RideLondon FreeCycle 2015

I didn’t get a place on the RideLondon 100 this year, so instead myself and Nicky went up to London the day before to take part in the FreeCycle. An 8 mile route around the centre of London is closed off to traffic and for 7 short hours the roads are owned by bikes!

We drove to Upminster and got the mainline train from there. I had been a bit worried about getting the bikes on the train – I had assumed they would be busy with others also trying to get their bikes on the train, but as it turned out there was plenty of room. From Fenchurch Street it was not far to get onto the route.

It was a fantastic day out and very enjoyable – Nicky did brilliantly, at his age I was barely out of stabilisers but he managed 30km and probably could have done more, he was a natural at picking his way through the crowds and only had one ‘off’ when he rubbed tyres with someone in front, but he got straight back on and carried on. I couldn’t be more proud! The festival sites around the route were also good, Nicky had a go at handcycling, and there were stunt bikes and other performances everywhere. Everyone had a smile on their face :-)

I’ll upload some photos when I get a chance – there are some great ones on marathon-photos.com which I’ll buy at some point. I’ve applied for the sportive again next year but I’m sure we’ll do the FreeCycle again regardless as it was lots of fun!

Recovery

My legs are getting better slowly – I don’t really notice my quadriceps tendons throughout the day now, just occasionally. My IT bands are still a little tight, at the moment I’m just going out for one ride a week (work, etc. has been getting in the way of cycling, I need a job where I’m paid to cycle!) and the IT bands only start getting sore towards the end of the ride.

I saw the cyclists finishing London-Southend on Sunday which made me a little depressed; this time last year I was much fitter having cycled to the start and come back via the long route, but I didn’t do it this year as my legs are suffering and I don’t think I’m fit enough to do it justice. It’ll be a long road back to fit as I have to nurse my legs for a bit longer, it’s very frustrating!

Out of sorts

Since completing the Essex Explorer at the end of May, I’ve only been on the road bike once due to sore legs. The ride obviously took quite a bit out of me, but then the day after that road bike ride I took Nicky to the mountain bike track at Hadleigh Farm. We spent about an hour there going around the pump track and the skills area (we had a look at the proper course but it’s a bit too steep for Nicky currently) and had a great time. However, my mountain bike is not the best and really doesn’t fit me very well, and I think going over all the bumps has knackered my legs!

The main areas of complaint are my quadriceps tendons and the IT bands on both sides. Not much I can do other than rest really, they’re getting better slowly. I might go out for a slow ride tomorrow just to see how my legs cope because it’s driving me mad not being able to cycle!

KILOTOGO Essex Explorer 2015

Date: 31st May 2015
Distance: 175.7km
Average speed: 23.7km/h

Well, that was really, really hard. It took me just under 8 hours to finish, the conditions were far from ideal (it was very windy and wet at times) and my legs were sore before I started!

The first 50 miles or so weren’t too bad, although I was in full wet gear due to the forecast of showers (which did appear throughout the day) so I wasn’t as comfortable as I could be. The main reason for the good going was the tailwind, which would soon bite us on the bottom when we turned around for home.

I have been struggling for fitness ever since my health problems last year, and my legs especially are suffering – I think I maybe overdid it at the start of the year and have various aches (my quadriceps tendons and IT bands especially), so for the last half of the ride I struggled whenever the road went uphill. The last stretch from Chelmsford onward was horrible, directly into the wind and my legs had gone, I would crawl along at 16km/h for a while before getting a burst of energy, quickly to fade back to 16km/h again!

Many thanks to Geoff who did the whole ride with me, I’m sure I slowed him down quite a bit. I need to let my legs heal up properly and get properly fit before attempting another century.

The organisation itself was top-notch as always with KILOTOGO – the route was well signposted, food stops were well stocked (and the hot drinks in the last stop were really appreciated!) and the finish line commentary was good for morale! I had a massage at the end which was definitely needed, otherwise I would have been a wreck the next day!

