A Heart Warming Story

I met Jonny in Kyoto last year at the World Parkinson’s Congress. He too has Young Onset Parkinson’s and he cycles, so naturally, we’ve followed each other on Facebook and Twitter ever since! He recently tweeted this story and it brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart. I felt compelled to share it.

Jonny’s Tweet:

“Two years ago someone left a brand new road bike outside my house within a hand written message that said ‘Exercise is good for Parkinson’s.’ Many miles later I look back and will never forget that ultimate random act of the deepest kindness.”

You can find Jonny on twitter at: Jonny Acheson (@pdinfocus)

Thank you Jonny for sharing such a heartwarming story.

A Few Hills Too Many

A hilly ride yesterday with the Sunday morning group. Lovely company, glorious sunshine and a beautiful route but hilly and I found it really hard. No personal bests today and the rest of Sunday was a write off for me as it’s taken me 24 hours to recover! Doesn’t bode well for The Alps….! I have to remember last week felt great and was just as hilly and another 20km further. Completely unpredictable!

A Little More Training….

It doesn’t feel right to consider my last few rides as training. They have been in beautiful sunshine, with great company, fabulous cake stops and some of the most stunning countryside. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing. Getting faster and fitter is the added bonus!

1. To The Blue Zucchini in Tetbury (88km with 1011m Climb)

For the biggest slice of carrot cake ever!

2. To Chedworth Farm Shop (73km with 1033m Climb)

Possible the best ever Sunday morning ride. Most of the group, beautiful day, fast and fun!

3. To The Jolly Nice and The Lakes (87km with 904m Climb)

A fast ride out to The Jolly Nice to meet these lovely ladies for an early evening ride out to the Lakes and then a mindful cycle home in the evening sunshine along miles of quiet country lanes.

And Counting……

24 Days

A few days rest after The Raid Local and already we need a new challenge. A ‘Covid Compliant’ Alpine Adventure …….in 24 day’s time.

777km

Cycling 777km from Lake Geneva to Nice.

13,000

13,000 metres of climbing

Six Cols

  • Col du Telegraphie
  • Col du Galibier
  • Col de L’Iseran
  • Col d’Izoard
  • Col du Cormet de Roselend
  • Col de la Bonette

Five Cyclopaths

A Sunday Cycle

Great to be out with the Sunday Cycling group again.

A lovely route out to The Old Prison at Northleach. The company was great, the rain held off until the last ten minutes and the bacon sandwiches at The Old Prison were fabulous.

After two weeks away from my bike, the hills felt hard, so it was a pleasant surprise to find my Strava stats showed twenty-three personal bests and a new ‘Local Legend’ crown. Oh the joys…….and the pressure to keep this one!

The Peculiarities of Pedalling with Parkinson’s

When I learned that exercise is the only thing that has been shown to slow the progression of Parkinson’s, I started cycling, overcoming the numerous obstacles that Parkinson’s puts in my way.

Amongst many other symptoms, Parkinson’s affects my balance and coordination, causes dizziness, muscle cramps, dystonia, rigidity, stiffness, pain, slow movement, tremor, fatigue, poor posture and slowed reaction times. It affects my right side more than my left. The presence or absence of each of these symptoms, their severity and their duration are completely unpredictable.

Parkinson’s also affects my concentration, my memory and my ability to multi task. Those who cycle with me know never to rely on me for directions! On our LEJOG adventure, I once cycled eight miles around Tiverton, looking for a way out!

Exactly five years since my diagnosis, I am tackling an enormous physical challenge. To cycle 137km whilst climbing 3,700m of hills in one day. I have trained for this for nine months, in all weather.

This year alone, to prepare, I have cycled an average of 175km each week, spending 222 hours in the saddle and cycling up hills equivalent to five times the height of Everest.

I know from using a Wattbike, that 65% of my power output is generated by my left leg and 35% by my right leg. My posture is asymmetrical and this causes back, shoulder and neck pain. For long days in the saddle, I am making constant adjustments to try to correct these. I am bloody proud of my left leg for getting me up some impressively steep hills!

Parkinson’s causes problems with fine motor skills, so I have difficulty doing things like attaching my lights and Garmin to my bike. By the time I’ve pumped up the tyres (which can take several attempts), zipped up my jacket, fastened my shoes and helmet and put on my gloves, I’ve already overcome a number of challenges. However, as long as I am organised and leave myself enough time, I can be ready to set off with everyone else.

Image Source: Clipartart.com

Recently, my balance has worsened. Pushing off on my bike requires my concentration or I’ll be on the ground before I even get started. I need to concentrate on my balance and I sometimes find it harder when someone is cycling close beside me. If I drop behind my fellow cyclists, or ask them to give me some more space, it’s because I’m concentrating on staying upright, not because I don’t want to talk!

There is an etiquette to cycling in a group and each position in the group carries with it, specific responsibilities. This is important for safety of each group member but it is something that I cannot always be relied upon to comply with.

For example, a ‘turning right’ hand signal poses no problem for me. Try a ‘turning left’ hand signal and as soon I take my left hand off my handlebars, I can no longer control my bike! The cyclist behind me has to remember that a wobble usually indicates an imminent left turn!

Signalling to those behind me to warn them of potholes, obstacles or other dangers in the road is an important element of safe group cycling. However, my reaction time is slower than most. Those who cycle with me regularly know that by the time I’ve seen a pothole, taken action to avoid it, taken my hand off the handlebars, signalled and shouted to cyclists behind me, then it’s too late….I’m in the pothole! They know not to rely on me for such signals.

Image Source: Bikeyface.com

The timing and doses of my medication have become really important. I take more medication when I’m planning a long, hilly cycle. However, what I eat, when I eat, how I’ve slept and a number of other factors all influence how well my medication works. It is an art and not a science and it doesn’t always work as I have planned!

If my medication wears off, my speed, dexterity and even my thinking, reaction time, posture and balance can all be affected. Everything becomes harder, it’s like I’m cycling against the wind or wading through treacle. The tiniest incline feels like a mountain as my legs lose power and my mind becomes slow. I can’t remember which gear lever moves my gears up or down. I have to focus extremely hard to stay upright and brake effectively as my hands shake and dystonia causes my right hand to twist and move involuntarily. A rest, medication and jelly babies usually work after a short time but obviously I aim not to ever get in this state.

So, with my new bike, electronic gear shifters, meticulous timing of my medication regime and lots of practice, I cycle well. In fact I’m fitter and faster than I’ve ever been.

I am joined by a team of fabulous people, all of whom have trained hard and who will find this challenge one of the toughest they have undertaken. We will all push ourselves to the limit of our physical capabilities and the challenge will no doubt test our psychology too as we dig deep to continue to climb those hills long after each and every fibre in our our bodies has yelled ‘stop’.

Is it worth the effort, I have been asked? Absolutely! Cycling is good for my body and my mind. It helps me stay strong mentally and physically. I love being outdoors, the weather has been fantastic and our countryside beautiful. I love a challenge and I’m blessed with lots of friends who will cycle with me despite my poor group skills! I’m also blessed by the support of family and friends who don’t cycle but put up with my endless tales. Apologies to them, I have no intention of stopping cycling any time soon!

With a Little Help From My Friends

Cycling with friends is so much more fun than cycling alone and There are many wonderful people I cycle with regularly.

This post is a shout out and huge ‘thank you’ to the other lovely people who have joined me for the occasional cycle ride over the last couple of years.

To Alison, Michael and Robbie Plunkett who enthusiastically (Robbie does everything enthusiastically!) cycled around Cheltenham with me one sunny Sunday morning.

To John, Callum, Rory and Kieran Anderson along with Neeraj, Vilas and Seki Prasad. Wonderful to cycle with such old friends.

To Paul Jones for a fabulous day’s cycling around Kyoto. I wouldn’t have attempted it on my own and it was such an adventure.

To Marie & Sally, thank you for indulging me and embracing a cycle around Central Park, despite it not being in either of your ‘top ten things to do in New York’ list

to John, Callum, Rory and Kieran on a Family Holiday in Germany.. Thank you all for indulging me yet again!

To Alison Ferris – I loved your company. Just as well as we did 20 miles more and took two hours longer than planned. Must brush up on my map reading skills! But we did find a pub for lunch that provided sun hats though!

to My lovely little sister who nervously embraced the challenge of reacquainting herself with the joys of cycling and then came back and did it all over again the following year.

To Jim Pascoe Watson for bringing a sense of joy to everyone who has ever cycled with him. For joining us during LEJOG from Weston to Cheltenham with so much enthusiasm and fun despite the saddle sores!

To Claire Lehman for joining us in Devon and leading the team home on the last few hills at the end of a very long day. Chapeau!

