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.Continue reading “A Grand Tour adventure – Allez les Filles”
I was on the road to the big one, L’Etape du Tour and I was feeling good. I felt like I’d done as much training as I could and I’d had some rest. I’d also made a real effort to drop a few lbs, my mind was really positive.Continue reading “I’ve always liked Champagne”
I made a big cycling purchase a few months ago, after my bike it was the most money I’ve spent on a single item related to cycling. I thought I was in the market for a new turbo trainer, something that would give me feedback, show me how I was progressing and get me motivated to stay on there longer, that was my goal. I already owned a turbo, it was a very basic one and to be honest it was just gathering dust, I love spinning classes but I found turbo training really boring.
I’m really time poor, work is busier than ever and Savannah has become a little person with a voice and with her own view on how we should spend our weekends together. I’ve entered some really big events this year so I’ve had to up my training, last year I was riding before work at 06:00 (after the clocks changed) but they were fairly gentle rides 10-20 miles with one bigger ride at the weekend. I knew that wouldn’t be enough this year but I couldn’t commit the time to real road miles in the week with work and a 2year old.
I went all out and purchased a Wahoo Kickr. I did all the homework, I read review after review and compared it to all the others on the market but I decided nothing else really compared to the Kickr. It was a huge outlay of money but it really has been money well spent. I’ve already clocked up some great mileage on there and simulated some big climbs but what attracted me to the Kickr was it’s open source, it allows software developers to create programs and training aids for it and I’ve used quite a few of them already.
It was easy to set up and it connects to my iphone, ipad and laptop. The Kickr does come with a 10 speed cassette so my Dad and his mechanical skills were required to change the cassette to a 9 speed but he did this with no problem. If you haven’t got the skills your local bike shop could always help with this too, there’s really clear instructions on You Tube.
I started off using the Sufferfest videos, I’d used them before on my old manual trainer. I have to be honest and say I got about 10 minutes in to it and I couldn’t turn the pedals, I gave up. The Kickr controls the resistance, it sets the gradient / resistance you should be riding and I really struggled. When I used these videos in the past I clearly didn’t have the resistance up high enough.
I logged on to Trainer Road, an app that connects you to a variety of training programs and through this I found the 3LC videos. I’m not usually drawn to ladies specific cycling products but on this day I downloaded their Ladies Road Race, I had no idea what to expect. The 3LC workout is a studio based fitness session, in this particular session there’s a group of ladies on turbo trainers and 2 coaches taking them through the stages of the ride offering guidance and motivation. It’s designed to make you, the person at home feel like part of the class and it works. I was immediately immersed in to the session and I enjoyed having the coaches there, giving me the instructions. You ride and train with cadence so ideally you need to have the ability to measure this as you’re riding. I really enjoy group exercise so this 3LC session was a great way to ride for an hour at home and never feel bored. The session had everything, we warmed up and we did some intervals, threshold, hills, sprints and cool down. I’ve never had any coaching or professional instruction on how to ride a bike, I just jumped on and worked it out so having this professional support and guidance through the session was quite a revelation. I’ve worked with PT’s in the gym and seen huge benefits from this, having professional cycling coaches guiding you through the stages on the ride was a similar experience, I gained so much from that hour on the bike.
I repeated this video over a period of 3 weeks, it was a really busy work time and I didn’t get to ride on the road at all. The next time I did get out on the road I was a little bit taken back by my own progress. I came to the first hill and kept my cadence up, like the coaches in the video trained me to and I got a PB on the hill (in January on my heavy, winter bike). It wasn’t just the fact that I got a PB but it was the way I rode that hill, I felt strong, I went in to it with different confidence and more power because I knew I’d been riding hills with a high cadence and at high speed in the video session so I knew I could do this on the open road, I just had to commit to it in the same way I’d been riding in the 3LC session. My ride that day, out on the open road felt like one of the best so far this year. That was completely unexpected with no road miles over a 3 week period.
I live a really busy life, I’m a single Mum and I commute to London every day for a job that isn’t 9-5. I’m often traveling abroad and I’m usually in the office late at night. I obviously understand the benefits of a structured training plan but I’ve always dismissed them in the past. My life isn’t structured and I didn’t think a plan would suit me but after seeing such quick development, such rapid improvement I’m keen to try and make this work. The 3LC endurance plan is 10 weeks, there’s 11 weeks until L’Etape Du Tour. I have some big events between now and then so I can’t stick to it completely but I could try and structure my weekday training within the 10-week plan. Could this be the difference, could this get me over the Alps this summer.
There’s something I’ve wanted to do on my bike for a few years now. The time hasn’t been right in previous years, I was pregnant, on maternity leave or just not in the right place. I’ve been thinking about this challenge a lot recently and after my Grandad passed away this June it felt like this would be my year to enter L’Étape du Tour. My Grandad, Jules Tur was born in Casablanca, Morocco and raced with great success on his bike in the 1940’s. As a Frenchman, Le Tour de France was something he spoke of with such enthusiasm and high regard.
So I’ve got my registration confirmed and I’ve booked my accommodation in La Toussuire. My Mum, Dad, Savannah and I will set off on a road trip next July 2015. I will follow in the iconic wheel tracks of Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome with a summit finish in memory of my Grandad.
It’s going to be a long, hard winter of tough training but that’s the bit I love the most. My cycling club has started a weekly night ride, we ride with lights and high viz. I hope to get out on that as much as possible and we still ride every Sunday whatever the weather. If I can keep up a few miles a week then all my hard work this year will set me up well for this challenge but I’ve never climbed a real mountain. I climbed to 902m recently on a club holiday in Portugal, Mt Foia but this is going to the next level and beyond. 142km and 3 mountains.
A copy of my Grandad’s cycling club membership card from 1940 – 1941
My Grandad lined up with his cycling team mates in Casablanca
Cycling through the streets of Casablanca in 1941. I might be the only girl happy to inherit her Grandad’s legs.
AVC nightriders winter training
Sunday club ride to the Hub in Redbourne, Herts with AVC
Getting ready to climb Mt Foia in the Algarve
The 14% steep cobbles back to our villa in the Algarve
Cooking up porridge for the boys (and me) each morning in the Algarve
It was very cold on the way down from Mt Foia
Climbing all day long in the Algarve