10 Sept 2013

Cycling: The evaluation. part 1

You will be pleased to know that I survived the 4 days of doom relatively intact. We rode into London and arrived at Moonpig's head office at 9pm last night after a totally HORRIFIC day. Rain combined with a number of hills and legs like jelly made it the hardest day for me by far. But I made it. I cycled the entire route and now have thighs of steel!

So let me give you a quick break down of what went on...

THURSDAY: We left Liverpool St Station with most of the bikes on a train to Harwich and got an overnight ferry to the Netherlands (Hook of Holland). I have never been on an overnight ferry and the experience of sleeping in a cabin was pretty fun! Everyone was pretty psyched for the riding so it was a fun evening. What was not fun was....

FRIDAY (Netherlands): ...4am start. Due to time difference and the ferry docking early it meant we got about 4 hours sleep if that. NOT ENOUGH! We got off the ferry and began the cycling adventure
The group - I'm the one on the right in the blue helmet

It was a great start and we got to cycle along a B-E-A-Utiful coastline. However, as we were doing that I managed to slip on some sand that was on the cycle path and came off my bike. This LOVELY Dutch couple came and helped me and cleaned my knee up while my own back up team arrived but it was a bit of a shock.
I am still not 100% sure I'm ok with someone taking photos of my pain!
Anyway, I got back on and kept going through headwinds, rain and along some beautiful canals. We arrived about 8pm in Bruges having cycled a total of 94 miles. Ate amazing food and drank some beer.

SATURDAY (Belgium): We were supposed to be doing a full 100 miles today but we had heard that the headwinds were due to be incredibly strong and seeing how long it had taken us to do the Friday we decided to do a shorter 50 miles route. It was a good call - beautiful day but still hard work. We got to the hotel in Lille about 6pm and then went to a restaurant that had the SLOWEST service ever. Also ate the rarest steak I have ever seen. 

SUNDAY (France): Today we did a 103 mile day. It was painful. The first half of the day was actually ok. I felt like we were getting into a rhythm and we were going quite fast which was really encouraging. I learnt how to ride in a team (slip stream) and it was pretty flat which was a bonus. The second half of the day was not flat. In fact it was incredibly hilly with one beast of a hill. I had a dodgy sick-in-the-mouth moment at the top which lingered over the next 10 miles or so which I was not happy about. But it was an incredible moment cycling into Calais and knowing I had cycled 101 miles and still had a couple to go. The ferry was insane as we were all booked into the VIP lounge and so I had my glass of champagne and promptly fell asleep. Cycling up a long hill on the other side to reach our hotel in Dover was not fun but I was in a psychological high and people were singing so that helped. 
One of the rest stops with the Moonpig/XLP vans - taking in a lot of water/sugar/carbs
MONDAY (England): Was the worst day by far. 87 miles of PAIN! It was so hilly! Firstly I was feeling very stiff at the start of the day and so getting back on the bike was a challenge. But then the whole rolling hills thing was tough! We weren't going very fast as well so each time we stopped it was a bit disheartening to hear that we had only done a few miles. And then it started to rain. I was SO wet. Like probably from about 10am onwards my shoes were soaked through. However, by this point in the journey I had made a cycling buddy Caroline - we seemed to be going generally the same speed and so decided to stick close by and it helped so much! Made it back to London and cycled a very interesting route through Surrey Quays in Lewisham/Southwark before heading for a celebratory drink.

Things I have learnt/done:
  • Cycling is so a team sport - yes you are an individual on a bike but for so much of it it's the motivation of the team that helps you keep going
  • It is a psychological rollercoaster! One minute I would be doing great and feeling fine and then the next I would be almost crying in pain
  • When you are cycling that distance you are burning at least 4000 calories a day - generally you are supposed to eat 2500ish...so I ate A LOT of carbs over this trip. If you want a sport where you can eat what you want I would recommend this. The amount of snickers/mars bars and general sugar I have consumed is insane!
  • You lose ALL dignity as a cyclist as you learn to pee wherever you can. Even if that is in broad daylight in full view of a road as 20 motorcycles come past....#error
  • Road bikes are amazing. I want one
That's all I can say for now but I'm sure there will be more...just too tired and achey to type more now. 

But thanks so much for your support everyone - raised over £500 for XLP which is great and as a team we are up to £18960....our aim was to get £20000 so if you know anyone who might want to support the cause give them a ribjab and tell them to get on it please. 


35 comments:

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  2. Well done Nai! If you fancy another cycling challenge, there's the Autumn Epic on Sunday 6th October. 95 miles around mid-Wales, so the hills are pretty insane!! If you did this 400 miles, I'm sure you could do another 95 hehe.

    http://www.cyclosportives.co.uk

    Join me :-)

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