Before talking about my rides this week, a quick THANK YOU to Liv, who was looking at my fundraising and noticed I was just £33 from £7,000 – so she made an extra donation to break that barrier, I cannot believe how generous some people are.
With just under 10 weeks to go until we leave Copenhagen to begin the Tour21 ride to raise £1,000,000 for Cure Leukaemia it was tempting to get back from Mallorca and get straight back in the saddle, but I had advice from both Andy and Mike to take it easy for a few days, not to waste the efforts of last week by having a tired body but to take the benefits by allowing some time for rest and recovery. Mike could not support this week as he is taking on his own challenge supporting ‘Blind Dave’ Heeley. Having lost his sight at a young age, Dave now raises money for charity by taking on remarkable challenges that other would think impossible. Riding a tandem from John O’Groats to Lands End, and even running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, a truly inspirational man. Dave and Mike’s latest challenge was a “Escape for Colditz” ride. An 800 mile journey by bike from the infamous Colditz Castle to West Bromwich in just 1 week to raise funds for the ALBION FOUNDATION.
Monday and Tuesday were swimming days, something to keep the body moving but a different exercise which gave my legs the recovery they needed. Wednesday I met up with Geoff Thomas for a relatively short 50 mile. A few years ago a 50 mile ride would have been a long effort, but it is now becoming the norm, (if anything less than the norm), an ideal as a first ride back to reactivate the legs. With Both Geoff and I riding together in our Santini training kit, hopefully we would have been noticed and hopefully a few who saw us looked into why these 2 riders were in this unique vibrant kit, and hopefully donated to Cure Leukaemia.
Thursday was another swim in the morning and an effort session on the V-Sprint Thursday ride, my favourite ride of the week. The light nights haven’t stretched out enough yet for our summer route so it was a straight ride to Worcester and back rather than the extended summer route. Thursday is always a fast paced group ride with the objective to get the whole group around the route at a high pace, so whilst fast we make sure to get everyone up the hills together. Normally everyone stays together until the last couple of miles, a slight uphill section where riders test their strength and tactics to get back in front of everyone else. One of the faster riders in the group, Ricky, went a little earlier than he should of with about 3 miles to go (wanting to test himself). This split the group and I found myself chasing him down with the youngster of the group, Dan. For a while it looked as if Ricky would get back first, but with a young teenager to drive me on Dan and I caught Ricky. The Mallorca training was showing benefits already.
Friday I rode with Geoff again and this time we were joined by Tim Marshall from last years Tour21 ride. At this time last year I was riding with Tim, helping him prepare for his Tour ride, so it was a great motivation for me to have him along for todays ride. Tim has done so much with his cycling in the last 12 months. Like me the realisation of the task ahead meant he knew he had to work hard to achieve his goal, he took on a coach to support him through his training and developed in to one of the more accomplished riders on the Tour ride in 2021. But not only that, he is continuing with his cycling and his fund raising for Cure Leukaemia and will be riding from London to Paris with them.
The ride wasn’t without incident though…. At probably the furthest point from home, Geoff’s chain snapped! Whilst possible to repair on the side of the road – I’ve seen Andy do it before – none of us had the tools or experience to carry out the repair, so we had to rely on the most important piece of equipment we had – a mobile phone. Within a few minutes we had a couple of offers for a lift home but it was Geoff’s wife Julie who took on the rescue mission. With Geoff sorted for a lift, we left him at the road side and Myself and Tim continued on to complete the ride.
Saturday was a strength test, that marker of where I am with my training, time in the saddle is only part of the picture, the other part is strength. By combining strength and endurance I am hoping to be ready for those long days with mountain climbs. I have a 20 mile loop which starts in the lanes just around the corner from home. With only a few junctions and minimal traffic, there is not much to affect the time to ride the route apart from my own effort, it provides a good benchmark to know where I am. Although there was a stiff breeze, meaning a head wind on a couple of the long flat sections, the ride went very well. At the start of March I rode the route in 1:01:38, on Saturday my time was 58:44, just under 3 minutes faster, a massive result which I am very happy with, not the quickest I’ve done, but analysing my efforts on Strava the sections where I lost time were those with the head winds. Beating my personal best before I leave for the Tour in June is my goal for my strength work.
Sunday, was another ride where Mallorca training took affect. V-Sprint have 2 rides, a steady ‘Development’ Ride and a faster ‘Club’ ride. Andy normally rides/leads the development ride but on occasions will ride in the Club ride. Fresh from Mallorca he rode with us and held his own with ease. Although first to admit hills are not his strength, he kept in touch with the group all the way until the final climb over Hanbury Hill.
By Monday my training was beginning to normalise, a 70 mile ride with lunch in Kemerton. As it was Bank Holiday there were 8 of us which meant the time passed quickly. At the start we were joined by Ian, Dave and Nikki. I’ve been helping Nikki build her confidence and this was her first group ride. Although she didn’t stay with us all the way, just the first 20 miles, she was amazing. Riding at speeds of up to 20 mph in the group she is getting more and more confident, Its not that easy riding in a group at speed on roads you don’t know but she did amazingly well and I’m sure it won’t be long before she is a regular group rider and next time will be out for the whole ride.