Testing, testing……

My mission this week was to cycle a total elevation of 3,700km from the vast range of Cotswold hills that surround us. On the 28th June for The Raid Local, I shall have to do this in one day.

I cycled six days out of seven. My training was to test a few things that will influence how successful I am on the day. Like all good test runs, there was some learning from this one….

Learning

  • We have hundreds of hills in the Cotswolds
  • Hills are hard
  • The more hills I climb, the harder they get
  • The harder they get, the slower I am
  • The slower I am, the longer it takes
  • The longer it takes, the more tired I get
  • The more tired I get, the more breaks I need

And herein lies the problem!

This week, I climbed 3,758km of elevation and it took me 16 hours (moving time). There is no allowance for stops at junctions, traffic lights, stops at the top of the hill, water stops, food stops, loo stops, rest stops or photo stops. Granted, I cycled 291km and we need ‘only’ do 137km for The Raid Local. So, if I remove 154km @ 25km/hr, that’s approximately 6 hours. If I add in 35% stop time to cover all of the above, that’s approximately 6 hours. Without allowing any time for the fact that as the day goes on, I’m likely to get slower, then I need approximately 16 hours to do the challenge.

Thankfully, a week after the longest day, the sunrises at 4.46am on 28th June and sets at 9.11pm. That gives me 16 hours and 25 minutes of daylight hours. Just enough…..if it all goes to plan!

An early start for me then……..

A Day with a Difference

Today’s ride was always going to be a little different. I had arranged to meet with Will Cook, the CEO of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, and Mike Tindall, a Patron of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust to do some hilly cycle training in preparation of the Raid Local which we are all taking part in.

It’s not every day, that I have the pleasure or pressure of cycling with the boss (best behaviour required), a sporting hero (best cycling required), having so many photos taken (best cycling gear required) and all during our socially distanced times (2m apart at all times required).

The rain and cold at the beginning of our ride ensured we were cold and wet before we even got on the road but the rain eased off soon after we set off to tackle those Cotswold hills. The pace was comfortable, the company was great. One advantage of being out with the boss and a patron of the charity was the invite from Charlie Ralph, the Chair of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust to visit his garden for homemade elderflower cordial and warm flapjacks. Given that there was a considerable hill to climb to get there, (you can’t get anywhere in the area without climbing a huge hill) this was a wonderful and very welcome first stop.

Great cycling some different hills. I had believed I had cycled every hill in Gloucestershire but apparently not! Great to help raise some publicity for the charity, great to clock up another 800m of climbing towards this week’s goal of 3,700m oh, and great to bump into Jamie Dornan in the car park as we finished our ride. Could he possibly be persuaded to join us for the Raid Local? If he doesn’t, it won’t be for the lack of us trying!

More training with these guys next week…….

An Occasion

On Monday, it will be exactly five years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I’d prefer to let the day pass by without reference to this fact but the day is imprinted on my memory and there is no hope of Monday, coming and going without my acknowledging this.

So, how could I mark my five year anniversary? I could wrap myself up in a day of (justifiable) self pity or I could tackle a 100 mile cycle with friends. Let me think for a nanosecond. Of course, I’m going with the latter.

There will come a day when I won’t be able to cycle but today is not that day!

What better way to ‘celebrate’ than with a 100 mile cycle, with friends, sunshine forecast, lockdown easing, summertime, beautiful countryside, laughter, exercise, the great outdoors. No time for even a fleeting sense of self pity. My kind of day!

Again & Again

Hills, hills and more hills……

I sincerely hoped I’d eventually learn to love them by now but……I’m still waiting for this to happen! Gloucestershire hills can be unforgiving: steep, sharp turns, uneven surfaces, gravel, pot holes, flood water, debris, branches, narrow lanes, to name a few of the hazards. So despite trying, I’m finding it difficult to find the love.

I do love my bike and love cycling and give me a quiet country road, slightly undulating, good road surface, where I can pick up a bit of speed, when the sun is shining and that’s where I find the love!

But with 18 days to go until the Raid Local, there’s still a lot of hills to conquer! A new one for me today – Bear Hill, with a maximum gradient of 30%……..Oh and in case that doesn’t finished me off, a few other hills totalling !,000m of climb. And still nowhere near the 3,700m climb I need to do on the 28th June……..

Wish me luck!

I once read that ‘You can’t be sad while riding a bike’. I couldn’t agree more but I can’t find any evidence that ‘You can’t be absolutely knackered while riding a bike’!

