And for my next trick….

After talking about it for so long, spending every spare hour cycling in training, and sixteen days of pushing myself in the hardest challenge I have ever taken on….it all now seems a little surreal.  I wanted to get back from the trip and get straight on with cycling, but being unable to do anything due to my knee injury makes it feel even more strange.  Get the bus to work instead of cycle?  Sit down in the evening and do nothing?  What??

Going from cycling every day to trying not to even walking too much was hard and made worse by my knee seemingly getting more painful by the day.  I’ve been to the doctors a few times and am assured that nothing is disastrously wrong, but it just needs time to heal.

I was waiting until I was back to being active again so I could blog and say “yay…back on the bike”, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen any time soon.  This week there seems to be a slight improvement, so I’m going to try a little bit of gentle indoor cycling to see how it holds up, and then take it from there.  The important thing with an injury is not to rush back into activity as soon as it seems to be getting a little better.  However, it is also important not to leave it too long and let all my hard work to get fit go to waste.

Despite the pain, during and after the trip, it has definitely been worth it as I have so far raised £1,142.15 for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.  I want to take the opportunity to thank each and every person who donated to this great charity, your support helped me keep pushing and raised a fantastic amount to contribute to the great work they do.  Thank you!

Whilst my knee is healing I have time to think about what to do next.  As my plan for this year was going to be to run a marathon (which I clearly didn’t do after being distracted by the whole 1000 miles of cycling in 16 days malarkey) I would like to start training for that.  Running fitness is very different to cycling fitness, so I have no idea how long it will take me to get ready for that, I may not even be able to do it next year, who knows!  I would also like to keep up with the cycling, possibly join a friendly cycling group if I can find one, and maybe take part in some organised events.

I’ve decided to keep blogging because I found this a great motivator in the preparation for cycling to Switzerland, so you can follow me over at my new blog if you want.

The scariest thing for me recently was my first appointment with the doctor, when he suggested I could do some swimming if I wanted something to do while my knee was healing.  Anyone who knows me well will know that I dislike swimming, mostly due to the fact that I’m a terrible swimmer with an irrational fear of drowning.  A year ago I would have laughed at his suggestion.  A year ago I would have said “no, I don’t like swimming, and I’m not very fit, I wouldn’t enjoy it.”  A few weeks ago, when he said that to me, my first thought was “oooh, maybe I could do triathlons!”.  What has happened to me?  What has happened to the old Jen, the lazy Jen, the ‘occasional sport is quite enough for me’ Jen?

I have no idea where that Jen has gone, but I’m happy she’s left!

Hello Switzerland

Day 12

We set off from Bayon this morning all ready to do 51 miles on another half day of cycling. After our triumph yesterday I was very tired and found today a bit of a struggle. We had some nice roads with a few hills in the early morning but this soon became a steady climb upwards the closer we got to Switzerland. On one particular hill I had to stop quite a few times with knee pain and general tiredness – thankfully Ryan and Megan helped me through with encouragement, because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.

It was with great relief that we saw the most beautiful sign I had been waiting the last 12 days to see:

A happy sight

A happy sight

We also couldn’t help having a little fun at the border control:

Hello Switzerland

Where are we?

Where are we?

Hello Switzerland

As I’ve been injury-laden for the last 11 days my main focus has been to make it to the Swiss border. I can’t describe the relief I felt when I realised I had made it, but I think the relief drained my remaining energy and the last 15 miles were an arduous slog. Thankfully, after a little more uphill and some beautiful scenery, we had the descent all the way down into Delemont and the campsite.

Making my way through Switzerland...slowly

Making my way through Switzerland…slowly

Winding Hills

Winding Hills

We have now cycled 823 miles, with a total ascent of 13,670 metres. Tomorrow we start our Swiss adventure, with four more days of cycling before we reach the finish line in Locarno.

I couldn’t have reached this far without the support of all my team, Richard, Chris, Megan and espically Ryan have been so wonderful in helping me to rest and nurse my knee injury and to make it through the cycling.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and followed us this far, we only have four days of our journey but these four days include three alpine passes and another ~240 miles of cycling.

Day 4: Oxford to Horsham

After a half day of rest we went to bed as early as we could to make sure we were refreshed for the day ahead. A quick look at the weather forecast told us it was set to be the hottest day of the year so far, so we wanted to set off early to get a good proportion of our cycling done before the high temperatures started.