On the mend

My hamstrings seem OK now – I’ve been out for a ride with Nicky today, and also pedalled a 4-seater go-kart last week on holiday with the kids on – according to Strava I got it up to 17mph! It was much harder than it looked and I appreciated the workout, and my legs aren’t suffering too much.

The weather has improved recently and so I think Tuesday’s ride will see the Ribble making its first appearance this year :-) I can’t wait!

More enforced rest

I’ve managed to pull a hamstring playing squash, so I’m not going to be riding for a while – probably at least a week, then I’m away the week after. Not the best preparation for a long bike ride (I finally signed up for the Essex Explorer at the end of May) but the rest might do me some good, I might even stop having stomach muscle aches too. Not so good for my mental health though as cycling is one of the few times I get to unwind and be alone with my thoughts.

I’m really pleased that pro cycling is back and there have been some great races recently. It was brilliant to see Geraint Thomas win E3 yesterday, and Milan-Sanremo last week was also great to watch – it’d be nice though to see Cav back in proper action without any slipped chains causing him grief (how hard can it be to adjust the derailleurs properly?) It’s pretty disappointing that Cancellara and Boonen will miss Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Would be great to see Wiggo finishing off his road career in style in Roubaix, but I think it’ll probably come down to a sprint and Degenkolb would be the favourite there.

Still not well

I’m feeling pretty miserable at the moment, I’ve not been cycling much recently for a variety of reasons, mostly related to lack of sleep and ill health. I’m on antibiotics for a stomach bug at the moment, I have a toothache which is most likely going to require a root canal and I think have a muscle strain around my groin as well. So I’ve only been out once in the last fortnight, and even on that ride I didn’t feel too well. Rest is best is the usual advice but I’m going mad not being able to go out, and we’re only two and a half months away from the Wiggle Essex Explorer sportive which I was planning to do – the less training I do beforehand the more stressed I am going to be!

Tired

I’ve not been cycling much recently as I’ve had a couple of bad weeks sleep-wise – after last week’s 102km I’ve only managed one ride of 63.2km. I might go for a quick ride today just to get a quick workout, but I was up at ridiculous o’clock again and whilst not as tired as yesterday I’m not sure if I should go for it or not.

It’s very frustrating as I had all these plans to start getting fitter but as my youngest son isn’t sleeping it throws everything out. Hopefully this period will pass soon and my training can get back on track. Speaking of track, I still have my velodrome session to book!

Metric century

On Tuesday I wanted to go out for a long ride – my work day was fairly quiet and the sun was out, and I desperately needed to get back into the swing of things. The first 60km or so I rode with Geoff, and our pace was OK, and by the time we went our separate ways I was still feeling pretty good, having not done any silly sprint efforts to go for KOMs. I did have a few steep hills in my legs though (steep for me, anyway) and I probably wasn’t eating enough at this point. I also stopped for 5 minutes at 80km to chat to a couple of friends, after which things started to get a bit tricky. The last 10km was very hard, I had to force myself to do another loop in order to push myself over the 100km mark!

Afterwards I was very tired, but the endorphins helped cover for that for an hour or so. After that it was a struggle to get to the kids’ bedtime, let alone mine! Still, it was my first metric century for many months, and my longest ride since last July (Southend-London-Southend), a week after which I was in hospital. I probably won’t get a chance to do such a long ride for a couple of weeks now, but I just have to keep the training up – I’ve decided to follow the plans from Cycling Weekly which promise you can get fit in 4 hours a week, we’ll see how it goes.

Disappointment

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I got this through the door to confirm that I’m not doing RideLondon this year :-( The magazine is full of adverts saying ‘never mind, you can ride for our charity!) but there’s no way I can raise £600, especially as I work from home. So I’ll have to find some other sportives to do.

I did a 28 mile ride on Monday which is my longest ride for a while, I had wanted to go out today but I’m not sure if there’s a problem with the freehub, I get a clunking noise when I pedal hard and I don’t know if it’s always been like that or if it’s just since I changed the cassette. Roll on spring and I can get my good bike out! Might start saving for a cyclocross bike to use next winter.