Easy!

Having lived cycling, talked cycling, blogged cycling, thought about nothing but cycling for the past few months, I have now started dreaming cycling.

If I believed my dreams, I would be cycling ahead of the rest of the team, they would be shouting ‘Slow down! We can’t keep up! When did you get so good on hills?’ But I wouldn’t be able to hear them, I would be so far ahead. The team would consist of the Cyclopaths, friends, Sir Chris Hoy, Mike Tindall and Rowan Atkinson! None of whom were able to keep up with me, except Rowan, who overtook me heading clockwise on the M25. However, for his efforts he was disqualified as clearly cyclists are not allowed to use the fast lane!

Image Source: Into film.org

I haven’t slept well for five years. Initially after diagnosis, from the shock and fear, and it was only once I’d got to grips with that, that I realised Parkinson’s itself causes sleep problems. Another symptom that is hidden from the view of others. My nights are spent tossing and turning, writing, emailing, thinking and when all else fails, occasionally I get some sleep. Never more than three solid hours.

So imagine my delight when last night, during those three hours, I cycled 137km, climbed 3,700m of hills faster than the speed of light and the only person to overtake me was Rowan Atkinson!

To cap it all, I was awarded an Olympic Gold Medal made of chocolate for my efforts. With energy to spare, I cycled an ascent of Mont Ventoux to celebrate. This ‘lap of honour’ was easy, my thighs had grown to resemble Sir Chris Hoy’s and my power output was averaging 24,000 watts. I was delighted by my performance but slightly worried I would never fit into my jeans again. The long downhill from the top of Mont Ventoux was easy, like the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, my bike grew wings and like a bird I flew gracefully down from the top. Anyone who has ever cycled with me knows for certain that I am never at the front and there is nothing graceful about my downhill cycling, so this was a thrilling finale for me!

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I felt a fleeting euphoria on waking, that the challenge was over, I had completed it without any problem, I was faster than Sir Chris Hoy and really, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

Imagine my dismay when it dawned on me that Sir Chris Hoy is not cycling the Gloucestershire hills for Raid Local (although Mike Tindall is and I believe Sir Chris is leading a section of the Raid Local challenge on Zwift), I haven’t yet completed the challenge, it will take me significantly longer than three hours and if I can’t fit in my jeans it’s due to the chocolate not the training!

Roll on Sunday 28th – Raid Local.

Fourth ‘First’

My fourth ‘first’ for this week was to cycle Sudeley Hill today without stopping. As part of a hilly ride today, after Harp and Ham hills, I finally did it!

At 2.5km long, with an average gradient of 8.4%, a maximum gradient of 18% and a total climb of 215m, it was a tough one.

Despite trying a lighter, more aerodynamic bike, an additional ‘granny gear’, electronic Di2 gear shifters, a lighter me, all the cycling gear, months of practice, until today, I just couldn’t quite do it. What was different today? The promise of bacon baps at The Old Post Office in Guiting Power was perhaps was gave me that final push I needed to get up that hill!

A very welcome rest and refuelling stop!

Three times more and I’ll have completed The Raid Local……

A Second Wind!

Rarely have I ever cycled and not enjoyed it. Yesterday, however, was one such occasion. Despite a beautiful, hilly and carefully planned route during which we thoroughly enjoyed the first 40km, the homeward bound route was tough. After the trauma of cycling in winds strong enough to knock me over, we eventually made it home safe but exhausted. Desperately keen to replace these negative feelings about cycling, with my usual positive ones, I ventured out again today.

The wind had dropped from fresh (not recommended) to moderate (hard work but without the threat of being toppled over).

What a beautiful ride. A gentle 50km in spring-like temperatures. No hills, windy enough to be a little harder work than usual but an easy pace. One puncture, easily repaired. Made even easier when we stopped to change the tyre outside the house of a cyclist, whose track pump saved time and effort pumping up the replacement tyre. Thanks Rob!

Still feeling a little competitive, here’s the good news for this week:

Distance

Elevation

Despite the colds weather in Scotland and a weekend away from home, Ewan managed a very respectable 6th place.

The Cyclopaths!

Saturday’s ‘Sunday’ Cycle

We did our usual Sunday morning cycle on Saturday as the weather forecast was much more favourable!

The Cyclists

Jackie, Caroline, Al, Nigel, Roland & John

Highlights

Good company and the essential cake and coffee stop

Beautiful countryside

Amazing Wildlife

We spent a few minutes watching Fallow Deer running across fields and at one point, across the road ahead. There must have been 30 of them and it was such a beautiful sight.

Lowlights

The condition of the roads.

The winter roads can be treacherous. Although not icy today, it was slippy in places. I managed by some miracle to land safely and upright in a hedge after sliding uncontrollably and scarily downhill.

Fog

Visibility was really poor at times. Cycling at the rear, it was interesting to observe the visibility of the rest of the group when it became foggy. Hi vis clothing helps but bright, flashing, rear lights make the biggest difference. Many new lights purchased after today’s ride.

New Skills Needed

A problem with her chain within the first five minutes, meant that Jackie couldn’t carry on. No amount of medical, dental or veterinary expertise amongst the group, could fix the problem! A bike maintenance course for at least some of us looms ahead…..

