This is why cycling is my calling

The girl said drive your car to a town called Ardrossan and leave your car there, go over on the ferry as a foot passenger with your bike. When you dock on the island turn left and just keep riding, you can’t get lost. You’ll be climbing hills all day, you’ll love it. I was half way around before I had time to worry I was on my own.

This is why cycling is my calling. Why is cycling your calling? Share your story #RaphaCalling

Watch the beautiful video clip of #rapha_n_america Women’s Ambassador @pscaroni and her San Francisco morning ritual

Waiting to board the ferry to the Isle of Arran

Waiting to board the ferry to the Isle of Arran

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My Isle of Arran adventure just kept getting better and better

My Isle of Arran adventure just kept getting better and better

A very cheeky hill was lurking around the corner of this flat road

A very cheeky hill was lurking around the corner of this flat road

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My trusty hire bike from Billy Bilsland cycles in Glasgow http://www.billybilslandcycles.co.uk got me around Arran safe and sound

My trusty hire bike from Billy Bilsland cycles in Glasgow http://www.billybilslandcycles.co.uk got me around Arran safe and sound

I made it back, just in time for the 15:15 return ferry

I made it back, just in time for the 15:15 return ferry

Refuelling my ride

After last weeks long ride I couldn’t sleep, I felt like I’d drunk 5 cups of coffee and I stared at the ceiling all night. So I’ve spent the past week asking questions, reading and researching alternative ride food. Thank you everyone for getting in touch with suggestions and ideas. I’ve been eating gels and bars for years because I thought this was the only option for easy fuel on the move but I’ve now discovered there’s loads of alternatives.

On Saturday evening Savannah and I had great fun making Team Sky’s rice cakes. I found the recipe here on the Rapha website, I found the recipe easy to follow and really easy to make. I don’t have a rice cooker, I just used a saucepan with a lid and checked it throughout the cooking process and gave it an occasional stir. I opted for Team Sky’s favourite chocolate flavour mixed with cinnamon. I used a quarter of the recipe and this made 4, very thick cakes. Savannah helped me stir the mixture together and she was rewarded with the spoon to lick. She was very impressed, she thought her cakes were delicious.

I also bought some Soreen Malt Loaf and Fig Rolls. A few people had suggested them and because I’ve eaten both before I knew my stomach agreed with them. The Soreen Malt Loaf comes in really handy lunch box, individually wrapped portions so I thought these would be easy to eat on the move.  Packing up my jersey in the morning was a bit challenging but after some forcing and squashing, it was all in. I did feel a bit overloaded at first and I was unsure how much I’d need for the ride. I took 4 rice cakes, 2 malt loaf slices and 8 fig rolls. I waited until 40 minutes in to the ride before I consumed any food, I’d eaten a big bowl of porridge before I’d left home.

I’d just ascended Hexton Hill and I was riding through an area called the valley. I managed to get the small foil parcel out of my jersey and unwrapped all whilst riding, it wasn’t as easy as getting a gel out but with a bit of practise it will get better. The rice cake tasted so good, it really made me smile. There’s a very faint taste of coconut from the coconut oil, it’s quite firm, it held together well so it’s really easy to eat. You can bite in to it but it breaks up easily in your mouth, there’s very little chewing required and the taste is subtle, it’s not sweet like all those bars. I’m completely sold. I motored along and soon came to a well known incline The Poggio, I powered up it and felt really strong but level, this felt good.

As the day went on my jersey emptied and my energy levels kept up at a really good level. I was riding with an old friend Nick, although he’s only just recently returned to his road bike after years of mountain biking he’s not really lost his pace, he’s been riding for years and I was managing to stay on his wheel and do my bit at the front.  When I got home I felt completely different, it was a lovely feeling, I just felt a bit tired. I could’ve curled up on the sofa there and then and had a little snooze. This has changed the way I ride.

                    

What advice would you seek from a pro rider?

I’m riding the Chiltern 100 sportive at the end May, Human Race the organiser has invited me to join Team Sky pro rider Luke Rowe for a training session. After the ride I’ll have the opportunity to ask him a few questions. If you have a question you’d like me to ask for you please post them here and I’ll include as many as I can. Write them below in the comments so I can collect them tonight. I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Nicole

What do you eat when you ride?

I did my first century of the year today. A fairly epic ride, over to the Chilterns and we took on Whiteleaf a top 100 climb. Being the first really big ride of the year it was also my first day consuming a load of gels and bars.  I find the bars really hard to chew, gels are a bit better but on a long ride they’re a bit limiting as I can’t stomach too many. I’d love to know what you’re all eating on the bike, is there anything easy to eat that also tastes good and gives you the required energy? With my L’Etape Du Tour coming up soon I’d love to find better ride food. You can comment below and let me know.