Training for the Next Ride

I have had Doris for almost a year, We’ve trained in Thanet, but have done a few longer rides too, what a great way to see the best of Kent. Sadly the driving rain and the cloud of today was not the way to do it. So if you visited Kent today for the Viking Ride, and did the whole course or just part of it, well done you, if you dropped out like me, I hope you got to see some of sights. Anyway here are a few pictures from the the Viking ride on a sunny day, when it looks quite different.

L2B posterLondon_to_Brighton_Bike_Ride_2013-_London_to_Brighton_Bike_Ride_2013-7132313_DSC_9770Inspirational DorrisFilling up, Thanet Cauliflower
Original London to Brighton PosterStop on brow of hillStop on brow of hillTshirt Painting
London_to_Brighton_Bike_Ride_2013-_London_to_Brighton_Bike_Ride_2013-7133323_DSC_6875 - Version 2
After the action, PizzaDoris gets TLCDoris makes it home to MargateFCBT2096-cp20x30-53437-952Y3miles to Canterbury9.15 start time,
Doris, a set on Flickr.

Post ride preparation, Viking Ride

I havent really done much preparation for the Viking Ride tomorrow, normally I’m re-searching route maps, elevation detail and planning pit stops about every 25 miles.

Getting to the official start of an organised ride, with bike and without excess-luggage is often more of a challenge than actually doing the ride, this will be an exceptionally easy ride for me tomorrow, with a late start time of 10am, and a start just 4.5 miles from home, most of which is down hill and if you ask me a quite a good pre-ride, warm up.

Starting at the Viking ship, and straight into the ship to summit (where if there are not too many people, and weather allows, I hope to beat a personal best, and improve my position from 213th on the leader board, or a much more respectable 9th if you only look at the women!)  We will have a steady climb up from the coast at Ramsgate, a few short but steep hills through Broadstairs, a climb up from Ramsgate, and  after that there is a long downhill section through Margate and Westbrook, and along to Minnis Bay, and an even longer costal flat path,  almost all the way to Whitstable.  The climb into Canterbury might need a it of preparation, it would be smart to plan a food stop somewhere before then – Maybe a few Oysters, which would make a change form the normal banana and jelly babies, or perhaps I’ll just keep going.

Crab and Winkle route marker

The six mile Crab and Winkle way, which was an old railway line, has a bit of a hill, into Canterbury but not too bad and very easily do-able, and then the advantage of living at sea level, it’s always downhill home!

Recently I have been plagued with punctures, seriously I need to by a new tyre, as my rear on has a nasty glass cut in it, and the tubes get damaged, not ridden since recently fixed again, so I’m just hoping it holds out and I’m not fixing flats at the side of the road.

It’s not too late, you too can sign up for tomorrow’s ride,  or you can compete agains me in on Strava, if you dare?

Ride through the garden of England.

A wonderful morning out cycling with new friends.  A few hills and the Beautiful Garden of Kent with orchards of pear and apple, ready for harvesting we rode out to Ash where we stopped for lunch.  The ride also took in some of the best of Thanet’s  beaches and sunshine.

No matter where I cycle all road’s seem to lead to Sandwich – not really somewhere I know,  just somewhere and somehow, I always seem to end up, we stopped at Pegwell Bay before the climb up from the Viking Ship and a few hills around the coast from Ramsgate and Broadstairs to clock up a few kilometres, before heading home.

It was great riding out with new friends, to have a bit of motivation, a push to go further, and a bit of competition on a few of the Strava segments.  Shelly who is lives around the corner,  is a bit of a geek, a fellow Strava user too, which helps to improve speeds along a few of the Strava segments.   Today we both picked up a few digital trophies.

I’m rather proud Tivoli Sprint section, only because I’m at the top of the leader-board, well until I get beaten  (Scroll down to the women’s leader-board and take a look!) My friends had better watch out, because I plan to beat you on some of the hills too!


Two punctures repaired, one by the side of the road.  Chunk of glass in tyre missed on fixing the first,  and then, a second.  Luckily I was not far from Mum’s so I walked the bike to her garden, had a coffee, and got a lift home to pick up the car and a second spare tube. Refitting the back wheel, in Mums garden, certainly more plesent than the side of the road. Mum cooked us both lunch which was yummy too.  Ops, over inflated the tube till it went bang, just like a burst balloon, certainly it made us all jump.

Took the frame and the wheel in the car, to St Peters Cycle shop to pick up a spare tube, they fitted and inflated it too.  At home I managed to refit the wheel a second time, although got  completely filthy doing so.  At least Doris has two inflated and fitted wheels and is running well, she has even had a clean, and some oil, I had a hot shower before spending the evening, watching T.V. while glueing and patching the first tube.

I have learnt a bit about fixing punctures at the side of the road!   Might be an idea to put some rubber gloves into the saddle bag, not that I’ve got a thing about rubber!  Nor that you want to glue glove to your inner tubes, check the tyre for damage and sharp things, and not to over-inflate the tube.    Can you cut up and old tube to make patches?  Surly one spare tube should be enough.

