As I mentioned in the previous post, I had watched the Prudential Ride London and really fancied giving it a crack next year.
It’s a lovely, but challenging route that takes in some of the best cycling roads in South London and Surrey. As well as the iconic Box Hill climb (the second most popular Strava segment in the UK after a stretch in Richmond Park), the route also takes in Ranmore Common and Leith Hill. The fact that it is a closed roads sportive and that the pros ride this course as well makes it a little bit more special, indeed this is now a one day Classic recognised on the UCI tour calendar
I will be riding for the Rainbow Trust again and I’m encouraging Adam to sign up too as it would be a great experience for both of us and would definitely justify a new bike! Rainbow have been efficient and sprightly as per usual! Despite only signing up yesterday I was greeted with the below on my return from work today
29th July 2018 is the date for this so plenty of time to get back in the gym and back on the bike!
……but what next for the Fat Blokes On Bikes?
It’s actually quite strange to think that it is already a week since we returned from our big cycling adventure. With time to reflect it has dawned on me what we actually managed to achieve, the distance we travelled on two wheels and the money we raised for the Rainbow Trust and it is truly amazing that we did it. This week has (with the exception of two days at the Oval) been slow and tedious by comparison. It was great to get back and see my family but I’ve felt flat all week, all the training and pedalling is done and that has removed something that I’ve focussed on for near on a year. Adam tells me this is known as post project depression, a recognised effect of the completion of a sizeable task and I can see why. I’ve spent most of the week thinking about what I can do next on a bike, I need something to plan!
In truth I have enough on my plate to keep me occupied in the near future, my wife is due to give birth to our second child at any point so I doubt I’ll get to see my bike anytime soon anyway!
I watched the Surrey Classic Ride London today and that stirred my interest again, I would love to have a crack at that next year so that may be the target although London to Amsterdam also intrigues me as it is further than Paris but flatter!
Adam and I do have one last bike ride to complete this year for the Stroke Association.
The Stroke Association Thames Bridges Bike Ride starts in Chiswick and runs for 55 miles in a loop of London, taking in 18 of the bridges over the Thames and many iconic landmarks on the way. Trafalgar Square, Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace are all on the route as well as cycling over Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Seeing as it is October hopefully the weather will hold up for us and we can finish near Adam’s house for some well earned refreshment
Making this journey had an extra perk seeing as the Tour de France finished in Paris yesterday. Having abandoned our practice of not eating too much before getting on a bike, Adam and I smashed through a multiple course breakfast in our hotel safe in the knowledge that there was no cycling to come at all……well, not for us.
We headed to the Gare du Nord to leave our bags in the left luggage before going for a wander through the city. We had planned to go to the catacombs but the queue was heavy so we wandered back towards the centre of the city, through Le Jardin Du Luxembourg and over the Pont Neuf.
We stopped for lunch at an amazing Moroccan restaurant in the Marche des Enfants Rouges, partly to eat bust mostly to rest our aching legs! It had become apparent that walking downhill was difficult for our thighs to cope with. We filled up on cous cous and merguez before heading off to buy some presents and find a spot on the Champs Elysees for the main event. Many roads were closed and an eerie silence fell over some avenues in Paris, there aren’t many times you’ll get to take a picture like this
When we got onto the Champs Elysees we were incredibly fortunate to find a spot which doubled as a seat AND a viewing platform to stand on, our view of the race was better than expected!
There was a great atmosphere as the crowds gathered to watch the climax of the Tour, all different teams and nations were represented as the sponsors partied their way, carnival style, up the Champs Elysees before Sylvain Chavenel lead the way for the pro peloton. For us Brits we got to see our winner, Chris Froome, celebrate his fourth Tour win and you wouldn’t bet against him next year either!
We left shortly after the second circuit as we had to be back at the Gare du Nord for our Eurostar home but it was amazing to witness the Tour, in Paris, on the Champs Elysees. So that was that, two tours done and time for home….
……already started thinking about what to do next!
We set off fairly early yesterday morning for the final leg of our mini tour, leaving our hotel in Beauvais at around 7:15am. As soon as we stepped foot out of the door it started to rain so rain coverings were donned and we pushed off for Paris
The light drizzle that was falling as we wound our way back into the French countryside was only a preview of what was to come. The passing drizzle lulled us into stopping to remove the rain coverings but, as we reached the first big climb of the day at 8 miles, the rain returned in torrents. Il pleut….again! It hung around for a few miles, making the roads quite greasy and handling the bike became difficult at times, especially on roundabouts where surface water was laying. As we reached the first water stop the rain had started to subside which was a welcome relief, no more rain rage!