To Jackie and CAroline for a birthday cycle and many an enjoyable Sunday cycle.

To Ali, Sally and Marie for embracing a sunny cycle in Seville

To Jane and chris who introduced us to our first real cycle challenge many years ago with the Coast 2 Coast. It took us nearly a decade to sign up to another one! Loved cycling with you again.

To Julie Baillie, my oldest friend who after five years without being on a bike, embraced a 45 mile ride with her usual smile, enthusiasm, sense of fun and energy.

TO THE SUNDAY CYCLING TEAM (AL, CAROLINE, JACKIE, NIGEL AND RIC) WHO WELCOMED US WITH OPEN ARMS, LOTS OF HUMOUR, FABULOUSLY PLANNED ROUTES AND THE BEST CAKE AND COFFEE STOPS IN THE SOUTH WEST!

To the Lanzarote training team for a great few days training for The Raid Alpine.

To everyone who joined us for parts of LEJOG, our Devon and Brecon Beacons cycling weekends, sportives and ad hoc training rides. Too many to name you all (and I’m afraid of missing someone out if I try) but you know who you are…….

Thank You All!

Some Normality

For all sorts of reasons, we haven’t cycled together since Lanzarote:

  • Work commitments
  • Family commitments
  • The weather
  • The Coronavirus
  • Ewan living 450 miles apart from the rest of us!

So, it was lovely to cycle today with John A, John A, Roland and Caroline. A socially distant cycle – note the lack of team photos, no sharing of snacks, no welcome or congratulatory hugs and 2 metres between us (often considerably more as I tried to keep pace)! But it was great to do something in a near normal manner in such abnormal times.

60km cycled amidst our beautiful countryside where social distancing is a natural phenomenon, remote country roads, passing only the occasional car, walker or horse rider, 1100m climbed, 2 metres apart. While many other exercise options are no longer available to us, thank goodness for cycling. The mental and physical health benefits from being outdoors and from exercising can only help build our resilience in these unprecedented times.

Ewan enjoyed a socially isolated cycle in sunny Scotland and of course we all shared and congratulated each other on our respective Strava stats and PBs!

We’ve proved it possible to retain our sense of team despite the geographic distances involved and we have proved it possible to retain for a short time at least, some sense of normality amidst so much uncertainty.

Lighthearted Learning from Lanzarote

1. Uphill is Hard, Downhill Terrifying!

2. The Heavier We Are, The Harder It Is

3. Regular Rest Stops are Essential

4. The Cycle Tracking App Relates To Your Menstrual Cycle Not Your Bicycle!

5. Rehydration is Vital

6. Team Kit = Team Work

7. Style is a Personal Thing

8. You Can Never Carry Too Many Jelly Babies

9. Months More Hill Training Ahead………

10. It’s All for a Good Cause

Longest Day

With everyone feeling at least a little better, we set off with some optimism for our last day’s cycling. Optimism proved an essential component for our longest day in the saddle……

The Challenges of the Day

  • With different bikes, I struggled to clip into my cleats and should have guessed I would struggle to clip out! Yes, before leaving the resort carpark, I had fallen off. A bit battered and bruised but no major injuries, back to bike hire to fit my own pedals.
  • Despite wishing the strong winds would subside, when they did, we realised just how hot it really was!
  • We climbed 1513m, which felt a lot but is not even half of the climb of any day of The Raid Alpine Challenge!
  • Finding ourselves cycling on a motorway when clearly we should have been on the parallel, much quieter and safer road!
  • On our final 15 miles when we were (very) saddle sore and weary, we travelled for a few miles along the most uneven track where every bump added insult to our already very bruised and sore bottoms, arms, necks, hands…….
  • The last 5 miles, the winds reappeared making us have to pedal to get down the last hill home
  • After 115km, I couldn’t have done any more today

The Highlights

  • We learned by going at our own pace, we could all do long distances uphill, where the hairpin bends and elevations resembled those of The Alps – a great confidence booster
  • Great stops along the way
  • Great company and many laughs
  • It has been great to cycle with Ewan and he has well and truly proved himself to be a fabulous team member
  • We loved the ride and would do it again tomorrow if we could
  • We feel better prepared for the challenge
  • I am very well supported by The Cyclopath team
  • We are in the top fours spots of The Raid Alpine Strava Leaderboard (I know – it is only Monday and everyone else was at work!)

A brilliant but hard week’s training completed.

No Plan!

(Just Realised I Hadn’t Posted Sunday’s Adventures!)

Our plan today was to have no plan today. To keep things flexible, have a range of options and see how we felt as the day progressed.

Ewan has the same stomach upset that John had, so couldn’t cycle this morning. Miraculously, he joined us mid afternoon, feeling a little better but I suspect feeling mostly like he didn’t want to miss a whole day of cycling.

Some great roads, a reasonable pace, some time with the rest of the team before they set off for home, lunch by the sea (for some of us), 80km covered, 1200m climb and back before our bike hire expired.

Perfect Day! who needs a plan?

Too Windy

20km into the windiest cycle imaginable, I completely lost my bottle! Having been swept across the road more than once I couldn’t do today’s route. John, putting aside his competitive streak, had the patience of a saint and stayed with me. Finding a roadside cafe, we stopped for a drink, some respite from the wind and I suspect John thought a quick pep talk, before setting off again.

I had other ideas! Within 5 minutes of stopping, with no knowledge of the Spanish language I had managed to book a taxi that would take me and my bike back to our resort!

Hardier than me, the rest of the team cycled the planned route, arriving back some hours later, a few of them somewhat fraught from the traumas of staying upright in the >40mph gusts of wind.

I’m reassured that the wind speed should be half as strong tomorrow……………

Team Training

For the first time today, twelve of the Raid Alpine team are getting together for some training in Lanzarote, many of us meeting for the first time.

After an easy journey, we arrive at the resort reception and only half an hour later, with our hire bikes fitted, we were ready to cycle together.

With a route already prepared, we set off together and stayed together for 50km. It was great to see the team beginning to work together and interesting to battle the very strong winds on our homeward bound leg of the journey. It was however so reassuring after my last training ride to feel on top of my game again today and to keep up with the group in fact, leading the group for a brief spell. John’s competitive gene is clearly rubbing off on me!

A big meal and a few more beers than planned, we thoroughly enjoyed our first time cycling with some of the larger group.

Tomorrow promises more winds, more training and more team building. Oh, and of course it’s very lovely to cycle in the warm sunshine.

Guest Blog

TRAINING & TEAM-BUILDING by Ewan MacLean

The Cyclopaths have all been training in our own way: individually, in pairs and in a variety of groups. We are only one small part of a much bigger ‘Raid Alpine’ group who have all been doing the same across many different UK geographic locations. Between us, we have been cycling indoors and out, through some of the worst conditions a British winter can throw at us, as well as undertaking a huge variety of other types of exercise to support our training. Each week, we cover very different distances, do different types of exercise with different frequencies and speeds, tailored to our individual fitness needs.

Most of us know some of the group members, and indeed a number of the group did a similar challenge last year, The Raid Pyrenees, but many of us have never met each other. However, this week, some of us are getting together, many of us meeting for the first time, in a very different location with a very different climate and some very significant hills to climb. It will be the first big step towards us all becoming a ‘team’ this summer with one common goal: to raise funds for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

We will of course let you know how it goes………

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!

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.

Against the Wind

The plan:

  • Early start
  • Lots of kilometres (90)
  • Lots of hills (1,000m+)
  • A brief coffee stop
  • Fast(ish)!
  • Back by 2pm

The Weather Forecast:

  • 7-10 degrees (‘Toastie”)!
  • A ‘fresh breeze’

The Reality:

  1. Early start
  2. Lots of kilometres (76) – many of them slow due to head on wind
  3. Lots of hills – 1,166m of them with segments of up to 20%
  4. For ‘fresh breeze’ – read ‘overpowering gusts’, head on slowing us down, side on knocking us over, unpleasant at best, dangerous at worst
  5. Fast(ish) – No chance, thwarted by the wind
  6. Home by 2pm, another training ride completed

Pedalling with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is a progressive, degenerative disease for which there is currently no cure. Symptoms will get worse over time and the rate of progression will vary significantly from person to person.

Amongst many other symptoms, Parkinson’s affects balance and coordination, it causes dizziness, muscle cramps, dystonia, rigidity, stiffness, pain, slow movement, tremor, problems with sleep, fatigue and posture. Symptoms I am all too familiar with. Add to this, slowed reaction times, a 50% lower power output on my right side compared to my left and an asymmetrical riding posture and I might be forgiven for thinking that cycling and Parkinson’s are not particularly compatible!

