Tag Archives: Prudential Ride 100

First and last long ride before RideLondon

16 Jul bike close up

I deferred my place in RideLondon last year and had hoped that I would be able to train and take part this year, but things have not gone as smoothly as I had hoped.

I am unable to defer my place again, so I can either take part in the event or keep my fingers crossed that I am lucky enough to get a place again in future. I was erring towards the latter until I read about the launch of the London Classics: “The unique challenge requires participants to run the Virgin Money London Marathon, cycle 100 miles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and swim two miles at Swim Serpentine, the open water swimming festival.” I hope that one day I’ll get a place in London Marathon and am now tempted to add Swim Serpentine to my itinerary for 2018.

Today, I planned a training ride. I agreed that I would cycle out into the New Forest and do a loop via Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard before meeting my husband and in-laws at the Drift Inn.

The ride out of the city is always slow. There are lots of traffic lights and although there is a new section of cycle path, the road is abysmal in places. Finally, I made it to Eling, which is where the enjoyable part of my ride begins. However, just five minutes later, my enjoyment waned…

I cycled across a busy road and was immediately hit by a pungent smell. The road was covered in manure and I assumed that a muck spreader must have recently passed that way.

I cycled on a little further and was surprised to find the traffic at a virtual standstill. As we were not yet into the New Forest, I was not sure of the cause (roaming animals, such as horses, cows and donkeys, often cause the traffic to stop in the Forest). Cars started to turn off and I was able to see the reason for the hold up: 5 pairs of horses and gigs. The gypsies obviously did not want to get split up, so whenever the road widened or there was the possibility for some cars to pass, one of the gigs would pull out and overtake another, which was very frustrating for the queue of traffic. I really didn’t enjoy this part of my ride – the road was covered in excrement and I was stuck behind a car that was belching out hot fumes. I was surprised to see quite a few police 4x4s, so I assumed that they were aware that gig racing might be about to take place.

Finally, at Ipley Cross the gigs turned off and I was able to continue on my ride. I cycled past Beaulieu and headed towards East Boldre before cycling towards Buckler’s Hard and then back towards the Drift Inn.

As I neared the pub, I was able to see that there was an enormous gathering. There were crowds of people in the road, police wearing high-viz jackets, cars parked everywhere and on the scrubland opposite the pub were lots of horses and gigs.

I took my bike into the pub garden where my family were meeting. We had agreed that Baby M would spend some time with her grandparents whilst Stuart joined me for a couple of hours. I had a quick drink and then we were off again.

Stuart had planned a nice route that involved heading back to Beaulieu before heading out towards Exbury Gardens and Lepe beach. I’ve not cycled this way for a long time – I think it was probably back in April last year when I went for a ride with Teri. That time, the road by the beach was covered in sand – fortunately it was clear this time. I’m not particularly familiar with this route, but a lot of it is the same as Solent Half marathon, which I’ve run a couple of times, so it brough back some happy memories.

By the time Stu and I got back to the Drift Inn, the crowds had dispersed and it was as the gypsy flash mob had never been there. We’d noticed a wedding party at the pub when we were there earlier; this time we saw the happy couple having photos taken amongst the trees.

I stopped for a little while to chat with my in-laws and feed M. I also had a quick snack, before leaving to cycle home alone. As I got to Ipley Cross, I noticed some raindrops 😦 This was all the incentive I needed to pick up my pace a bit. Luckily, the rain eased off, but I tried to maintain my pace. I had hoped that I would be able to do my ride without too many hold ups, but the traffic jam earlier meant that I didn’t really have a clear idea of my average pace.

As I got towards home, I hit 110km, just before the timer hit 5 hours. I’ll need to be able to ride another 50km in a fortnight, but am hoping that determination (and a bit of drafting) will get me through.

Have you done RideLondon before? What are your tips?

Evans Rideit! Sportive

12 Feb

My first big cycling event of the year was scheduled to be Evans RideIt! Sportive in Newbury. Three distances were offered:

  • Short: 30 miles/48km
  • Medium: 50 miles/80km
  • Long: 70 miles/112km

I’ve not been doing a lot of cycle training, but the plan was to do the long course with Stuart, Suzanne, Donna and Jules, whilst Liz was going to cycle part way with us before splitting off for a shorter distance… and then we were all going to go to the pub afterwards to celebrate our achievements and Liz’s birthday.

Unfortunately, the day didn’t start as planned – just five miles away from our house, Stuart’s new car flashed on a warning light to alert us to a flat tyre. We pulled off the motorway and stopped on a garage forecourt to call the AA.

We had to wait a while for a mechanic to come to our aid, and realised at that point that we would not arrive in time to start the long course, which had a final start time of 9:45am. This was a real disappointment as I had psyched myself up for that distance.

The mechanic was a jolly chap who clearly thought we were mad to go out cycling on such a cold day with just some lycra clothing on. He soon discovered the cause of our woes – a large nail embedded in the rear tyre – and was able to fix it, so that we could be on our way.

Finally, we arrived at the school where the event was due to start. There were still a few cyclists milling around, including a large contingent from Oxford University.

We found our way to registration, which is where the second problem occurred – I was not on the list of entrants. This meant that I had to fill in some additional paperwork and also further delayed our start.

We then made our way to the start arch where we were able to start immediately as there were no other cyclists around by that point. We passed an older chap and his grandson (who I’m guessing had received his road bike as a Christmas present). We then saw another cyclist returning to the school who waved at us and warned us that there was ice on the first turn.

