London to The Lakes

Day 1: 

It was a bit of a last minute panic getting the bike ready for the trip but it was sorted. Thank you as always to the legends at SBC Cycles for helping out. I opted to take my Quirk fully loaded now with Shimano Ultegra/ Dura Ace Hydro mix and a set of custom built carbon Parcours Wheels with a SON Dynamo hub. The bike has a huge range of gears with the 11-52 casette which works in conjunction with the Shimano Ultegra RX mech. The RX mech has a built in clutch system which keeps the chain tight. Perfect for off road! 

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Anyway back to the riding. The goal was to get to Manchester, off road, by the evening. Using Komoot I planned a route mainly taking in gravel trails all the way up. 320 odd kilometres was going to be a big ask but a fun one. The first leg, London to Market Harborough for lunch. It seemed logical to me to stop around the 150km mark to re-fuel when riding fully loaded on a bike. Getting out of London can always be a bit tricky. But opting to take a path less travelled (so to speak) meant it was surprisingly quicker than I expected. Running along canal paths and footpaths in no time.

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The Second Leg- Market Harborough to Manchester

Fed and watered, it was time to start part 2 of the day, Market Harborough to Manchester. This was going to be the tougher part of the day's ride, much more climbing plus the morning in the legs already. Hitting along old train lines, the route was pretty darn quiet with views left, right and centre. One of the parts that I loved was cycling through the old railway tunnels. These are completely pitch black so lights on, shades off going through these!

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The route would climb over the Peak District, an area known for its natural beauty and also some incredible gravel trails. Climbing up the Peaks was slow and steady but once up high, the views were spectacular. Parts of the route I created followed the Eroica route which was taking place over the weekend. Doing some of those trails on vintage bikes.. Not too sure I would be wanting to do that one with skinny tyres and crazy gearings! Finally one last climb up and then with the sun setting the long descent into Manchester was coming. My legs needed the rest rolling into the city, some food and some well earned rest.

Day 2: Manchester to The Lakes

Up bright and early for a more casual day than yesterday. Mainly on roads but with a chunk of climbing. The lakes isn't flat after all. My aim was to get to Kirkby Lonsdale to then cycle around a loop to meet my friends who maybe took the more sensible idea of getting a train or driving up. For me avoiding the M6 was always the aim and trains are relatively dull after all. Today I mainly chose to keep to roads after yesterday's off road fun. Rolling through Blackburn I came across what looked like a good bike shop ti grab a bit more food and some supplies.

The chaps at Ewood cycles were incredibly welcoming. I was offered a cup of coffee and a cheese toastie befire I jumped back on the road, suddenly feeling refreshed and content by the kind hospitality I had been shown. I also managed to get some waterproof overshoes... Saturday was looking like it may be a wet one... Once again thanks so much to the chaps at Ewood! 

Leaving the Northern cities it started to feel all the more familiar, the Lakes were coming! I finally rolled into Kirkby Lonsdale, feeling pretty empty but also with a few hours to kill before my friends in 10000kmcc would be rolling around. I found a cafe and proceesed to eat my way through their menu. 

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Finding Friends

I've been honoured to ride with the chaps from 10000kmcc for a fair few years now. What Richard has done with that is really create an amazing community of friends that are so special to everyone involved. I thoroughly look forward to our weekends away and the stories that come from it. This weekend in the Lakes we had 17 of us staying in a farm house and riding together. I chose to ride the Friday evening route the opposite way to everyone else to catch them. My tired legs definitely looking forward to seeing some familiar faces. We were then staying in a huge farm house for the rest of the weekend and the bags would be able to be removed from the bike. Chip shop dinner and laughs in the evening

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Day 3: The Lakes (In torrential weather)

Theres two different sides to the Lake District, a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. The stunning summery days in contrast with the very cold and very wet days. Both are equally beautiful but also equally challenging. We all woke up in the morning ready to get going, rain already starting. The overshoes were on that I bought on the cycle up and all the layers were on.

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My aim was simple. Survive to Lunch. Lunch was Chesters, a stunning little streamside cafe with amazing food options, locally roasted coffee and everything locally sourced. My legs were tired from the last few days. I knew riding in the cold rain was going to take it out on me and I also knew a few people would be stopping at lunch. That was my aim, then to Stay in Chesters for a while and warm up/ dry up and eat. From there I called it for the day. A few brave souls carried on hitting The Struggle. 