Bikathon Weekend

Doris my bike and I started the weekend on the high speed train, all very appropriately named, after britians fasted, “Sir Sebastian Coe”.

Start in Sunshine

Sunday morning we set off in sunshine, dressed in my unstoppable jersey, and Doris clean and freshly serviced, we were ready for a long day. The Mall had been closed for the duathlon, and I sprinted down it without any traffic, at some speed. Then found my way around Victoria, and to the Royal Chelsea Hospital, by following other cyclists in their red and black jerseys to the start line.

Early and, hanging about, waiting for my departure time, I somewhat emotional, which is strange after so many years.   Still I relate to those who were going through tough times dealing with blood cancer. Kids at the start   seeing their daddy off, set me off, and I chose to hide out and get a coffee from a parked van, rather than let them see my uncontrolled tears.

Soon we were off,  traffic was a bit of a nightmare, my concentration was fixed on the road – I’m not used to London’s traffic on a bike,  and I had had near miss with a red bus before even getting over the bridge.  Thinking that all the drivers were cursing us, and from then on cycling very cautiously, started at an average speed of about 10mph!  and thinking this going to take me ten hours!

A London black cab driver dropped his window at the traffic lights and told me “You are doing a great job, for a great cause“, which lifted my spirits and made me smile, brought back memories of a jolly cabbie that drove me to Great Ormond Street one Christmas morning, but that’s a story for another day.

It was fun taking in the sights, recognising the bridges over the Thames, the stop start of the traffic lights, a bit of a bummer.  Traffic was hellish and thats a Sunday morning, goodness knows what its like on a weekday.   I filled up on Bananas at Clapham Common, which brought back memories of London to Brighton and I had the obligatory porta-potty stop.  Lesson learned here, pick up food and eat it in the que for the loo..  had to wait a good while.

Once we got past the twenty-six miles point the traffic and cyclists started to thin out a bit and at times I managed to pick up some real speed but nothing record breaking.

On the way back the drizzle started,  Sky was grey and it looked like a storm was brewing, I was going strong and stopping only to put on waterproof  jacket, which had been picked up in Aldi for under a fiver,  a god send and I was more than pleased to have it with me.

Ham House, chocolate and rest, stopped for a breather, it would have been better to get further, before the rain, but I was going for a personal distance best, so was in no hurry, my goal just to finish. The energy helped, it was a nice touch to have to drinks and food supplied by the organisers, an altitude of 200ft at Chessington, for a girl who lives on the flat, and trains on the coast that is a “big high”!

It’s a push bike, not a mountain bike, Yes ‘push’ being the word,  because and I had to get off and push towards the end and up Wimbledon’s Copse Hill, which is now known affectionately by cyclists, as CORPSE HILL.  Lets face it I’m crap at the hills, even with the training up and down Ramsgate’s Military Road, it seemed to be never ending.  Proud I had managed this far,  I got a climb in, took a few sips of fizzy drink, got to the lowest gear I have ever riden in, carried on a bit,  before giving in, and ended up walking the rest,  I sipped more liquids from the bottle as I pushed Doris and let my heart rate recover, from its pounding, before enjoying the downhill ride to Putney Bridge and back to the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

finish line

A personal best, in distance, although not my quickest ride, finished in heavy rain, and didn’t fancy getting further soaked at the finishers party.  I could have easily polished off the hog roast, and stayed all afternoon, lounging on the grass, if the sun had been out, today just walking across a muddy field in the rain with my bike, that was enough.  The poor band, everybody seemed to be making a dash for it.  Brownie points to the few mad fools dancing in the mud, they looked like 100mile racers boys, who had got to the beer tent early?

My second sporting medal

Proudly I cycled with my bling around my neck to Slone Square tube,  had forgotten my Oyster card and just couldn’t be bothered to go to the hole in the wall to get money for a ticket,  my legs tired and needed to keep moving, so slowly biked it, across London to Kings Cross.  (all those extra miles adding up, you know!)

The journey home on the high speed train, to Margate was also apply named after Britain’s Fastest “Laura Trott”,  after the Harlow girl, who achived  two golds in the Ladies Cycling.  Tired and legs feeling sore, I bet Laura would have cycled home…. I was just smiling,  because I too,  have two bits of sporting bling,  the feeling was just as triumphant, as any gold medalist.    Bring on the next ride.

Together we raised over £750,000 – I’m proud to have been part of this, I’m one in the red and black jersey!

Spin in the sun

A quick Sunday Morning ride, Stopping in the sun for a cuppa, at the half way point 15K at Recolver,  a morning quick spin was all I could do as I’m working the afternoon shift.  Beautiful day for it and I would have been happy to do a much further distance.  I’ll stop at that cafe again,  clean friendly and cheap, what more could a cyclist wish for.

My average speed went up to over 19Kph and my fastest was 25.72 which gave me a smile.  Not bad for a run on the flat.  I took a short- cut, which ended up a long-cut at the 24K mark, and gave me a bit of a incline to contend with.