Summary

Distance: 73km

Elevation Gain: 983m

Maximum Speed: 118km/hr. I can only assume it’s an error!

Enjoyment: undefined

Jolly Nice

A clear day when we left Cheltenham, by the time, we had cycled up Leckhampton Hill and out towards Winstone, the fog was setting in.

It was lovely to meet up with John and Chris, two friends who we had cycled LEJOG with.

LEJOG With Chris and John

Under time pressure to get back, Roland headed home, while the rest of us enjoyed a coffee and cake stop at one of our favourite haunts – The Jolly Nice at Frampton Mansell.

I’ve cycled to and from The Jolly Nice a number of times and was pleasantly surprised to find the ride home easier than before. Easier, except for the shortcut to avoid the notoriously busy Air Balloon roundabout on the A417. By this point, we had all gone our separate ways, so, on my own, I took a familiar off road shortcut, only to be met by a dozen very large cows grazing alongside the route I needed to take. I fleetingly considered returning to the A417 as the safer option!

My imagination running riot, I couldn’t help feeling my high visibility red cycling jacket might not have been the best choice for this part of the journey, and with more than a little trepidation, I took the shortcut and (of course) made it through unscathed.

Another 55km of training enjoyed!

In case anyone has noticed the absence of my husband in training of late, he’s doing his training in the Alps!

NAD

In the medical world, amongst other things, NAD, means ‘Nothing Abnormal Detected’.

‘NAD’ sums today up Beautifully:

It was cold, wintery, foggy and wet out. NAD for January.

Despite the weather, we cycled. NAD for The Cyclopaths.

We cycled Ham Hill again. NAD, having cycled it three times this week already.

We cycled 40km. NAD, 40km is fairly standard these days.

We enjoyed it. NAD, except perhaps, a slight madness!

We had a brief coffee and cake stop. NAD, coffee and cake is a core component of our cycle rides.

The owner of the coffee shop recognised us. NAD, we frequent the same dozen coffee shops regularly.

We agreed to do it all over again on Friday. NAD, this is the way it will be until June 29th………

Too Icy (For Some but Not All of Us)

Freezing over night but the sun shone brightly this morning, so I wrapped up warm in my cycling gear with high hopes. A few steps out onto the road and it was clearly still very icy. Despite my desire to cycle, my desire not to injure myself was stronger.

Today’s Results

Miles Cycled – Nil

Metres Climbed – Nil

Limbs Intact – All

Desire to use indoor turbo trainer – Nil

Fingers crossed tomorrow is warmer……….

Made of Stronger Stuff

Ewan, living on the East coast of Scotland, is made of strong stuff, where inclement weather is concerned. Braving the freezing temperatures, the wind and the rain, he had his coldest cycle so far……….and is still smiling!

Calm After The Storm

Yesterday threw gale force winds, relentless driving rain and cold temperatures our way all day and all night. I couldn’t imagine being able to get out and cycle today.

However, in true British weather style, the winds had passed, the rain had stopped and with true British stoicism, Roland and I ventured out for a hilly 50km cycle. There is something about facing the challenge of a lifetime in less than six months that makes us get on our bikes and ride.

Up Harp hill, which, I don’t really consider to be a hill anymore (progress indeed) with a Personal Best (PB) time. Next up came Ham Hill. Known to local cyclists as a tough climb, I have to confess that I had never actually cycled the length of Ham Hill without having to stop to catch my breath. It is on my list of ’50 things to do at 50′ and today, I did it! I can’t say it was easy but it wasn’t too hard either (progress again).

I learned from Ham Hill today, something about the importance of mental attitude as well as physical preparation on performance. I had a written goal: I wanted to conquer Ham Hill, I have trained hard on hills in recent months, it was important for the rest of my 2020 Raid Alpine training to conquer it. Ham Hill is a tiny fraction of what I will need to do during The Raid Alpine, I needed this tiny achievement to confirm I was making progress. The belief that completing The Raid Alpine is within my reach is as important as any other aspect to my training. I wouldn’t allow any ‘what if I can’t’ thoughts to invade my mind and before I knew it, without much ado, I conquered Ham Hill, with another PB.

Bouyed by the confirmation that I could do Ham Hill, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the ride through beautiful undulating Cotswolds countryside. During the ride home down Ham Hill, littered with flood water, debris and potholes, I found myself wishing I was going up and not down it. Now there’s a change in mindset if ever there was one.

As always I returned home invigorated, a little tired but pleased with my performance and thrilled to get 41 Strava Achievements! I’m becoming slightly Strava obsessed but that’s another story……..

My Ham Hill Results

Sunday Morning

As is becoming a regular for a Sunday morning, I cycle up Leckhampton Hill to meet the Sunday morning cyclists at Cowley. It’s lovely for Al, Caroline, Jackie, Ric and Nigel to welcome us into their well established Sunday morning group where Al plans a different but invariably hilly route each week, with the essential coffee and cake stop. We rely on Caroline to check the route to ensure Al hasn’t got carried away with the hilly component of the cycle! It was drizzly and dreich for most of the cycle but a welcome stop at The Chedworth Farm Shop, helped energise us for the ride home.

The weather may not have been kind but the company was great and we managed 55km and over 1,100m of hills. (I’ve to climb 3,700m on the first day of The Raid Alpine over 137km!)