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Day 4: Dales Day

Dales Day! Today we were heading further East to tackle some of the roads in the Yorkshire Dales. The Coal Road being one I've been really excited to cycle up for some time. I've heard such good things from it and I wasn't let down at all. Another long day in the saddle with great company meant for some tired legs and cattle hearding towards the latter end of the ride. Eventually rolling back into the farm house ready to devour all the ice cream we had. Time to pack and get the train back to London. What an amazing weekend of adventures. Now to rest the legs..

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Thanks for an amazing weekend 10000kmcc and Cold Dark North. Photos by Ele Suggett, Richard Frazier, Ashley Bard and Toby Cummins 

Rebuilding from illness #ProjectShingles

The festive period is often a time where we relax, socialise and spend time with families. Unfortunately this wasn't quite the case for me. Having spent a big year on the bike (see below stats from veloviewer)

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As you can see from the stats above it's been a big year. Lots of crazy challenges and experiences. Sadly towards the end of the year I started to feel unwell. The amount I was getting out on the bike started to drop off as well. After a visit to the doctors we found out I had a mild case of blood poisoning and more worryingly, a bad case of shingles. 

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.

It's estimated around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox.

New blisters may appear for up to a week, but a few days after appearing they become yellowish in colour, flatten and dry out.

Scabs then form where the blisters were, which may leave some slight scarring and loss of skin pigment.

The pain may be a constant, dull or burning sensation, and its intensity can vary from mild to severe. 

You may have sharp stabbing pains from time to time, and the affected area of skin will usually be tender.

In some cases shingles may cause some early symptoms that develop a few days before the painful rash first appears.

These early symptoms can include:

  • a headache
  • burning, tingling, numbness or itchiness of the skin in the affected area
  • a feeling of being generally unwell
  • a high temperature (fever)

An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks. It usually affects a specific area on just one side of the body.

It doesn't cross over the midline of the body, an imaginary line running from between your eyes down past the belly button.

Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, but the chest and tummy (abdomen) are the most common areas.

It is an incredibly frustrating and painful virus that causes you to basically be bed bound. The thing I have found tough is the fatigue. The pain is bad but continually needing to sleep shows how it is tough. I have spoken with the likes of Dean Downing who has suffered from it before. Dean's advice was: 

'Don’t mess around with shingles. If you don’t rest and if you come back too soon. It will ruin you for a long long time.' 

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Dean had it when he lived in Belgium. 2002 winter at the end of January. In his own words it was caused by too much training, too much stress and too much partying. He was with a doctor, 3 months off and on May 1st started riding and training from scratch. Later that year he won British Crit Champs in September.

Here is how my training has looked over the last few weeks. Very few rides just to keep the legs going. These are low zone rides and generally done inside. I have been very lucky to have the support of my coach, Ken and nutritionalist Will Girling to help try to aid recovery as quickly as possible. Will is the nutritionalist for Pro cycling team ONE PRO

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It's amazing having support from people like Dean, a true British Cycling great looking out and keeping an eye out for me. The recovery will be slow and long but I'll get there! 

Here's to 2018!

Red Bull Time Laps

The Red Bull Timelaps held at Windsor Great Park. The event itself was something a little different; a 25-hour race between teams comprised of 4 riders. I was in a team (Walrus) with YouTube vlogger, Francis Cade, British Land Speed Record holder, Ken Buckley and pro cyclist, Lawrence Carpenter. We knew this was a team with real potential, but in reality, we were going out there to have fun. Below

Lawrence was our first rider up. It seemed right to have someone who had the most recent racing experience starting, as the start of these events can be a bit messy. We were right to do this as 2 laps in there was a nasty crash and the race was suspended for an hour or so. With that in mind, when the race restarted, Lawrence was back out on the circuit.

Each lap was 6.8 km with about 50 meters of climbing. There were a couple of sharp turns and gravelly corners, but generally it was an OK course. I went into this thinking it would be more of a time trial, but in reality, this was a race.

As a team, we figured out a strategy; we aimed to do hour-and-a-half stints at what was supposed to be our threshold (it ended up much harder than that). I then did a big stint in the night to get Lawrence lined up to do the power hour. During the power hour, every lap of a different, shorter course counts for two. After this we all aimed for 2-hour stints until the race ended at 12:00 midday on Sunday.

Our team came 3rd in the Men’s category and 5th overall out of 150 teams! We managed 133 laps, with a fastest lap time of 9:25, averaging 11:18 per lap. During my three stints, I averaged 315, 268 and 246 watts. The pace was something I really hadn't quite expected and each of us going so hard on our first stints helped secure a strong position during the night hours and whilst it rained the next morning'.

