Plastic bag

I’ve not been riding much recently. Mostly because of a lack of free time! I did have an incident with a plastic bag last September which put me off for a bit. It was a windy day and I was cycling on the road when I noticed a plastic bag in front of me. I swerved to avoid it but at the last minute the wind blew it into my path. It was a quite a thick bag which wrapped itself completely around my cassette, ripping the derailleur from the hanger and taking out several spokes in the process. Bugger.

Thankfully my local friendly bike mechanic was able to get it roadworthy for around £130. But I didn’t go out at all over winter, mainly due to a nasty cough which has been hanging around for months. I have been out twice in recent weeks though and feel better for it. Hopefully work will ease a bit soon and I can do some longer rides. Nicky wants to do one of the shorter RideLondon routes next year so if he is serious I might have an excuse to get me training again!

Getting Back On It

The summer holidays are always a difficult time to get out on the bike as more often than not I’m having to juggle work and the children being at home. However, in a renewed effort to lose some weight I’ve tried to get out at least twice a week in the last few weeks. This has been hit and miss but I’m definitely cycling more than I did last year.

The recent hot spells actually made cycling more attractive, because the breeze from being out on a ride was preferable to being stuck inside a warm flat. It also makes the cold showers much more comfortable – although I’ve also started doing the Wim Hof method so maybe it shouldn’t be comfortable!

A photo taken of my bike whilst cycling.
No hands!

I’ve lost the bulk of the fitness I’d built up since RideLondon but I’m completely rusty. I’d like this to be the winter where I get properly cycling fit but I have so many other demands on my time that it doesn’t feel like a priority. I’ll still go out though, I need to get the Carerra serviced properly.

I’m also hoping to start running again now that the kids are back at school, there’s just the risk of injuring myself and then not being able to cycle or do capoeira. We’ll see how it goes.

Dietary changes

The major recent change has been to my diet. I started off having meal replacement shakes from Juice Plus+ for a couple of weeks, after that I switched to intermittent fasting where I try to only eat in an eight hour window each day. On top of this I’ve tried to change what I eat. I’ve been eating a lot more fruit instead of eating biscuits or crisps or chocolate.

I am also trying to cut down on meat. A couple of friends have gone plant based recently and whilst I’m still some distance from taking that step it does feel like that’s the path I am on. I’ve switched from dairy milk to soy milk for my tea, I’ve been having it for a few months now and can’t tell the difference. I’ve been sticking to Meat Free Monday since Glastonbury with just the one week off when I was on holiday. I actually had four vegetarian days last week, and have been deliberately choosing vegetarian options when I eat out. So far it has been going well. I’ve lost 11lb since going on holiday at the start of August.

RideLondon-Essex 100 2022

Date: 29th May 2022
Distance: 164.95km
Average speed: 28.4km/h

Compared to my two previous RideLondon experiences, everything felt very rushed. The ride was in May rather than July, meaning I had two fewer months of training (my own fault for not pushing earlier). We also didn’t receive instructions until quite close to the start day, by which time the hotel I’d had my eye on was sold out. I ended up booking one at South Mimms, and booked parking not far from Whitehall.

Getting there on time

My two previous attempts had taught me the importance of giving myself plenty of time to arrive for my wave, and this time I got it right. In fact, I arrived on Whitehall earlier than necessary, although this allowed me time for an emergency toilet stop(!) Everything was rather busy, which still feels weird in a post-Covid world.

I set off on-time and made excellent progress, the wind had been forecast to be coming towards us but we seemed reasonably sheltered. My leges feeling much better than I’d anticipated, the adrenaline was overriding the lack of sleep at this point. I was able to surf quite a lot of wheels and after two hours I was well on course to beat 6 hours.

Unfortunately, I had to stop shortly afterwards for just over 30 minutes due to an incident up ahead – I believe an air ambulance was required to take an injured rider to hospital. It was unfortunate but couldn’t be helped. In a way it helped, because with the delay I knew my chance of beating 6 hours was gone, so I didn’t have to stress about it.

Untimed stop

New this year was the decision not to include the time spent in the rest areas. I suppose it removes some of the “race” element and encourages riders not to rush in crowded areas, but it still felt a little bit like cheating to me. I only stopped once this year, just after the half-way mark. It took around ten minutes as we had to cycle a fair distance away from the course, and it was very busy. I was desperate for the toilet at this point after the enforced stop earlier, and I also refilled my bottles.

