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!

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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?