The road to lunch was actually rather lovely, I rode the majority of the way with a couple we had met during the journey, David and Laura. Laura was there as a representative of the Teenage Cancer Trust who had 88 riders taking part and she told me that their wonderful charity would benefit by over £165,000 from this event. An absolutely phenomenal amount. As we hit the suburbs the traffic grew and the pace slowed, we stopped in a park for our lunch stop and the sun came out!
We had a fair bit of time for lunch so it was good to sit down and relax a bit before moving to a holding point in the centre of Paris. From there we put on our victorious blue tshirts and proceeded to the Eiffel Tower in one convoy of over 200 riders.
We’d completed our mission! Job done! Game Over! There was only one obligatory photo left to obtain…..
I’ve loved every minute of this trip, part of me doesn’t want it to end but I can’t wait to get back to see my family. I’m not sure Adam wants to see his bike ever again!
We made some great friends along the way, lovely people doing a phenomenal thing
Thanks to all these legends for being a part of it, Fat Blokes out.
I’m writing this from a hotel room in Beauvais at the end of our third day.
‘Where’s day 2?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’ll tell you.
Day two was horrific, il pleut…..a lot!
I was soaked through at lunchtime and really not loving life! I basically stuck my head down for 20 miles and ignored the stunning scenery just to get to the sanctuary of the lunch stop. The afternoon was better, the sun made an appearance, but the brutal crosswinds made enjoying the day nigh on impossible. That said we did have our moments
We reached Abbeville and pitched up at the lovely Mercure hotel. Following the brandy I had promised myself for enduring the rain, I turned in.
Today was a different kettle of fish all together, brilliant sunshine and warm weather greeted our departure so we were keen to get going. After an unexpected beast of a hill not 10 miles in we were knackered! This was not a good sign and it was folllwed by what was loosely described as ‘rolling hills’! However, after linch, the parcours relented and aside from a couple of lively ramps, the day proceeded rather nicely!
Tomorrow we ride the 50 or so miles to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done but the most fulfilling and rewarding. We’ve met some incredible people on our trip, from cancer nurses to survivors to people that just want to do some good in a frankly rotten world.
So we’re finally in a hotel room somewhere in Calais. After starting out from Crystal Palace at about 7:30am this morning, we wound our way out of London and down through the Kent countryside towards the sea. About 9 hours and 90 miles later, we reached Dover and proceeded in convoy to the ferry. A short spin on weary legs and we finally reached a shower and a much needed bed!
Tomorrow is 71 miles to Abbeville, the alarm is set ready to face the bike for the second day in a row
As planned, this morning I managed to get out on the bike to do a bit of a recce on part of the route we’ll be taking on Wednesday. I’d planned a 40 mile loop that would include about 18 miles of the London to Paris route.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find my country roads in around London but the road out of Addington is exactly that. It’s a narrow, winding road that climbs up to Farthing Street and around the back of Biggin Hill. The narrow nature of the road can make it difficult for cyclists as there is little passing distance, even cars going in opposite directions cannot pass each other. I sat in behind 3 fellas who were on their way out to Eastbourne then turning back for Tunbridge Wells, the easy pace suited me fine!
The road opens out a bit after that and it was certainly one for the puncheurs as the continual low gradient climb was perforated by rolling terrain. I’m pretty used to this area as it isn’t far from my usual routes so thankfully I’ve had a lot of practice! The timelapse below shows the L2P part of my route today
As with every ride, I have to get home and that means a pretty big hill to get up. The easiest is probably the Clarks Lane way from Westerham into Warlingham but, even then, there’s the 7% 0.7 mile slog up Beggars Lane to deal with. Most cyclists don’t worry about this kind of thing but for a fat 40 year old it is a bit of a ballache at the end of a ride! If you can be bothered to watch, below is the a link to the easiest route for me to get back to Warlingham from Surrey or Kent
It’s now just 5 days until we leave for Paris and, despite the slight creeping fear and trepidation of what’s in store, I really can’t wait to get going. My packing, on the other hand, does not reflect that eagerness!