You can see what happened by watching Francis Cade's and Lawrence Carpenter's  vlogs:

Silverstone 9 man Team TT

It was that time again.. 9 men, a race circuit, 3 laps. This time there was a very different goal. To win. I was asked to join the chaps at Spokes BPC (2016 winners of the 9man TTT) for what was going to be a painful 3 laps of Silverstone Circuit. 

 9 man team made up of Spokes BPC sponsored riders and development team.

9 man team made up of Spokes BPC sponsored riders and development team.

Now we all know this probably is not something that sorts me perfectly. I have been training for endurance over what I would call a balls out hard effort for maybe 20 mins. The team had some real credentials, British Landspeed Record Holder, some very competitive crit, track and cyclocross pros and juniors. And me. Needless to say I was a bit nervous but we knew there was one objective for me, to get the team up to speed and firing all cylinders out of the start gate. Thanks to my Verve Infocrank we know I have a very good 5-30 second power which would be enough to get the team out the gate and up to speed and then attempt to hold on..

So the bike I chose to ride:

 Focus Izalco Max Etap with Verve Infocrank and DT Swiss tubs

Focus Izalco Max Etap with Verve Infocrank and DT Swiss tubs

I opted to ride on my Focus Izalco MAX Etap, the lightest, fastest and most bad-ass bike I own. The bike is fitted with a Verve Infocrank with some big chain rings. Zipp finishing kit and a Fizik Antares carbon railed saddle. The wheels were borrowed by my friend Olly Bridgewood (Cycling Weekly Editor) which are a set of carbon DT Swiss Tubs.

We headed out, I did my job and managed to last about a lap and a half. The pace was obviously relentless. You are allowed to drop 4 men in the team and we did that, leaving the 4 strongest riders in the field for the last lap or so. The result was...

 SECOND PLACE!

SECOND PLACE!

We managed 2nd place! Not quite 1st as last year but only just into second place. An incredible team performance all round!

#107for107

107 FOR 107: CYCLIST CHRIS HALL COMPLETES 11,550KM ENDURANCE RIDE

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Taken from the press release for 107for107:  

Endurance cyclist Chris Hall has completed his mission to ride 107 kilometres every day for 107 days.

 Chris has cycled at least 107km each day since December 16th - battling snow, suspected food poisoning and brutal storms - and triumphantly crossed the finish line on his final ride at the Tour of Flanders sportive on April 1.

 A retail designer from East London and cycling’s answer to Forest Gump, Chris covered 12,674.6km in just over three months to raise awareness of a vital school called the Pace centre.

 Chris, 27, is no stranger to tough cycling challenges. Last summer he became the first person to cycle for 24 hours around London’s Richmond Park. This time he has gone even bigger - slogging it out for at least five hours on the bike every day alongside his full-time job.

 THE RULES

 The rules of the 107 for 107 challenge are simple. At least 107 kilometres must be ridden each day from December 16th 2016 until April 1st 2017 - rolling over distance to the next day is not allowed. There are no rest days. All distance must be covered on the road or a Wahoo smart turbo trainer due to their accuracy and ability to replicate road gradient. Rollers are not allowed. Official distance will be uploaded to Strava.

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 THE REASON

 Pace is a school in Aylesbury, Bucks, dedicated to transforming the lives of children up to the age of 18 with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy. The charity is founded on the belief that every child has the ability to learn and make progress, whatever physical or sensory challenges they face.  A group of specialist teachers and therapists create programmes to support each of the 107 pupils and their families, helping them to unlock their potential.

 Chris explained: “I was first introduced to Pace through my cycling club, Ripcor. The club has been fundraising for the school for over ten years and some of the members have children who went there.

 “Each of the 107 children at Pace face daily challenges. Whether it’s waking up, getting to and from school or inside the classroom, every element of their day requires complex planning. But seeing what Pace enables them to achieve, it’s just incredible. I want to make more people aware that schools like this exist and that they need funding to keep going.

 “I knew I wanted take on an endurance challenge which also relies on careful daily planning. The number 107 has become special to me, I even wear it on my jersey. So riding for 107 days just seemed like a no-brainer!

 “Physically I was all over the place, mentally I was all over the place, but there was never really a doubt in my head about whether I’d be able to get up the next day and ride 107km again. I just told myself I haven’t got a choice.”

 Caroline Bennett, Head of Fundraising at Pace, said: “When we found out what Chris is doing we were just amazed. The school exists to give children with motor disorders the tools they need to develop communications skills, access their education and gain their independence. People like Chris are vital in helping us continue that work, through raising awareness and donations. We’re so honoured to have him supporting our children.”