Overall a wonderful couple of hours on the Thanet coast, in brilliant sunshine, mostly off road on on quiet back streets.  I have a cyclist sun tan, white hands where the mits go, and a white bits above the knee where the shorts stop. Is it time to leave the gloves at home.  Smutty guys, please forget the comments about leaving the shorts at home please  😉

I’ve done the Iconic London to Brighton Bike Ride

Made it to the start line!
A long slow train ride to Victoria, it was the first time in a while I had two hours with nothing but my thoughts. The enormity of what I was doing had sunk in and, I doubted, was I going to make it.   

I cycled the short ride along the Cromwell Road to Earls Court, navigating the busses and cabs around the Brompton Orbital, Thinking “I’m a serious Cyclist now”. 

Overnight night, Doris my Bike was chained up to the railings in the rain. The first time she has been left in the cold all night, and I worried a bit about her safety.   Just one of the eleven bikes at Earls Court Youth Hostel, others had had the same idea, to stay overnight just a few miles from the start line.   Some very fit boys, twenty years my junior were  bragging that they were doing ‘Brighton and Back, in one day”, cringed at the thought.  

Kept telling myself it’s not a race. I had all day to get to Brighton and I can enjoy riding  at my own pace.  No pressure others will be slower than me, or at least I hoped so.  There’s nothing wrong with walking up any of the hills or stopping as many times as I need.   It’s a day out and should be a pleasurable experience!  

5:30 AM.  Checked out the window on the weather, Doris was safe, and the boys in shorts and helmets were already unlocking their bikes and loading water bottles, they were on a six o’clock start time. Doris was looking a bit lonely, and I had time for a shower and to get packed.  Rain had stopped, it was a little overcast and perfect cycling conditions,  waterproof jacket in my bag, pulled on my shorts and jersey, filled the water bottle and filled my pockets with snacks.  I was early, I was excited as I set off over Battersea Bridge, to find Clapham common and the start line.  Already crowds were gathering, it was chilly, so kept out of the wind at the mobile coffee van, avoided the bacon rolls thinking it would slow me down, and anyway my pockets were stuffed with snacks for the ride. Peanut flapjacks, jelly babies in every pocket.

We were off, through the streets out of London, and before I knew it were were passing the first official stop, In good flow, so decided to carry on, just slowing to take a few sips from the water bottle.  Actually I carried on to Fanny’s Farm, about 20 miles in before I stopped, got off the saddle and waited in turn for the smelly portaloo.  The BBQ sausages smelt better, but I didn’t want to wait in the line again, so ate some nuts from my pocket and carried on.

There were a few hold ups on the narrow lanes and much moaning from the crowd, that was until the ambulance tried to get through.  Everyone, without exception moved to the side, bikes stacked and tangled in the hedge, and cyclists pushed up against each other to make way, no instruction was needed, we just all worked together.   It puts a bit of a dampener on things when you see accidents, and sadly there were a few. 

The event management was second to none with first aid points, water refills, and bike mechanics at hand, even food and feeding stations every five miles or so.  A few idiots were weaving about and overtaking on the left, but it was no worse than the London traffic you did need your spatial awareness due to the crowds.   I pushed on and started for the first time to really enjoy the ride through the sussex villages.  Ardingly, well I thought that was close to Brighton, but still had twenty odd miles to go, and was starting to feel it.  I stopped to eat jelly babies from my pockets, at Turners Hill, and then felt sick, think I had too many!

Looking up and seeing that hill, (in the picture) by now, and thinking, What on earth, made me sign up to do this? I have to get over that!  Then pacifying myself with what thoughts of, what goes up has to go down.   The Ditchling Beacon, the end was near,  from the top it’s only 7 miles into Brighton, the thought of the downhill cruise, kept me slogging on up hill.

As we approached Ditchling village, it started to rain. Fifty or so miles done, the light rain was refreshing at first, wet through from the outside in, and inside out,  wet hair under helmet, it wasn’t long before feeling tired and cold.  I started the steepest bit in the lowest gear and before long had to join, the second or third lane of slow walkers, getting road spray from the few that were still on the bikes, I was grimy, and so was Doris.  Even walking was tough going,  but was still able to hold a conversation, which was more than some could do as they panted up the hill, my training had paid off.  With a push Doris and I made it to the top, and even managed to overtake some of the slower walkers.  The hot coffee provided by the scouts was a welcome stop, and by that time, I couldn’t care that it was instant. 🙂

It seemed like every set of traffic lights on the Brighton approach road, from the University onwards, was against me.  At one I stripped out out the waterproofs,  passed the last of the jelly babies to the kids waving me on, much to amusement of the passengers in the stationary car alongside who wanted some too.

There is something magical about your first long bike ride, and passing the Brighton Pavilion was a very special point for me,  I realised then I had done it, before cruising comfortably into the waiting crowds, to the finishing line to collect my first bit of sporting bling.

Thank You to all my supporters, 
and those of you out on the streets cheering us on.

It’s Iconic 
The London to Brighton Bike Ride

for those who haven’t its not too late to