Watching Le Tour has certainly helped to stoke the anticipation. Though we won’t be emulating the feats of Uran in Chambéry or Bardet in Peyragudes, watching these guys at one with their bikes conquering some of the toughest roads in France stirs the imagination and makes you pine for the open road. Seeing their faces contort and twist as they do battle with gradients I’d struggle to walk up always reminds me of this fabulous quote
“It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport” – Scott Martin
Adam and I obviously have a special reason for doing what we’re doing, an added incentive to keep going until the Eiffel Tower looms into view next Saturday. We have been humbled by the support we have received from all corners and we’re delighted that, going into the ride, we know that the Rainbow Trust will be over £5,000 better off due to the generosity of our friends and colleagues.
Tomorrow I’m planning to go out and do a small recce of part of the route we are going to be doing on the first day. Running from Addington to Seal, the 18 mile stretch climbs gradually for the first 8 miles so it is bound to be a bit of a long drag but it will give me an opportunity to try out my new GoPro set up and have a bit of fun on the bike before the serious stuff starts
After that it really will be about figuring out what to pack! Weather in France looks fairly warm next week so I don’t envisage needing the thermal jacket!
So it really is all downhill to the off from here, I just wish it was all downhill to Paris!
A pause for thought on Walton Bridge this morning!
We have a little over a week until our trip to Paris starts – and I am looking forward to it. Not least with a little trepidation, there is always more training and preparation that could have been done.
I know that it will be wretchedly hard work, yet doing so with a dear friend and for a great cause will make it enjoyable.
While I was out for a ride this morning, I reflected on why we are doing it. I think about Iris a lot, everyday in fact. I truly hope that is case for the rest of my life – because while other children grow older, Iris will always be two and half to Kate and I.
Excuse me while I climb inelegantly onto my political high horse. The reason that the Rainbow Trust rely on idiots like Iain and I for fundraising, is that a tiny fraction of their funding comes from government. They provide an essential service at the toughest possible time, and yet there are hundreds of family’s unable to access it due to demand.
Nonsensical austerity, and tory disdain for anyone other than themselves has had proven appalling results – just look at Grenfell Tower recently. That a charity has sprung up to plug the gap of those that need it is telling of the very best of humanity, it is frustrating that government cannot see it.
The most at need in society should be looked after, and not allow to slip between the gaps, and that is what Rainbow do, regardless of class or wealth.
I cannot imagine how hard our lives would have been without Mary – she was a little Lancastrian whirl wind, making sure we got to hospital, knew what was going on, and was a beacon, of energy, humour and compassion.
Long may Rainbow continue.
See you on the road to Paris,
Love and hugs,
Both Adam and I turn 40 this year and, thanks to our lovely wives, our birthday gifts contained an opportunity to get off the road to do a track taster session on the Olympic track at Lea Valley Velodrome
It is an incredibly impressive structure, £93m of brilliantly engineered track befitting of the GB Olympic triumphs that occurred there in 2012 as well as Sir Wiggo’s Hour Record. Laura Kenny said at the time that the design of the track was so good that you could feel the difference in pursuit circumstances.
The inside was incredibly daunting to be honest, with banking that ranged from the flat safety strip to 42 degrees at the top of the curves the scale up close is so much different to what you see on the TV!
The other more apparent issue to me, at the start, was that I had never ridden a fixie bike with no brakes. I think that was the part of the whole experience that made me the most apprehensive. A few gentle laps of the safety strip and I was starting to get the hang of it, although controlling a steady pace that is comfortable for you can be difficult if the person in front has a comfortable pace that is different to yours! Boo you man in yellow!
As we progressed up the track, onto the Cote (the light blue strip on the edge of the track), then the black line, then the red, the pace increased and we were able to start to overtake with clear instruction to the person in front to hold their line by shouting “Stay!”.
The physics of the velodrome combined with the fixed nature of the bike really punishes you! You have to keep pedalling regardless and the higher you go up the track, the more watts you have to lay down. I had incredible respect for the track riders before this experience but having the chance to experience what they do has elevated them even further in my estimations. It is a tough, relentless sport that requires stamina, power, fitness, concentration and mental fortitude – the speed that the pros go at intensifies all of those requirements.
It was a brilliant experience and I will definitely head back there for another go…. maybe I’ll incorporate the BMX track next time too!