Raid Local Challenge

The Raid Local challenge is to cycle 137km and climb 3700m of hills on 28th June 2020, to raise awareness and funding for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. This is a colossal challenge for the fittest of cyclists. 137km is hard enough but add in hills totalling nearly half the height of Everest in a single day and you might begin to appreciate the scale of the challenge!

Have we gone mad? Quite possibly!

Why 137km?

This was the distance we were due to cycle on our postponed Raid Alpine challenge starting from Geneva on 28th June 2020.

Why 3,700m Elevation?

This was the total elevation we were due to cycle in the Alps on that first day.

Why? Why? Why? Why?

Because throughout the winter, in the rain, cold, sleet, hailstones, wind and occasional pleasant days, we were out cycling up the hardest hills that Gloucestershire had to offer us to get fit enough for the challenge. We can’t let all that hard work go to waste!

Because The Cure Parkinson’s Trust supports vital research that provides hope for those of us living with Parkinson’s Disease, that there might one day be a treatment to slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s disease hasn’t stopped its relentless progression during the lockdown!

Because it’s exactly five years since my diagnosis of Parkinson’s and I want to prove to myself that I can do it!

Until an effective treatment is found, exercise is the only thing that has been shown to slow down the progression of the disease. If ever I needed a reason to get up and get moving, this is it!

What Next?

Watch this space………..more details to follow soon………..

A Sociable Cycle

After so many weeks of lockdown, it was truly wonderful to meet up again with some girlfriends for a socially distanced, sociable cycle. These girls can cycle far and fast but today there was an equal emphasis on cycling and socialising and I was reminded of how much I love:

  • The girls!
  • Their friendship
  • Their laughter
  • The joy of cycling without always feeling the need to compete!
  • Exercising my mind, body and soul
  • Reminiscing over some of our shared experiences and adventures
  • Our beautiful countryside
  • Miles of virtually traffic free roads
  • The relaxation
  • The sunshine
  • That whilst we all enjoyed a sociable cycle we’re already planning our next challenge……

I loved that today, cycling and chatting were of equal importance and a four hour ‘cycle’ consisted of just over two hours cycling and just under two hours chatting!! We did however cover 45 undulating kilometres at a reasonable pace which all credit to Julia she managed in a single gear! Great to be back with the girls!

Challenging Times

I’ve grown to love a challenge and I’m so disappointed not to be setting off on our Raid Alpine challenge this year to raise funds for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

So, I am delighted to be invited to do a local challenge on 28th June, the day we would have started The Raid Alpine challenge. It’s still in it’s planning stage, so details to follow but it’s certainly enough to keep me training hard for another few weeks……

Guidelines and Goals

After weeks of cycling solo, the government guidelines have changed and with the change, I’ve found a new motivation to clock up those miles. My goal? To cycle 300km this week with friends whilst keeping within the slightly more relaxed Covid exercise guidelines.

My first cycle of the week, was a 50km round trip in lovely sunshine with a friend. Mindful, relaxing and so lovely. Sitting uncomfortably in a field, two metres apart, for our ‘coffee’ stop, it was evident, it doesn’t really matter where you are, it is the people you are with who make it special.

Tuesday, I clocked up another 100km with a friend who we often refer to as Tigger because of his endless energy. Thrilled that I could keep up with him for much of the 100km and thrilled to have great company along the route.

A day to recover, then a cycle to and from The Jolly Nice to meet another friend. A wonderful route through Cotswold villages while we chatted. Only a slight easing of the restrictions on meeting people outside our own household but such a huge impact it has had on me to be able to meet up with friends again.

And finally for this week, to take me over my 300km goal, a 60km cycle with John in the late afternoon sunshine.

Clearly, there is much more to cycling than simply riding a bike! Thank you to all you wonderful people who helped me reach my goal and made this week so much fun.

Still Pedalling

Despite the inevitable postponement of The Raid Alpine Challenge, cycling has still kept us Cyclopaths busy this year.

This year, between us, we have:

Cycled 15,306k

Climbed 151,629 metres (17 times the height of Everest)

Spent 717 hours in the saddle

(Don’t underestimate the pain & discomfort!)

Cycled on 325 occasions

Cycled in rain, hail, Fog, wind, Floods, sunshine and under rainbows!

Cycled at Home and Abroad

Cycled with friends

And more recently, Cycled alone

Challenge or no challenge, we are fitter than we have ever been!