You can teach an old dog new tricks

As I cooled down after this morning’s training ride I couldn’t help but smile, I’ve been on a really big journey for the past 12 weeks and in the last 30 minutes as I completed my final training session those 12 weeks flashed through my head. I’ve been training for my biggest cycling adventure to come but this time, I’ve really been training, I’ve not just been out riding my bike as I’ve done in the past. For the first time, I’ve followed a customised training plan and I’ve had the benefit of riding with an Infocrank power meter that Verve Cycling kindly supplied for me.

My first experience of road cycling in 2009 was possibly like most other peoples, I just jumped on my new bike and I rode a few miles with no understanding of how to really ride other than turning the pedals and pulling the brakes. I bought my bike in the Lake District and I enjoyed a lovely ride around one of my favourite places there, around Lake Coniston. When I returned to London where I lived at the time I took my bike to Regents Park, I had no idea this was a place for London cyclists. I lived in North London and it seemed like an obvious place to enjoy quieter roads. When I arrived in the park I was surprised to see so many cyclists doing laps of the park and I soon found myself looping around the park too, chasing the group until the sun went down.

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Braver Than The Elements

On Saturday 12th December, Rapha invites women around the world to clip in for a wintry ride, whatever the weather. Join one of over 40 rides leaving from Rapha Cycle Clubs or organised by ambassadors throughout North America, the UK, Europe, Japan and Korea.

I will be leading a ride from my hometown of Ampthill, the route is 42 miles and goes North through the Bedfordshire villages alongside the River Ouse. The route is mostly rolling with a couple of my beloved hills, I couldn’t design a ride without them. I enjoy riding through winter, the sunshine of summer is guaranteed happiness but the rain can bring wild adventure and unforgettable rides that give you a real sense of satisfaction.

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A Grand Tour adventure – Allez les Filles

I was watching Bradley Wiggins wear the yellow jersey when I decided I would ride L’Etape du Tour. I was on my maternity leave and watching Le Tour had become my daily life. I started reading blogs from cyclists and one, in particular, caught my attention, they talked about the struggle, the adventure, the final climb, passing other riders who were either slumped over their bars or lying in the trees. They described them as praying to anyone who might listen, someone who would help them get up that last mountain. It all sounded a bit far fetched, exaggerated compared to my own cycling experiences but I wanted a piece of this crazy adventure. I was so heavily pregnant I could barely get myself off the sofa but I decided I would one day be fit again and enter and ride this event.

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The Rapha Prestige – an adventure through the Peak District

As my alarm went off at 06:00am we pulled back the curtains to discover the forecast for heavy rain was showing itself on this summer Saturday in June. A wise man once told me your skin dries but the fabric of tights might leave you feeling cold so despite the seasonally low temperature I took this advice onboard and pulled on my shorts.

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Meeting the broom wagon for the first time – Etape Du Dales

A DNF (Did Not Finish) is a bitter pill to swallow; it’s one I’ve never tasted before. In the past I’ve always found a way to recover and fight back no matter how bad things have become. Despite putting on a very brave face the experience knocked my confidence and I was shattered. I’ve sat on this story for a few weeks because the ending has been unclear to me. Everyone told me I’d learn from it and I’d come back stronger but I wanted to see for myself if this was true or if people just say that to make you feel better. It’s taken a good few weeks to unravel and a few more big rides but on Sunday I took part in the Tour of Cambridgeshire and my Etape Du Dales DNF became very clear to me.

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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.


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