Ride of the Roses

So yesterday I took on my biggest cycling challenge to date; 100 mile Ride of the Roses to raise money for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. The stunning route through Lancashire to the Trough of Bowland.

I started cycling three months ago when I purchased a road bike via the cycle to work scheme.Having only ever ridden mountain bikes I found the road bike incredibly strange at first and was nervous to go over circa 10mph on the flat thinking I’d hit a stone and my tyres would explode! After a few solitary and boring rides of <20 miles I was invited to join a couple of friends of mine and hit the hills.

Fortunately we have amazing cycle routes on our door step taking in the most incredible countryside and some challenging elevation. Making the most of the long summer evenings we soon established a regular training schedule getting out a couple of nights after work to hit the hills and a longer distance ride of a weekend circa 40-60 miles. Craig and Paul were training for a Triathlon and I needed to get the miles in for the Rat Race Coast to Coast which Helen and I will be taking on this weekend. I soon developed a love for cycling that I’ve never felt for running and we always stop for coffees, ice cream or a well-rewarded G&T afterwards which made it even more enjoyable!

For all the fun aspects, I have, however, had a few problems; learning to use cleats I fell off the bike twice (while stationary) clipped in. One of those times into nettles, although nothing more than my pride was hurt! I also cannot stress the importance of having a bike fit as the first bike I purchased was too large which caused discomfort when riding. The new bike, only a few inches smaller makes all the difference…size really does matter!

Yesterday’s ride was the furthest distance challenge as the max we had done in training was 60mi. We started at 7:45 after registration and set off in waives or circa 15 people to keep everybody safe amongst the traffic on the busy roads. We felt good and were averaging 19mph. I had packed a loaf of jam and peanut butter sandwiches and was using the ride to practice fuelling for Rat Race as I’m still afraid of reaching for the drinks bottle while cycling as I wobble all over the place. Eating and doing cardio is an art for sure and I’m certain I wasn’t looking my best munching on sandwiches with my mouth open while whizzing down the road! The first half was enjoyable, lots of interesting scenery and undulating ground. The guys were setting a fast pace and I tried hard to keep up but often they had to stop and wait. The great thing about these rides is how friendly all the participants are, stopping to help each other with various mechanical issues and generally having a chat and offering words of encouragement. I met so many lovely people and I don’t even know their names!

The halfway point was the biggest climb and although only 868ft, the accumulative mileage and overall elevation gain of 3,918 ft. was starting to take its toll. We were all feeling a bit tired at the fuel stop but several cliff bars and bananas later we had a second wind and were off. The rest of the ride was quite speedy but the final ten miles with a pretty strong headwind felt like an eternity and I had run out of energy at that point. The worst thing for me is the discomfort from the saddle and being sat for so many hours in one position! I tried my friend’s cyclocross bike this evening and had to stand up my bum was so sore…nobody tells you about these problems!!

Overall a fantastic event for an amazing charity and a very rewarding experience. Bring on the Coast to Coast now!