BUT – exercise has been shown to slow down disease progression and for me that’s pretty compelling motivation for me to get on my bike and ride!

The evidence that cycling is beneficial for people with Parkinson’s is well established. Recent research is described in Dr Simon Stott’s ‘Science of Parkinson’s’ article The Exergaming of Parkinson’s.

Image Source: Stuartmcmillen.com

By the time I tackle The Raid Alpine Challenge, I will have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s for over 5 years. During this time I have cycled 1,000s of kilometres and become the fittest I have ever been. I cycle faster, further and hillier than I have ever done and am better than I ever imagined I might be at this stage of my Parkinson’s progression.

Others may have a different experience but for me, the Parkinson’s related challenges start when I’m preparing to go out on my bike – fiddly tasks such as attaching lights, my Garmin, saddlebag, doing up zips, helmet, shoes, and putting on gloves take longer than they used to and can be frustratingly difficult at times. Checking tyre pressure is a hit and miss exercise. On a good day, it’s OK, on a not so good day by the time I’ve attached the pump to the valve, I have no pressure left in the tyres at all. So, I pump the tyre up, only to lose all the air when trying to disconnect the pump! And repeat……

There is an etiquette to group cycling. Read Road Cycling UK’s Essential Guide to Hand Signals and Calls to learn more about this. Parkinson’s makes me a less reliable group cyclist than I would like to be. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Take my left hand off my handlebars and my right alone cannot control my bike. Signals involving my left hand are unlikely to give the desired outcome.
Image Source: Clipartart.com

2. Parkinson’s makes it difficult to project my voice so my shouts are not always as loud as I would want them to be. Those behind or in-front may not always hear my warning shouts.

3. My balance is worse when I have a lot of moving things in my peripheral vision. If I don’t talk, or if I drop behind you, or ask you to give me some more space, it’s because I’m concentrating on staying upright, not because you’ve bored me!

4. My reaction time is slower than most. I’m likely to be in the pothole by the time I’ve seen it, let alone, seen it, avoided it, taken my hand off the handlebars and signalled and shouted to cyclists behind me.

Image Source: Bikeyface.com

I shall alert everyone to the risks of cycling behind me at the team safety briefing. Fortunately, cycling behind me is not something many of the group will experience as I’m one of the slower cyclists.

5. I adjust the timing, quantity and combination of my medications for long rides. So, I like to know how far we are likely to go, how fast and how hilly, when we plan to set off and when we are planning to take a break. Inevitably things change and I can adapt to this but I like to have a plan!

If I get the timing and dosage wrong, my speed, dexterity and even my thinking, reaction time, posture and balance can all be affected. Everything becomes a slog, like wading through treacle. The tiniest incline feels like a mountain as my legs lose power and my thinking becomes slow. I struggle to remember which gear lever moves my gears up or down, and it becomes difficult to remember my left from my right and I even have to think about how to brake. On top of all of this, I could quite literally fall asleep whilst cycling and can struggle to even keep my eyes open.

If this happens during The Raid Alpine challenge, where I need to cycle 800km, whilst climbing 19,000m over 6 days, I have a problem. As one of the slower cyclists, I am already worried there may not be enough hours in the day, even on a good day, for me to complete the distance and climb. Throw in a bad day and I may need a few extra days to complete the challenge!

6. My symptoms vary day to day. The only predictable thing is knowing I will have some combination of some of the symptoms for some or all of a ride. Symptoms can be influenced by the time of day, how well I’ve slept, stress levels, fatigue, what and when I’ve eaten, time of the month, illnesses (cold, flu etc), the weather….

In a nutshell, like everyone, I have good days and bad days, they may be a little more variable and more unpredictable than most but I have had a few years of experience in dealing with these and I believe, I have it down to a pretty fine art. Time will tell.

Weather Forecasting

Deciding which weather forecast to use when planning the timing of and routes for our cycle rides is an art form in itself. Cycling for three beautifully sunny hours during a 24 hour period where ice, freezing temperature, gusty winds and rain dominated the weather forecast is nothing short of a miracle! And yet, today this is exactly what we achieved.

We cancelled the usual Sunday morning cycle due to the forecast icy temperatures and a warning from a friend who had fallen off his bike after hitting black ice early in the morning the day before.