Back to London

There was a headwind now which made things slightly easier. My legs were feeling a bit tired now and I suffered the ignominy of being overtaken by a man in a chicken costume! My left calf cramped with around 20 miles left to go, but it wasn’t too bad. At around the 90 mile mark I started to get a little emotional as I knew I was going to finish. The Samaritans cheering point near the end offered some much-needed motivation!

Cycling on the A12 was exhausting at the end. I still had plenty of speed when going downhill or on the flat, but going uphill was horrible. Not that there are any major hills there, but at this point any uphill section felt like the Mur de Huy! We had to stop a few times as we approached the finish due to stewards allowing traffic to cross. This felt a little cruel so close to the finish line.

Due to crowding we were told not to sprint as we crossed the line, which again took some of the joy out of the occasion. But I got a decent photo of me celebrating!


We had to dismount as soon as we crossed the finish line, and as soon as I got off the bike my right knee started complaining. I had to shuffle in my cycling shoes all the way around to near London Bridge before I could get on my way again. The ride back to the car park was a little painful, but I was mostly just very pleased to have finished.

My actual official time was 6 hours 9, which didn’t include the time for my stop. I was ecstatic with this! Sure, there’s no Leith Hill or Box Hill but considering what I’ve been through in the last couple of years this feels like a massive achievement.

I’ve uploaded some photos to Google Photos. No video this year.

I don’t know if I’d do it again. The organisation was nowhere near as good as in previous years, obviously Covid and a new route have made a difference, but it was much better with a bike park and events at the finish where you could relax.

I’ve raised £461 for Samaritans which I’m so pleased about. Without Samaritans I wouldn’t have been here to do this ride, I make a monthly donation but am still happy to have raised this additional funding.

Life Getting in the Way

The last year has been very tough in multiple ways. Lockdowns meant the kids were home from school a lot so spare time was at a premium, and then I separated from my wife and had to find somewhere to live, move everything across and start again. Now though I feel like I can start again. The children have gone back to school and there is more routine to my life, so I can try and work out some kind of training plan to return to fitness.

The number of times I’ve properly cycled since my last entry is maybe not even to double figures. I had massive struggles with my mental health which meant I cycled less. Cycling was always one method I had for dealing with stress so it meant things got pretty bad. I’m happier now than I have been in a long time, perhaps ever.

I’m doing London-Southend this weekend. It feels a bit like jumping in at the deep end! I went for a 40km ride last weekend just to see how my legs would feel. My legs were OK but other areas were feeling a bit sore! It was very windy too, so I think Sunday should be fine: it should be more sheltered and I’ll be riding with friends so can get a bit of a tow.

I went for a mountain bike ride a couple of weeks ago with a friend. It’s such a different discipline to road cycling. I was not confident riding down hills when the ground is not solid! It was fun though and I’m going to try and head off-road a bit more in the winter months.


I didn’t cycle much at the start of the year as I had a nasty cold which included a lot of coughing. Not conducive to performing well on a bike! The irony is that my cycling has increased massively since the lockdown began. I’ve no other outlets for exercise as capoeira and boot camp are no longer on, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of cycling.

There are some mechanical issues. The chain rings on the Carrera TdF need replacing, but they don’t seem to be individually fitted so I think the whole crank needs replacing, something I’m not sure I’m up to. I’ll take another look later in the year, but for now I’ve simply swapped to the Ribble. The warm weather has coincided nicely with the lockdown! However, the chain and cassette need replacing, I’ve ordered the parts but there’s been a bit of a delay witih the retailer despatching them – fair enough given the circumstances.

I think I’m going to order some new sunglasses soon, as the prescription insert on my current ones is practically falling part – there’s only so much superglue I can put on it! I think a new helmet is due as well, as the clasp is starting to fall apart. It’s not urgent so I’ll keep an eye out for any offers.

On the family side, Rory has finally learned how to cycle without stabilisers. I got him a new bike for his birthday and something has finally clicked – we managed a 6km ride with me and the children last week, and Rory has discovered the joy of cycling downhill. I look forward to some more family rides, especially if the lockdown continues into the summer.