on the open roads any day!

Well, maybe not ‘any day’, 50mph winds rendered the weekend too dangerous to venture out, so I spent a hard hour taking the ‘Sufferfest 4DP Challenge’ in the hope that I might prove to be fitter and faster than the last time I tried it.

Despite giving it my all, my weighted average power increased only from 120w to 127w and I peaked at 36km/h rather than 35.3km/h. Figures that are hardly going to propel me up the Alps any noticeably quicker or easier!

Further analysis shows that I had more power on the short sharp bursts (anaerobic power), on my maximal aerobic power and on my functional threshold power. I can only imagine that this must be a good thing!

My neuromuscular power however has dropped a little. My immediate thought was this was perhaps not surprising, given that I’m training with a degenerative neurological condition. The power of the mind to create a story that is not based on anything factual! My detailed report suggests that I simply wasn’t paying enough attention and mis-timed my bursts of power!

I breathed a short sigh of relief before realising my report essentially said ‘needs to pay more attention and must try harder’.

Image Source: Cyclinglocations.com

No excuses, I know I have a proverbial mountain to climb as well as 24 actual mountains!

Guest Blog

What cycling has taught me about Parkinson’s Disease

By Paul Jones

Thanks very much to Alison, PD fundraiser and networker extraordinaire for letting me guest on her blog.

Cycling has always meant freedom to me. As a child growing up in 1970s Hemel Hempstead, cycling set me free to explore the world beyond home and family, into the beech woods and chalky slopes of the Chilterns. Freedom and self-reliance go hand in hand and, although I didn’t know it at the time, I realised that all it took to get me somewhere was a bit of effort and some food in my belly – engine and fuel supply combined. It was all down to me…I could just go…and so I went.

Through the 1980s cycling took me further and further out into the world, the freedom and self-reliance combination taking me and my mates on ever more ambitious rides. To Dorset, to Switzerland (yes, from Hemel Hempstead), to the French alps, Communist-era Hungary and university in Aberystwyth, west Wales.

The 1990s opened with a hair-raising introduction to biking through central London’s major junctions from my cycling girlfriend (and future wife) Sophie. Kids followed, strapped into seats on the back of our bikes for further two-wheeled adventures in France and Suffolk, where we made our home.

So what has this got to do with Parkinson’s disease?

Well, I’ve found the sense of freedom and self-reliance cycling has given me is helping me face Parkinson’s. I still cycle frequently and though the distances are smaller and the gradients kinder, it remains a liberation and reminds me that though I can’t alter the reality of PD, I remain free to choose how I react to it. Self-reliance has made me take ownership of my situation, educating myself, talking with other Parkies, and doing all I can to keep the thing at bay. I’m still seeing the world on a bicycle; 2019 saw me ride to Amsterdam and, with Alison, around Kyoto during last year’s World Parkinson’s Congress.

I’m not planning to stop any time soon.