However, setting off at midday, we encountered three hours of glorious sunshine in which we could enjoy the beautiful Cotswold countryside. The weather was stunning. Accompanied by Cyclopaths Caroline, Paul and Roland and an old friend, Neeraj, we cycled 76 fairly hilly kilometres.

We took an easy sociable pace and I conquered Ham Hill for the second time in a week. Harp Hill and Stanway Hill seemed easy at this pace and we then enjoyed a beautiful ride out to Broadway Tower.

However, after our coffee stop, as the sun lowered in the sky, the temperature dropped and the cold set in. The others went on, keen to warm up. Neeraj and I took an easy pace home, meaning that we tackled Cleeve Hill, the last hill of the day, as dusk fell. It was a pleasant light uphill but by the time we were ready to speed downhill, we were in complete darkness. Avoiding the numerous potholes is not easy in the dark and was the only bit of the ride that I didn’t enjoy.

Another week’s cycle training completed, with a total of 167km cycled with 2,082m ascent. Sounds and feels like we’ve done a lot but this equates to just one day of our Raid Alpine Challenge in distance and half the amount of hills. So much more training to do………

Thanks to everyone for your great company. I couldn’t do all this training without you all.

Sleepless Night!

Pleased with yesterday’s cycle, I started to think about how long it might take to to cycle the first day of The Raid Alpine challenge……..

Source: Marmot Tours

My Latest Stats

Distance: 55km

Ascent: 1,100m

Moving Time: 3 hours 30 mins moving @ average speed 15.4kmh

Duration: 4 hours 30 mins

Day 1 The Raid Alpine

Distance: 137km

Ascent: 3,700m

Est Moving Time: 10 hours 30 mins

Est Duration: 15 hours

Start: 7am, finish 10pm. I need to recover, refresh, eat, blog, sleep, prepare, repeat…..six days in a row

There are not enough hours in the day!!!!

And then I read that there are only 23.934 hours in a day!

Image Source: spaceplane.nasa.gov

And then I remember how exhausted I was after my most recent cycle!

Before panic sets in, I remind myself that the hills yesterday were extremely steep in parts, the roads wet, slippy, with potholes, debris and few passing places. This made even the downhill slow!

Fast forward 175 days and I’m hoping all of the following will make a difference:

  • A lighter bike
  • A lighter me
  • Better road surfaces
  • 175 days more training
  • Improved nutrition
  • Optimising timings of meds during long cycles
  • Beautiful scenery
  • A new experience
  • Plenty of pace setters
  • A positive mental attitude
  • Group support

There is no time to waste, I must get faster and fitter…………but first, some sleep!

Image Source: Clipart

2019 Statistics

The last ride of 2019 made me reflect on the cycling I have done during the year, before turning my attention to the challenges that lie ahead in 2020.

My Strava Statistics for 2019

The Strava statistics tell only the numbers, so here’s a little personal reflection on the experiences.

I cycled nearly 4,000km, predominantly throughout the beautiful, hilly, Cotswold countryside. Ventures further afield included a challenging but fun weekend cycling in the Brecon Beacons and later in the year, a week long cycle from Boston to Bar Harbour on the east coast of the USA.

Both, the Brecon Beacons and Boston to Bar Harbour proved to be hillier than almost anything we had experienced nearer to home and both proved to be a physical challenge as well as great fun. For Boston, the LEJOG Cyclopaths: Caroline, Paul, Paula, Julia, Marianne, Steve, John, David and myself were joined by friends from the USA and Canada.

For the Brecon Beacons, The Cyclopaths were joined by numerous friends and we had a wonderful weekend with long, challenging cycles along beautiful routes meticulously planned by Linda. As always, the company was fantastic and we enjoyed great food and wonderful hospitality at the lovely Foyles of Glasbury hotel.

I also enjoyed cycling Central Park in New York with friends, during one of my 50th birthday celebrations.

I loved cycling around Kyoto and Gion in Japan with Paul, where we both attended The World Parkinson’s Congress.

The rest of the miles were shared with many wonderful ‘Cyclopath’ friends and latterly with our friends, the Sunday morning cyclists who have welcomed us with open arms as we ramp up our Raid Alpine training. Thank you for letting us infiltrate your group – we thoroughly enjoy our Sunday morning cycles with you all.

Thank you to everyone who has shared some cycling miles with me over the past year. I have loved every minute of your company, your enthusiasm, your support and fantastic camaraderie. I couldn’t have done any of this without you all. I look forward to many more adventures during 2020.