As we set off from Oxford at 7.30am I was a little apprehensive about my knee as it still hurt a bit, but we took it slowly as we warmed up.

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Heading through a quiet Sunday morning Oxford

Before too long we were zooming down to Henley, with very little knee pain, and making excellent progress.

Today has really showed us how wonderful our support team is and how much we rely on them. We are so grateful for Chris and Richard, for setting up camp, cooking us dinner, driving all over the country after us to supply top ups of suncream and flapjack. We couldn’t do this without them!

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A quick stop with the support team to rest and ice my knee for a while

Just after lunch we managed to meet up with Pat and Tony (aka Grandma and Grandad) who with Daniel and Kaylie had been driving all over the South of England to try and catch up with us. We wish we could have spent more time with them, but we had to get going to make sure we met our target for the day. Thanks so much to them for coming to see us, and for the bag of treats, the raspberry doughnuts were greatly received

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A much needed treat

There were a few unexpected moments on today’s route, not least the two off road mountain biking moments…. thanks GPS for assuming all bike routes are equally suitable!

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A brief downhill section, right before I did a spectacular crash into a rock and fell off

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Cycle Route? Path? Field? It’s hard to tell!

As the day wore on we did get a bit slower, thanks to my knee which had its occasional momenta of pain. I’m just glad it wasn’t all day pain like yesterday, at least I had some relief for the occasional 20 minutes.

We made it to Lower Beeding, near Horsham which completed our 87 miles for the day. As the campsite we’re staying in is away from the route we didn’t need to cycle all the way there, so Richard picked us up and that was us done for the day.

We’re staying in the brilliant Blacklands campsite, which not only has fantastic facilities, but the lovely owner Keith, hearing of our ridiculous adventure, has made a donation to our charities, thank you!

So now everyone is busy running around preparing everything for tomorrows trip. We’ve planned a 76 mile route which will take us to Folkestone and our UK stint will be done.

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Our spiritual home?

Day 3, to Oxford

Team Pedal Day 3 and we set off early to be driven back to yesterday’s finishing point in Ilmington to cover the remaining miles back to Oxford.  There is something mildly unsettling about being driven away from somewhere you then need to cycle back towards, but that is something we have to face up to on this journey, as we may not always be able to cycle to our destination every day.

Today the plan was to continue through Oxford and head towards Guildford but my knee had other plans.  After a painful day yesterday when I started getting knee pain towards the end of the day, I had hoped a good nights rest would solve it.  Unfortunately not as today’s 35 miles were excruciating.

This early in the trip we need to make the most of the additional days we have set aside for rest.  Whilst our bodies are adjusting to the sudden onslaught we’re putting on them, rest days during this time can be very beneficial for us all.  So we made it back to Oxford after making the Team decision to rest for the afternoon.

It’s important for us to always keep the bigger picture in mind. We have to make it all the way to Switzerland, so it makes little sense to push through injury and potentially make it worse.  If I pushed myself through injury and couldn’t even make it across France I would be very disappointed.  Currently my knee is drugged up, bandaged up, raised up and iced up – all this will hopefully make it better tomorrow and ready to do the next 80 miles.  We’re all optimistic that our afternoon of rest will refresh us all and allow the Team to push on further.  The last two days have been very hard, but we’re all still determined and committed, spurred on by the great support we’re receiving from everyone.

And finally, a little light relief, from today’s journey…

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I just couldn’t resist a photo opportunity when we cycled past

Shiny new old bike

Now it’s starting to get scary, I can’t believe the time is almost here and there are only 10 days left before we go.

This week both Ryan and I had to contend with the difficulty of how to deal with injury.  On Tuesday my knee make a horrible unnatural crunching sound whilst at work, which made it very painful to cycle at all.  Being this close to the start of the journey to Switzerland it’s hard to know what to do.  Obviously with a minor injury it’s important to take some rest time, but how much time?  Last week was the last proper week of training as now we’re winding down in preparation for the big day and more training was essential, but to run the risk of making an injury worse and being unable to even start the trip would be crazy!

I took some of the week off to rest my knee, but I still got plenty of vital things done instead…like building my new bike so that I actually have something to ride on the trip.

A quick recap for those who aren’t aware, my old bike which I’ve been using for years and for all the training so far, is actually too large for me.  Although this does not cause many problems day to day, on anything more then a 50 mile ride I have a lot of back pain due to having to stretch too far to reach the handlebars.

