So 2018 is the year of milestones! It contains the majority of my 50th year, Karen’s 50th Birthday, Isabel’s 21st birthday and it’s 10 years since we bought the business from my parents. It’s also 10 years since my first cycling challenge.
10 years ago we were setting out on our new business venture and from day one we decided that we would like to give something back and that’s how the idea of a challenge every 2 to 3 years to raise money for charity started. I think today they called it ‘paying it forward’ but we just call it fundraising.
I don’t think there would be anyone more surprised than me if you were to tell me that in the 10 years we would have cycled the length of Hadrian‘s wall, cycled around Wales in 8 days, cycled from Lands end to John O’Groats and from Wrexham to Monte Carlo and were about to embark on the biggest challenge to date cycling from Wrexham to Gibraltar. A journey of 1400 miles in just 13 days.
So the blog finds me at the start of March with 11 weeks to go until we leave on our challenge. Training started in January with the completion of RED January, Angela had encouraged me to take part in a
running challenge which involved running every day in support of mental health awareness. This was a mammoth undertaking on its own but a great way of shocking the system into training.
February has been the start of my cycling training and today I can be mostly found sat on a bike in the gym whilst the worst of the winter weather goes on outside.
Having struggled with the running in January the enormity of the task ahead became clear, the realisation that 110 miles a day for 13 days may be beyond me.
Thankfully a client had told me about a cycling coach who may be able to help, he specialises in people who have little time to train and creates training plans enabling cyclists to get the maximum ‘bang for buck’ in training terms.
So in early February I found myself sitting in a studio in Shewsbury having my V02 Max and lactate threshold tested whilst sitting on a watt bike. Liam the coach expertly guided me through the training assessment and encouraged me through the excruciating V02 max test. Taking blood from my ear every 3 minutes to work out my lactate threshold. I’m still not absolutely certain why we did this but I’m told it was essential!
Apart from a few good Club cyclists (and now me) Liam is used to dealing with professional athletes helping them hone their skills and tweak their fitness levels to maximise their potential. Goodness only knows what went through his mind when he saw me arrive at his door!
For those of you who don’t know the VO2 max test is an all-out sprint at the end of the session where your maximum output is calculated and where you leave nothing in the tank. Apparently the test went well and it took me a good 10 minutes before I could breathe again.
Long story but I’ve recently been diagnosed with high intensity excercise asthma, the same kind that Chris Froome suffers from. This is in fact the only thing I have in common with him, well apart from the fact that we both own bikes but then I paid for mine!
Having regained my composure I stepped off the bike and saw Liam stood in front of me with a set of calipers in his hand. He looked at me, I looked at him and we both looked at the calipers! “I think we’re going to need larger callipers” I said. I’m not certain whether Liam is just polite or whether he suddenly realised that he didn’t have any larger calipers but he smiled and I stood in silence in my shorts in his patio window whilst he measured the various bits of flab on my body diligently writing the result in his notebook.
So Liam’s training program has arrived it’s tough and means that with the weather being so bad I’m in the gym every day, either doing a fasted ride, a recovery ride or series of exercises designed to torture the soul. The good thing is although it’s tough it’s never boring and keeps you thinking and moving. The schedule arrives on an app and my workout is recorded and sent to him for him to analyse. (I turn it off when we get to a cafe stop).
I also have a special diet which is the hardest part. Counting every calorie, every gramme of carbohydrate and gramme of protein that you put into your body means for the first time in my life I’m actually reading labels! I have realised quite how much crap they put in food.
I even have a carbohydrate ‘swing o’ meter’ which is about as exciting as it gets.
Mike is accompanying me on many of the training sessions although he objects strongly to getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning.
There’s a saying in the cycling fraternity that goes something like winter miles lead to summer smiles, at the moment I’m not sure whether this is true but I really hope so.
The reluctant cyclist
We are raising funds for Leonard Cheshire disability, Marie Currie, Hope house children’s Hospice and Crohn’s and colitis. All donations will be gratefully received.
Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride link