Tag Archives: cycling

232/365 – Pushing the cycling distance

With only two weekends left before our 60 mile cycle between London and Eastbourne, Elaine and I decided to get out early on Sunday for a long cycle. We planned to do 40 miles between our house at St Albans, and set off at 9.30 into a stuffy summer morning. I love being out at that time in the morning as the roads are quiet and there’s a sleepiness hanging over the city still. On Sunday, it wasn’t just the city that was sleepy – I struggled to get started despite getting more than 8 hours sleep on both Friday and Saturday. 

Thankfully the first section was flat as we headed down to the canal in East London through the Tottenham Marshes and near the Lee Valley canals. Stopping in Waltham Abbey (where I’m pictured above) for a look around, my energy levels were still low so a coffee and some food were devoured in the sun. In retrospect, I’ve realised that I need a more substantial breakfast before setting out in future. 

The next stage was a lot easier after this nourishment – we headed along the Lee Valley canal path to Broxbourne and then headed in land on quiet country roads. After the flat terrain of the canal paths, Baas Hill and the roads that followed were a fun challenge. We were making better time now too without having to stop constantly for pedestrians and runners. 

Sadly, it wasn’t long until the rain started and it went from drizzling to pouring in what felt like seconds. At this point, our route took us off road and onto dirt paths through woods and on rough paths along fields. I’m sure it would have been beautiful on a dry day, but given how heavy the air was I kept waiting for the crack thunder. Thankfully it never happened – nor did I spot one of tornadoes that had been forecast although when I started to feel tired I was having fun imagining different ways to escape one if I did spot one on the horizon.

Drenched right through, the ride  stopped being fun and at the proposed last stop – at Hatfield – we decided to call it a day when we found out trains here went to our local station. Before catching a train, we dried off as best we could in the local pub and got ourselves a wee warmer to put some colour back in our washed out faces.

All in all, we managed around 32 miles in around 4 hours. While this felt like an achievement given the climate and terrain, it was just half of what we’ll need to do in a few weekends time. 

214/365 – Bike ride in the sun

With the 60 mile cycle looming in my mind, I dragged Elaine out for our longest cycle yet yesterday – a 45 jaunt around London.

We took a scenic route through quiet City back streets, flew past an ever busy Westminster sparkling in the sun and along the speedy cycle highway to the Chelsea bridge. From there, we cut up by the statuesque buildings on Museum Road to the Royal Geographical society’s building. At the 20km point, we took a break to rest heavy legs while checking out the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition (pics below).   Stretching out in the sun like cats, the thought of doing at least another 20km was not pleasant. But remembering we hadnt even cycled a quarter of the distance we’ll be doing in five weeks time gave us a kick to keep moving. 

Coming back through Hyde Park (Elaine picture below dodging families) and Chelsea, the last downhill free fall to get to Finsbury Park was met with cheers and grins as we made it to the 28 mile mark. 

 

While it’s less than half of the distance we’re putting ourselves through in September, each new milestone makes it that bit more do-able. 

The best thing for me was that I felt really strong for it after a chilled Saturday and an early night. The steroid reduction didn’t make any difference and in all honesty I could have kept going. As my parents are down to London next weekend, we’ll probably get out for a shorter cycle to keep the strength up with a 45-60miler planned for the weekend after with one of my workmates. It’s getting exciting now. 

208/365 – Last minute cycling training 

In just under five week’s time, Elaine and I are scheduled to cycle 60 miles from London to Eastbourne. Due to busy weekends over the last few months, I’ve not had time to get out to build up the distances. Starting to reach panic mode, yesterday I hopped onto my bike and headed out into the sunshine. 

Up until this point, I haven’t cycled more than 20kms and I wanted to do closer to 30 miles. Heading to an old familiar route where I can do undisturbed laps around the outer and inner circle of Regents Park. With the sun blazing, I pushed hard to get through the Camden smog. 

Already with the heat and my body not  feeling at it’s strongest, I could tell 30 miles would be a push. Driving myself around hard, I gave myself a couple of breaks to relax in the sun meaning I was able to do around 40km (26 miles). 

Today my legs are feeling tight but in a satisfying way and I’m ready to try 30 miles or even 60km depending on how I’m feeling next weekend. 

115/365 – Day before the duathlon

Tomorrow is a big day for me – my first ever duathlon. Although it is a mini one (4km run, 20km cycle and 4km run) I’m excited, nervous and intrigued about how it will go. 

From my experience of doing running events, the way you behave the day before massively dictates how you find the run. I’ve done events where I’ve been training regularly but the day before I’ve misbehaved (ate the wrong thing, had a few drinks, smoked a lot etc) and I’ve found it a real struggle/been unable to finish. Once I ended up in an ambulance after passing out. There was another time when I didn’t know I was doing a half marathon until the day before but because I rested and ate well on that day, I finished it comfortably. 

At this point I am feeling strong and well rested after a 10 hour sleep. I carbed up last night with spaghetti bolognaise and intend to do so again tonight. I am drinking a lot of water and plan to do so for the rest of the day. I haven’t done any running or cycling since Tuesday and the muscle aches I was feeling earlier in the week have vanished. I’ve done a light run with Elaine and Sarah to loosen up before the journey through to Essex for the event. 

Other than have an early one tonight, have no alcohol and make sure I eat carbs, at this stage it feels like there isn’t anything else that I can do. I turned down a Bermondsey craft beer crawl today which was definitely the right decision although it was difficult at the time. 

We will head through to Essex in the early evening to make sure we’ve got lots of time to wind down before bed. Then it’s game on. 