Finally I decided I could not risk taking this bike to Switzerland so I bought a new frame.  Thankfully Ryan was available this week and is also quite handy with a torque wrench, so on Thursday night I drove to Wales and we spent most of the weekend destroying one bike and building a new one.  Rather then bore you with the technical details, here is a pictorial representation of the journey:

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Before…a perfectly good and reliable bike, just not quite right for me.

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Bring stripped of all vital parts

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Checking the gears are all still there

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Brakes all in working order..hopefully

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The finished product. Brand new frame….borrowed everything else.

And because it now seems mandatory to have a photo of my looking silly with a bike:

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Just an excuse for Ryan to take a photo of his car!

I am very happy with the final result and the bike is already a lot more comfortable to ride then the old one.  Although I am slowing down the training over the next week I still need to go out and use the bike lots to make sure everything is in working order, so I’ll be getting out a few times this week.

The only thing left is to decide on a name for the bike.  I’m informed by Ryan that the First Rule of Bike Club is that a bike must have a female name, and you don’t get to name it yourself.

I have reliably informed Ryan that I don’t care about the First Rule of Bike Club, or what he or anyone else calls it, my new bike is called Felipe….

Massa

Surely…anyone can see the similarities between my new vehicle and Felipe’s?

Training & planning diary – 3 weeks to go

The past week was an interesting one, in which I didn’t do as much outdoor cycling as I was expecting due to the pesky British weather.  I did however watch a lot of episodes of The West Wing (obviously whilst cycling indoors, though occasionally with a cup of tea and not on a bike) and I made myself a little more broke purchasing some much-needed kit for the trip.  Here’s a little round-up of what I got up to last week:

Monday 10th June
Today I didn’t get home from work until 7pm, due to covering a late shift.  So instead of going on a planned outing I attached the bike to the turbo trainer and attempted to do as many sprints up hill as I could manage.  I did an hour before I ran out of energy, pushing myself as hard as I could certainly builds up an appetite.

Miles cycled: 6.83 miles to work & back
Time on turbo trainer: 1 hour

Tuesday 11th June
With all the bother I’ve had recently with my eyes (bugs, dust and wind are not kind to eye health) I finally took the plunge and booked an appointment with the optician.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get contact lenses to fit my bizarrely shaped eyes so I can wear wraparound sunglasses and stop a lot of these problems occurring.  I’m also going to need to speak to them about how my eye is still hurting after getting something in it last Saturday, the appointment is on Friday after work.

As much fun as it is cycling in torrential rain I decided against it today and went home after work and did another stint on the turbo trainer.  This time I didn’t do any sprints, just continual uphill for an hour

Miles cycled: 6.49 miles to work & back
Time on turbo trainer: 1 hour

Wednesday 12th June
Today I’m working late again and I arrive in the office to find my new frame has been delivered a lot earlier then we expected:

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And now I just have to get it home some how!

After work, despite the threat of rain from the ominous looking clouds, I think I might be able to squeeze in a few extra miles so I go for a little detour, I think I made it about 20 seconds down the road before the torrential rain started, so I hastily retreated and dragged my drenched self home.  Once I’d dried myself off I did a bit of indoor cycling and watched the rain pour down from the warm safety of the front room.

Miles cycled: 7.87 miles to work and back with a mini detour in the rain
Time on turbo trainer: 1.5 hours

Thursday 13th June
Thursday was almost a rest day, as I was working in a different part of Oxford which I decided might be quicker to drive to.  In hindsight it would have been easier to cycle as I sat in a lot of traffic jams watching cyclists sail past me.  Once home I hopped on the bike and watched a few more West Wing episodes whilst climbing up some big hills.

Time on turbo trainer: 2 hours

Friday 14th June
Friday was my first rest day of the week and I really needed it!  After work I went to the opticians where I had my eyes tested and poked for two hours.  Thankfully there was nothing still in my eye from the weekend, but I do have some very dry patches for which I was prescribed some fake tears to use for a week.  Naturally they didn’t have my contact lenses in stock as I have weird shaped eyes, but they’ve ordered me some to try next week.  I wont be allowed them unless the dryness has cleared up, which apparently can be caused by cycling and wearing glasses (because the wind gets forced around and in to your eyes).  Hopefully I wont have any problems getting them next week!

