How do you get your head around the idea of being able to cycle 1800 miles in 10 days?
It’s quite simple – you dont!
You can’t really. You can get your head around the idea of a long ride, and even several long rides. But one single ride from the bottom to the top of the country and back again? That’s a lot to process. Especially when you don’t have a great track record time wise.
Mark Beaumont has a lot to answer for (in fact it’s entirely his fault) with regards to my strategy. If you’ve not watched his live talk with Speakers from the Edge about his Around the World in 80 days, I highly recommend it. With theatres currently closed, it’s available to watch online for a very small fee.
While I still planning for the Race Around the Netherlands, I observed his strategy that was simply, ride for 4 hours, rest, then repeat for 4 times each day. The focus is on time and not distance. Because if the focus is on distance, there’s too much temptation to stop early if the distance is reached. 4 hours means you ride for 4 hours regardless of distance. I thought, ‘Hey I could do that!’ I can get my head around that.
So, my training was adjusted for me to try out this notion. I discovered that a 4 hour leg was just a little too much for me on British roads as energy , boredom & hunger all played a part. So I experimented, and found that 3.5 hours with 1/2 hour rest worked really well for me. It sat well with mealtimes, energy levels and boredom. So this would be my Race around the Netherlands strategy.
So when my event changed to LEJOGLE instead, it made sense that we continued my training along this 4 x 4 hr blocks (where I ride for 3.5 hrs).
Since the thought of maybe striving for LEJOGLE back in March, my training was changed to include a LOT more hill work and build up my strength and power. This was just as well, since for the first couple of months of lockdown, we weren’t really supposed to travel far, so I was doing regular hill reps on various roads around Portsdown Hill (that overlooks Portsmouth). At other times I was doing turbo sessions, long ones in some cases, which isn’t something I’ve really done much of before. I did actually come to enjoy them – once I found some excellent cycling videos to watch for GCN (Global Cycling Network) on YouTube.
Now that lockdown is relaxed, and I have committed to doing LEJOGLE, the distances have been getting longer.
But, there’s been a nagging doubt at the back of my mind, that I won’t be able to make the 45-50 miles a leg that I would need to complete this challenge in the time.
My original estimate was 11.5 days. Then after talking to Guinness and realising that they were going to put a time limit of the attempt, I figured that 10 days would work. And so all my training so far has been based on the requirement for 10 days.
Big Miles Weekend
I have agreed milestones with my coach. When I say milestones, I mean where I need my training to be at particular times in the run up to the event.
This weekend just past, I decided to have 3 days of riding. The plan was to do 2 days of 3 legs, and one of 2 legs. The idea was to ride a variety of different areas, some flat, some hilly. To ride main roads and smaller ones, and even some cycle paths. On each leg I would ride for 3.5 hours, stop and eat/rest, then get back on and repeat. I could see how fatigued I got as the day(s) went on, see which kind of roads were best for my overall pace, and iron out my faffing issues – since I’m a well known faffer. It was very much designed to see if I had improved in a variety of areas, and what niggles I still had to iron out.
So what did I learn?
There were a few things really.
- I can ride between 45 & 50 miles consistently in the timescale
- Cycle paths are mostly not worth the effort if you need to go fast, even if they flatten out hills
- I definitely faff a lot less now
- Main roads and straight roads can be my friend (although lorries less so)
- Lifting of lock down restrictions does NOT mean that every thing you need is open
- ‘Quick’ shop stops are often anything but quick, with social distancing measures and often a one in – one out policy. Choose your pit stops wisely.
- Gusty windy days, can both help and hinder. When it’s on your back, it can be a helpful nudge up hill, but cross and head winds seriously sap your energy. Luckily I have aero bars, so I tend to tuck in, put my head down and slog through it. But by the end of the day, it still hurts.
Update from Guinness
Late on Monday afternoon, Guinness provided me with an update on their minimum time limit for the record attempt. They had taken into account all my comments (& protests), and have given me a new timescale of 8 days & 12 hours!!!
I posted my thoughts about this on a facebook video, if you are not a member of this group you can request to join it and follow me at this link
I’ve thought a lot about whether to still go for the Guinness timescale, or stick to my 10 days for the ‘fastest known time’. But I know I would kick myself if I didn’t at least try for the GWR.
So over the last couple of days, I have redrawn the route, taken out most of the minor roads, replacing them with lots of straight main roads. I do have the support of my wonderful Hubster, and Dora the van for the first 6 days, leaving me just 2.5 days to fend for myself. Critically he’ll be able to support me through Scotland, which in Pandemic times is a total godsend.
My strategy therefore will be changing slightly, as some of the 3.5 hour stints will become 4 after all, as I’m unlikely to go much quicker than I am now, so I’ll just have to ride a little longer each day – an hour a day should do it..
For the rest of July my life will be simple. I’ll be either working, eating, sleeping or training. The Hubster will have a relatively quiet life, although will become a LEJOGLE widow for a while. But that’s life for someone married to a WR holder wannabe!
Thank for you reading – don’t forget that I am raising money for Solent Mind by riding this event. Please go to my fundraising page if you would like to donate