101/365 – 14 days to my first ever duathlon 

I figured out on Sunday that my first ever duathlon is only two weeks away. Sure it’s a mini one – 4km run, 20km cycle, 4km run – but that doesn’t stop me feeling worried about the distance (particularly cycling distance).

I spoke to my fellow duathlete Sarah during last week about how she is getting on and she’d felt good doing a half version of the distances (something I hadn’t attempted yet).   It’s my first sporting event of the year and the nerves are setting in. I’ve been running and cycling as regularly as possible but decided with the time left I should do a trial version to see how I coped with the distances. 

Stage 1 – 4km run

I set my alarm for bright and early yesterday morning so that I could do a trial run of the distances and still have time to do something else with my Sunday afternoon. Dragging Elaine with me, we set off to do a 4km close to home. Although it was a shorter distance than I was used to doing, I always find running first thing in the morning a challenge. My legs felt heavy, the distance felt much longer than it should have and I could feel that I hadn’t digested my breakfast and morning medication properly. Also, conditions weren’t great. Although the sun was out there was a very strong wind making breathing more of a challenge than it should have been. Part 1 was a bit of a drag and I was dreading the next 24km.  

Stage 2 – 20km cycle

Without a doubt, this is the section I was most concerned about. I had done the same distance a few weeks before but never bookended by runs. It took about five minutes after the run to get all our kit sorted and bikes ready, but once we got going, I started to enjoy myself. The wind that had been challenging during stage 1 had died down and the sun was heating up so that it was even warm in the shade now. 

We took the same busy route through Camden to Regent’s Park with a couple of challenging hills that seemed like they would never end. Once we had reached the park, we raced five 1km laps of the inner park road to see what time we could do it in. I managed in 15 minutes and 20 seconds which I was happy with. We then took a 20 minute break stretching out in the sun (I was craving a caffeine fix) before heading back home. Although I had the traffic lights with me on the way home, I was still overtaken by casual cyclists and a grandad out with his small grandson who was holding onto the front handlebars. Think it’s safe to say I’m not going to be the next Bradley Wiggins. 

We ended up doing 21km by the time we reached home and my legs were starting to feel like jelly as I stepped off the bike and got ready for stage 3. This was the bit I had been waiting for.

  

Stage 3 – 4km run

Within the first few steps I knew I wouldn’t be able to race the last 4km in. The switch between cycling and running made it feel like I had to train my legs how to run again – gradually – or I might fall over. I ran the same route as earlier still lacking any spring in my step – here I was thinking the running part would be easy.

Consciously trying to do a better time than the first 4km, where I was coasting, I managed to shave about three and a half minutes off by sprinting the last half km. The knowledge that I would get to stop at the end driving my tired legs on. 

It took me around two hours (excluding breaks) to complete the duathlon. After I stopped, I had enough energy to do some cleaning and go for a light walk before finding a comfortable armchair to relax in. 

I’m feeling much more comfortable about the duathlon being days away now that I’ve tested myself. As long as I’m feeling good and get enough rest in the week before, I am now confident I’ll be able to cross the finish line which is more than I could say yesterday. 

76/365 – Going the distance

As you can see from the unattractive helmet photo, today I did my first long cycle of 2015. With the mini duathlon around a month away, I had been putting off getting out on my bike for a long haul spin until the weather was a bit warmer (and drier).  I am definitely a fair weather cyclist and have no idea how people can muster the energy in the freezing cold. 

With the sun shining, I decided today was right and Elaine and I managed 21.5kms in under two hours. We cycled to Regent’s Park and did laps on the quiet, scenic roads there. Considering the amount of stopping and starting that cycling in London requires, the time wasn’t too bad at all. 

  

Even more importantly, physically I felt and feel great. While my legs are tired, I think the strength and cycling work I’ve been doing in the gym has paid off. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had a very relaxed weekend. 

Last year when I started doing long cycles, my arms and legs would be shaky for at least a day afterwards. While I’m prepared for the doms (delayed muscle onset soreness) tomorrow, it seems my hard work has paid off.

Although the prospect of doing a 4km run before and after the cycle is still daunting, I feel more comfortable saying I know I can do it now. 

  

66/365 – Thinking outside the box and raising awareness for myasthenia

So I had an email from one of my readers the other day with an innovative way of raising awareness that he has put into practice. Using Strava, the cycling app, he had renamed a section of a popular cycling route to ‘myasthenia madness’ to make people, who also bike that same section, curious about what it means. Many of them will most likely search the word ‘myasthenia’ in google and up myasthenia gravis will pop.

He wrote the email in response to what I wrote here about the importance of raising awareness and how it has the potential to save lives.  Perhaps one of these cyclists will also be in the medical profession, or know someone who is, and it will encourage them to learn, or remind themself, about MG. Then, as the universe tends to do, they may see a patient who hasn’t been diagnosed yet with symptoms that are familiar. Cycling that route could stop that patient being hospitalised with a crisis or worse. 

His idea is a solid one and I feel there is something bigger in it. To get people to know about myasthenia gravis, we need to make it a phrase that they hear or see a lot. One that they want to look up and tell people about. But how do we do that? I’m asking you reader, how? This could be a collection of small actions (in numbers reached not in effort) like what my reader did. Is there something you could do? 

I’m thinking about other ways I can raise awareness – the one thought I have had so far is to tie in a myasthenia fitness account on Instagram and tap into all the popular hashtags on there including fitness, diet and medical ones. I haven’t seen anything similar and as I spend a good bit of time training it would be straightforward. 

Anyway, I leave it with you the challenge of thinking laterally about awareness raising.