When I finally got home I went straight out in the car and drove back to work so I could go and pick the new bike frame, later that evening Ryan and I had a Skype chat so we could look at any differences between my old frame and new one to predict any problems we might have swapping them over.  All looked okay so next week the new frame gets fitted.

Total miles cycled: 6.58 miles to work and back
Total time spent having my eyes poked: 2 hours
Total people I annoyed saying: “ooh, look at my new bike frame, isn’t it sexy”: 2 (sorry Laura & Christine)

Saturday 15th June
I spent a lot of time this week planning possible long cycle routes for my only day off of the week, as the weather reports got worse and worse as the week went on.  The problem with covering so much distance is that you have to check the weather for several different counties.  Eventually I reluctantly decided there was just no way I was going to be able to cover 100 miles this weekend.  Instead I settled for heading out first thing on Saturday to get in as many miles as I could before the rain started, with an afternoon of indoor cycling.

I cycled 25 miles and headed back into Oxford before realising that the weather still looked okay so I should stay out a bit longer.  I cycled through town, taking a brief stop to get another damn bug out of my eye.  Heading back home I really started to wonder if this promised rain was going to arrive as the weather looked good, but I knew that if I’d headed out on a longer ride I ran the risk of being 50 miles from home and making very slow progress in the rain.  I was just cycling up to the driveway and wishing I’d done a more even number then the 36 I’d managed when a thought occurred to me….I didn’t take my house key out with me.  I gave the door a quick knock just in case but I knew no one was in.  I got back on the bike and cycled back into town where Christine was at work and got the very lovely building porter to watch my bike while I ran inside to frighten the library users with my lycra and beg for a house key.  Back home I’d managed to add another 6 miles to my total to make it a nice round 40 miles for the day.

I grabbed some lunch and had a quick chat with Ryan who was at home nursing a bad back, when the dark clouds descended and the rain started.  Happy to be indoors where I don’t need to do makeshift windscreen wipers on my glasses, I tried to spend as much of the afternoon on the turbo trainer as possible.  I honestly don’t know how Ryan manages to do so many hours indoors, I got bored after two hours but managed to push it to three before my brain started to melt and I had to give up.  Still, three indoors is worth double outdoors so I think I did okay.

Total miles cycled: 41.06
Time on turbotrainer: 3 hours
Episodes of The West Wing watched this week:  Can’t remember, but I had to change the disk three times!

Sunday 16th June
On Sunday I decided to give myself a total rest day.  I had to work so instead of cycling I drove in, in fact, I didn’t go near my bike all day!  It was a very odd experience, and one I’m not too keen to repeat.  I attempted to do some more route mapping today and managed a bit more in my break at work, but I really need to finalise it next week, it’s a lot harder than it seems as I have to check all the roads to make sure they’re cyclable as well as trying not to make it so complicated we can’t remember the way, or too long that we wont make it in the four days we have to cycle through the UK.  Today I also purchased some after-cycling recovery drink which I have had some samples of and it works really well to give you a much-needed boost at the end of the day. I also purchased some new cycling shoes, as my current ones are big and bulky and likely to make my feet too warm in the no doubt glorious weather we’re going to have for two weeks.

Thoughts on the week
Last night I noticed an old message I’d written about a cycling holiday we did to Scotland last summer.  I’d written “cycled 34 miles today, totally exhausted”.  I would now like to apologise to Ryan and Dave for being so incredibly slow and distance-averse on that holiday!  It’s amazing to see something like that because it reminds me how far I’ve come, 34 miles? I could do that before lunch and still have the energy to come back again!

Training & planning diary – 4 weeks to go

After the set backs of last week I was hoping to make some good steps forward in my training and get one really long cycle ride done.  Here’s a summary of what I did this last week:

Monday 3rd June
Still in Wales this morning after the weekend so I’ve picked today as my first rest day of the week.  Ryan and I spend a lot of the morning talking about the new purchases I need to make (new bike frame mostly).  I drive back to Oxford intending to get a lot of planning done in the evening, but the bad traffic means my usual four hour journey takes six hours and I’m back just in time for bed!  But before I can go to sleep I first need to buy myself a new bike frame.  The order is placed, and it will hopefully arrive some time in the next 10 days.

Tuesday 4th June
Determined to get the week off to a good start I set out straight from work for a cycle ride.  As I stupidly left my pannier rack in Leeds over the weekend I’m having to cycle with a back pack into work.  A rather unpleasant experience that gives me a sweaty back.  Cycling after work with a backpack on meant I also had back pain after a relatively short ride, so I wont be doing that again.  Even with the uncomfortable back it was still a lovely evening, and I saw lots of clubs out racing – always wonderful to see so many cyclists about.  I also had to turn back around to get proof of this usual level of friendliness towards cyclists:

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Well done Panshill Cafe for being so friendly to cyclists!

The best thing about the evening was going down a very steep hill at 28mph and having to brake heavily to avoid going over the 20mph speed limit at the bottom of the hill….wonderful feeling!

Cycle to work: 3.22 miles
Cycle ride after work: 32.58 miles
Minutes of stretching to shake off the back pain: 45

Wednesday 5th June
Learning my lesson from yesterday I returned home after work, changed, and set off out again to do another long ride.  I tried a different route this time, and one that I don’t think I’ll try again.  Cycle paths too narrow to cycle on, others strewn with glass – it really wasn’t very pleasant at all.  I also encountered lots of cycle paths that followed the usual trend of not really understanding the point of a cycle path:

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…and this is why we cycle on the road.

Cycle to & from work: 5.45 miles
Cycle after work: 24.94 miles

Thursday 6th June
Thursday’s are traditionally my rest day as I work later then usual, but as I’m going on a long ride on Saturday I need Friday to rest.  With less time then I usually have I decide to get in from work and do some indoor cycling.  I try to mix fast peddling with steep uphill climbs and keep going for 52 minutes before it’s time for dinner.  Indoor cycling is always hard work as you can really push yourself to your limits….and not having a fan indoors makes it seem like middle of July alps temperatures, so that’s good training too.

I also spent my entire lunch break mapping the route through the UK and trying to save it to send to the rest of the team, but my browser crashed every time I tried. Very frustrating!

Cycle to and from work: 6.42 miles
Time on turbo trainer: 52 minutes
Time stretching: 25 minutes

Friday 7th June
Rest day today.  I started to plan my route for Saturday, as I want to do a bigger ride then I’ve ever done before I know it would be best to go on a familiar route so I can do it quickly.  Unfortunately I don’t know any routes that are very long, so I decide to stick to a national cycle route that will take me away form Oxford and up towards Northamptonshire.  To add a bit of extra interest I decide to divert off route to cycle past some beautiful scenery (see pictures below).  I’m aiming for 100 miles in total, and I really hope I can make it.  I make sure all my kit is ready to go first thing in the morning.

Saturday 8th June
Up at 7 am and straight downstairs for breakfast. I’m anticipating this is going to be an exhausting one….so I have 5 Weetabix.  I’m getting used to nerves before a big ride and today is no exception, I feel quite sick before I set off, but I don’t let that put me off. Just after 8am I’m ready to go and out the door.  After smothering myself in sun protection it’s a little disappointing to find that it’s actually overcast and very windy.  The first 20 miles were really hard as I made my way up through Bicester and out towards Buckingham.  There were lots of cyclists about in the morning, and everyone was very friendly today.  Despite the cloud coverage it was still very warm so I was able to put away the high-vis jacket and enjoy the warm hurricane breeze on my arms….I exaggerate, as usual.  However, there was a very strong headwind the entire journey which made the going very tough.  With lots of sensibly placed stops for snacks I eventually made it to the beautiful scenery I was hoping to see:

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The podium near the final corner on the Silverstone circuit

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Aaah what a beautiful welcoming sight

I can’t believe you can actually see the podium from the roundabout outside the circuit!!  Anyway, after wasting a bit of time meandering outside Silverstone and watching some cars racing over the fence, I continued onwards and made it to my half way point.  I realised somewhere around 40 miles that I may have taken a wrong turning but I wasn’t too concerned as the main objective was to reach 100 miles today, no matter what the route.  However, after passing two cyclists I’d passed earlier on in the day I got out my phone to discover exactly what kind of a mistake I’d done:

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Not quite what I’d intended

Instead of going left after Silverstone village I’d followed a road which took me back down towards Buckingham.  Now I was faced with knowing that where I’d stopped was actually on a road which went back down to Buckingham, so I could just go straight down there to get home – it would be quicker.  The old Jennifer would have certainly taken the quicker easier route and continued on that road, but I was determined to get to 100 miles and so I turned around and went back the way I’d come.

Today’s other brilliant sights included this gem:

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I think maybe they’ve misunderstood the point of a CYCLE route

I made it back home 9 hours and 6 minutes after I’d set off, with a total moving time of 7 hours 57 minutes (with stops for lunch and snacks).

I am very happy that I made it to the full 100 miles, and even more happy that I could still move the next day!

Total miles cycled: 100.55

Sunday 9th June
As my biggest concern with this trip is being able to cycle consecutive long days I would have loved to get out for another 70+ miles and see how I fared.  Unfortunately I had to work today, so instead I got up at 7am to set out for a 15 mile ride before work.  In my last 10 miles yesterday I got what I thought was a bug in my eye, but I’m thinking now it might have been a bit of grit.  At the time I had to stop to try and get whatever it was out, but had to cycle for the last 10 miles with my right eye streaming with water and stinging a lot.  Last night I had a very restless sleep as every time my eye moved I woke up in pain.  Today it doesn’t seem much better and was watering a lot on the ride, so I stuck to the safety of meandering around the streets of Oxford and got to 17 miles before it was time to get ready for work.

Cycle in the morning: 17.64 miles
Cycle to and from work: 6.75 miles

Thoughts on the week
I’m really happy with how much training I’ve done this week, and that I not only did a 100 mile ride myself, but also in a pretty decent time.  On Sunday I didn’t feel too bad out on the bike, my knees were a bit achy and my legs a bit stiff for the first five miles, but generally I felt like I could keep going for a lot more miles.  Next week I need to finish the route mapping for the UK leg of our trip, I tried it twice this week and had problems with browsers crashing, so I need to persevere with that.  Hopefully my new frame will arrive by the end of next week and Ryan and I can start to plan getting it fitted to my bike.

Training & planning diary – 5 weeks to go.

This week has been a difficult one for training, so here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to this past week:

Monday 27th May
After my punctures at the weekend I spent some time on Sunday night trying to repair my innertube that had been on the bike until last Thursday’s puncture, only to be totally unable to find a hole or any other reason it may be flat.  I pumped it back up and so far have had no problems, but I found myself really nervous about getting a flat tyre.  After work I was feeling very tired and really not in the mood for a longer cycle, but I forced myself to turn left outside work and cycled away from my house.

I didn’t want to cycle too far into the wilds in case anything happened to the tyre, so I stuck to the cycle paths beside the Oxford ring road.  To get any kind of distance I had to go up and down the same stretches quite a lot which got boring quite quickly so after a while I decided to meander around some roads and see where I ended up.  Unfortunately Oxford isn’t really that big so my total distance was a lot shorter then I’d intended as I found myself accidentally cycling home when I didn’t intend to!  A good way to get some mileage in after work and I managed 17 miles.

Cycling to and from work: 20.3 miles

Tuesday 28th May
The usual British problem arrived on Tuesday with the torrential rain and strong winds arriving for both my cycle to and from work. I’m not too keen on a long cycle ride in the rain, especially around city streets as it becomes slightly more dangerous when your visibility is reduced.  Instead of extending my cycle home I arrived back, changed out of my dripping wet clothes and prepared for a stint on the turbo trainer.  I started with a 10 minute warm up of increasing speeds, followed by a few minute-long sprints (how quick can you pedal before you need to throw up?), and then some 5 minute hill climbs (how long can you stand up and pedal before you need to throw up?).  As you can probably tell, these sessions are such a hard push that quite often I feel a little sick, but so far I’ve managed to keep that urge under control

Cycling to and from work: 6.55 Miles
Time on the turbo trainer: 45 minutes
Stretching exercises before bed

Wednesday 29th May
Things start to go a bit pear shaped from today.  Again there is another day of torrential rain, so after I get back from work and clear up the puddles from the hallway I did plan to get the turbo trainer out for another session…..

My bedroom unfortunately has very thin nets instead of curtains so every day this week I’ve been woken up by the sunshine at 5am.  By Wednesday evening I’m so tired I can barely keep myself awake long enough to eat dinner.  At 6.30pm I was in bed!

Cycling to and from work: 6.1 miles 

Thursday 30th May
Another night of hardly any sleep does not put me in the best from of mind for the day ahead.  I did think it would be a good idea to do lots of cycling today but as we’re planning to do a very lot of cycling at the weekend I need to have a few rest days, reluctantly I take today off as well.

Thankfully the eye-mask I ordered from ebay arrived so I may be able to sleep without being woken up by bright sunshine.

Cycling to and from work: 6.55 miles

Friday 31st May
Success!  A full nights sleep at last!

Today I cycle to and from work and then jump straight into the car to head up to Leeds where our weekend adventures start.  When I arrive (a little late thanks to the closed motorway and a next to useless diversion) I eat a massive amount of pasta and garlic bread before we set about some bike maintenance.  I wanted Ryan to have a quick look at my front brake which has becoming increasingly wobbly recently, though not causing me any problems whilst braking.

Ryan had to take the brake off the bike and started to clean it whilst also trying to work out how it had been so wobbly, when he noticed what no one else had so far noticed, including the bike shop I had taken it to previously, there was a vital spring missing from the back of the brake which it needs in order to pull back to its original position after braking so that it doesn’t stay on permanently.

After trying for a while to fashion a spring out of various things found in the garage we made the difficult decision that we weren’t going to be able to do a 100 mile cycle route as planned as it would be too dangerous.  Instead, we decided to get straight out to a cycle shop first thing on Saturday morning to buy a replacement so we could get out for a little bit in the afternoon.

Miles cycled: 6.49

Saturday 1st June
At 9am we were at a large cycle shop in Leeds ready to purchase a new front brake.  Surprisingly, given it is a major chain shop, they didn’t have a brake so we made our way back to the small independent shop near home who we called on the way to find out if he had a brake – and he did!  Everything fixed and ready to go we finally set out on our Saturday cycle at 11:30am and did a really nice 32 mile route.

We had planned to go a bit further, but as time was getting on and we had planned a much longer route for Sunday, we decided to cut it short at 32 miles.

On the route home I started to get a lot of back pain, the kind I used to get before we shortened my stem.  I don’t know why in particular it started to hurt today when it was a short number of miles, but maybe it was the terrible road surface we were on and all the bumps and pot holes that made my grip more tense which caused the pain.  Whatever it was,  Ryan and I decided it might be about time that we look into getting me a new frame.  We spent most of the rest of the evening looking into buying a new frame, or maybe even an entirely new bike for me.

Miles cycled: 32.61

 

Sunday 2nd June
We had a difficult decision on Sunday morning, with Ryan suffering hip pain from cycling the day before, Megan suffering from a bad cough and generally feeling unwell, and this being the last weekend we will all be together before the set off.  What was a more productive way to spend our time?  Megan and I decided to do a really short 7 miles but found the steepest hill we could so it was a testing 7 miles.  I think I managed 25mph going down the hill but Megan was a lot quicker then me, so her confidence going down hill has clearly really improved since January!

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Ready to get going, despite the setbacks

We spent the rest of the afternoon looking at maps of France, plotting routes in the UK, looking up campsites and discussing what was the best thing to do – book them all first or just turn up and see.  Richard seems happy to do the latter, and I’m sure the support team will do a great job finding the tired hungry cyclists somewhere to sleep.  I’m sure we wouldn’t care if it was spot in someone’s garden, we’ll just be happy to rest after a long day on the bike.

We also extended our to-do-list and discussed possible food needs.  This weekend also allowed us to test the various sports drinks we may be able to take and decide on what flavours we like best (an important decision, given one particular drinks tastes like you’re swallowing dirty feet!).  We created plans of what we will need to do each morning and evening of the trip to make sure things go throughly – such as checking the bikes over in the evening for any damage or cleaning that needs to be done, and washing our lycra.  We need to make sure everything runs smoothly so this planning day was vital for the team.

In the evening Ryan and I drove back to Wales as I have the day off work tomorrow.  We spent some time discussing my need for a new bike frame so I emailed the cycle shop in Oxford I go to to ask their advice and to see if they would be able to build it up for me if I bought a new frame – as well as giving my bike a thorough service at the same time.  Hopefully they’ll be able to help out so we can get the bike sorted quickly.

Miles cycled: 7

Thoughts on last week:
There certainly wasn’t as much cycling as I had hoped, but I think we’ve all been feeling a bit under the weather in one way or another, so it was good to take some time to rest.  The important thing about resting at this stage is to make sure we are doing something else productive for the team so it was great that we got to spend so much time planning what to do.  In the coming week I will be finalising exactly what route we’ll be taking through the UK, whilst Megan and Richard finalise the French route and Ryan does Switzerland.  Then we can send each other the route plans so we can start to memorise them to make navigation a little bit easier.  We still have a lot to do in terms of planning as well as training, so the next few weeks are going to be busy!