We cautiously proceeded around the bend and realised that there was plenty of ice (and slush), as well as quite a broken road surface… and a reasonably steep descent. Aaarrgghh! All of the things that make me nervous at once. I was also in a grumpy mood, so this did not cheer me up.

After descending very slowly, there was an incline, where some more cyclists had stopped to repair a puncture.

It wasn’t long before we were on a more attractive country road… and we even managed to start [passing a few people. We then came to a pretty village, and our ride came very close to finishing there, thanks to a female driver who decide that she only needed to look left before pulling out for a side road. Stuart and I both braked sharply and managed to avoid going into the driver, who just gave us a smile and a wave. Why is it that drivers do this?!

I started to warm up and the road surfaces improved, so my mood started to lighten. It was a crisp day, but there wasn’t a lot of wind and there was no rain.

We went down a hill and towards the bottom, I saw a sign pointing off to our right. I called to Stuart, but we had both passed it and were nearly up the next hill. Stu was sure we were going the right way, so we kept cycling until we came to a main road. We were then convinced we had gone the wrong way, so we retraced our pedal-strokes and, sure enough, there was a sign just tucked down a side road. We followed it for a while and encountered a few other cyclists.

After a while, we came to a T-junction and noticed a sign off to our left pointing down a country lane. It was quite gravelly, but seemed quiet and wasn’t too much of a steep descent, so I thought it would be OK.

Part-way down, Stuart shouted to me that he had a puncture. We pulled over and whilst Stuart replaced his inner tube, I helpfully took a photo and had a snack break.

IMG_3843

One of the reasons why I was looking forward to this event was that I had decided it would be when I would try out some new training fuel: honey stinger strawberry waffle.

Honey stinger strawberry waffle

The lovely people at ProBikeKit sent me some samples earlier this year and I’ve been eager to try them out. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews of honey stinger products, but they’ve mostly been on American blogs and I’ve not seen honey stinger products in any UK shops, so it’s great to find a supplier.

I have several simple criteria for training food:

  • It needs to be easy to carry and eat on the go
  • It needs to be a reasonable price
  • It needs to taste good

So, my first criteria. It’s a flat package that is about 8cmx10cm, so it will easily fit in a jersey pocket or a bento box. It is also easy to rip open. (This might seem like a strange criteria, but it’s based on my experience with a PowerBar product that tasted great, but was so sticky after an hour in a jersey pocket that I could barely peel the wrapping off it, which is not ideal when you’re trying to fuel on the go!)

Honey Stinger waffles come in a box of 16 from ProBikeKit and the cost per box is £18.99, so each waffle is just under £1.19 each. This seems to me to be a reasonable price when compared with similar nutrition products.

So, the product was winning on two counts, but the make or break criteria is tasting good. I will admit that I have a bit of a weakness for stroopwafels, you know those delicious Dutch waffles that are sandwiched together with caramel:

stroopwafels

©ilovestroopwafels.com

So, how did the honey stinger waffle measure up to a stroopwafel? It was surprisingly similar. It was a lovely, slightly crumbly waffle that was held together by a delicious strawberry honey centre. It smelled quite sweet, but was neither too sweet nor too chewy. I was also pleasantly surprised that the centre of the waffle was a natural colour – I had expected it to be pink like the wrapper! There is also clear nutritional information on the wrapper, which explained a key selling point of the product: most of the ingredients are organic.

So, my final verdict was that I LOVE THIS PRODUCT! If you’re out cycling, hiking or ultrarunning, I think it would be the ideal product to take with you.

So, back to the ride. Whilst I was munching, Stu was busy replacing his innertube. At one point, a group of cyclists came up the hill towards us. They explained that they had followed the signs, but at the bottom of the long hill, there were three possible routes and they couldn’t identify where they should be going. They realised that they had gone the wrong way and were turning back.

A cyclo cross guy then came down the hill, so we stopped him and explained the problem, so he turned back. Finally, the older chap and his grandson came down the hill. We said that we thought we had gone the wrong way. The older man said that they were just ahead of the tail cyclist who was removing signs. We cycled up the hill together and encountered the back marker who was removing signs. He acknowledge that the sign was pointing the wrong way… and seemed to believe that it had been set up wrongly that way, rather than being sabotaged by someone.

It wasn’t long before we were at the feed station. I ate a couple of pieces of flap jack and had a bit of my water and then we were ready to go again. Although we were on the short route by this time, we had the option of the short or the medium route back, with one being about 5 miles longer than the other. I figured that we might as well do the medium route, so that the event was slightly better value for money.

It didn’t take long before we were on a fast and flat open road. My mood had lightened and I started to pick the pace up a bit. I could see a group of three cyclists up ahead and felt a little frustrated as they were spread out across the road. Fortunately, they pulled in a bit, so that Stu and I were able to pass them.

It didn’t take long before we could see where the event had started, and there, waiting in the gateway, was Liz. I shouted and waved, but it took her a few seconds (minutes?) to recognise Stu and I. She explained that it wouldn’t be long before Suzanne, Donna and Jules arrived. Soon we spotted them – oops, they were the cyclists that I had struggled to pass on the open road.

Despite the rubbish start to the day, this is how I’m feeling about cycling right now:

hrm bike

I’m working hard on being more positive this year. I’m not doing brilliantly, but I’m trying to bear this in mind:

Cycling motivation

I’ve been reading some interesting things online this month, including:

I’ve also learned that I’ve been rejected (yet again) for the Prudential London Ride 100 :’-( (Actually, I’ve got so many challenges on this year, that it’s not a bad thing!)