 HOW DID HE DO IT?

 With only so many hours in the day, planning was key. The majority of Chris’ days usually began at 4.30am, when he headed out in and around London to start racking up kilometres before work. He then had to jump back on the bike after work and finish the distance - while somehow managing to fit sleeping, stretching and a whole lot of eating.

 Managing fatigue was a constant battle. Chris’ coach, Ken Buckley, was closely monitoring his daily heart rate, speed and power data to help him limit the effects of so much overtraining.

 Chris explained: “A big part of being able to do this challenge was having the right tools in place. Having good tech and good kit I could rely on day in, day out was essential.

 “But not getting a rest day was pretty brutal. It’s such a physical battle and Ken has been vital in helping to manage that. He could see when I’m getting tired, when I needed to hold back and helped me work out how best to manage the distance each day, so I had the best chance possible of completing it.”

 IT’S NOT BEEN AN EASY JOURNEY

 Chris has faced plenty of hurdles during the challenge - isolation, a severe sickness bug, not to mention the typically terrible British weather.

 He explained: “I’ve definitely had my low points. Those times when I’ve cycled through the rain and the snow, and freezing my fingers to the point I thought they were going to drop off. I was even out through Storm Doris! Having that headwind to battle was painful. I looked down and I was doing 500 watts and 15kph, it was pretty crippling.

 “On Day 39 I got so sick I couldn’t even leave the house. I’m pretty sure it was food poisoning. I had to stay off work and I was going between the bike and the toilet for two days. All I wanted to do is curl up in bed, but I knew I still had to get the distance done. It took me 9 hours to complete the distance on the turbo one day, I physically had no energy to turn the pedals.

 “It shows what a big mental battle this whole thing is. And getting through that was a stubbornness more than anything. It’s the worst my body’s ever felt. But I knew there couldn’t be many days worse than that, so knowing that I got through that was a sort of personal boost.

 “I also had to do a lot of riding on my own, and there were times when it felt isolating. One of the things getting me through this is the support from the cycling community, both friends and strangers. It’s been both amazing and humbling. Having random people show up to give me company out on rides, and sending encouraging messages online, it makes a big difference. It’s what makes the challenge doable for me.”

One of the biggest boosts for Chris came in his final week of the challenge, on day 103, when more than 60 riders turned up at London’s Regent’s Park at 7am to join him for laps.

 Chris, who had put a call out on social media for friends and strangers to join his his ride, was overwhelmed by the turn-out. He said: "When I turned up at the park and saw the huge group of people it was pretty surreal.

 "Obviously with so many miles to do, I was often riding alone and a lot of the time in the dark so that can be quite isolating. I guess when you're wrapped up in a challenge like this you end up a bit in your own bubble, not realising who is looking in.

"Seeing so many friends and strangers all show up to ride was so humbling. The company really has been priceless. It just goes to show the amazing camaraderie of the cycling community, I’m incredibly proud to be part of that."

Source: 107for107pacecentre

London Cyclocross League 2016-17 Round 5

Round 5 at London's iconic Herne Hill, always a magical place with a fantastic turnout and brilliant heckling. It's always great as you get to line up with mates who often are not able to make it to some of the further afield races. This race will stand in the memory as a special one. It was my first seeded race of the season. You never forget when your name gets called out and you have to roll to the start. Obviously quicker guys are behind you but its satisfying to know that you've been able to get a few meters ahead. 

 Attacus CC, Ripcor and East London Fixed, 3 different teams, but firstly 3 friends. 

Attacus CC, Ripcor and East London Fixed, 3 different teams, but firstly 3 friends. 

Herne Hill itself, a course that is notoriously technical, lots of sharp climbs, turns and mixes of surfaces, there is always a person waiting to watch a crash, slip or wobble. You start inside the velodrome and switch in and out of it, traveling out the back into the rough land which most people don't know about. 

 Hurdles are always a crowd pleaser. Photo by Kamal Balgobin

Hurdles are always a crowd pleaser. Photo by Kamal Balgobin

A mix of sharp steep climbs, where the only option is to run and hurdles keep the hecklers in certain areas, hoping for that slight slip or incident. This race itself was a fast one, grass trails tend to be. 

A huge thank you for everyone who came down to watch, heckle, pinch/ slap the derriere. Special mentions have to go to the ladies from 5th Floor, East London Fixed, Team Full Demin Jacket and our friends at Brixton Cycles. 

 

Strava file below: