What motivated you to take part in Ride London 2019?
I live on the cycle route not far from The Pavilion. Each year when the roads close for the annual bike ride we go to a neighbour’s house and traditionally have bacon rolls and Bloody Mary’s, whilst watching thousands of cyclists pedal away down towards the depths of Surrey.
Last year whilst watching the action unfold I thought to myself, I have never done anything like this… always been supporting and watching every sport under the sun. So, I decided there and then that I would go into the ballot, get myself fit enough to participate in Ride London, cycle 100 miles and it would be me going past my house next year and finish in front of Buckingham Palace!
I had another incentive. I travel a lot with work, and business travel was not doing me any favours on the weight front. I couldn’t keep blaming the scales, convincing myself that next Monday would be when the diet would start, I needed a target…something that would give me a real focus, an added motivation, a challenge to train for and something I felt I could really achieve.
What steps did you take to prepare you for this challenge?
As a complete beginner to road biking I decided to buy some bike magazines, go onto the internet and just see what was out there to get some tips on what needed to do. I was actually quite surprised to see how much you could find on training for such events, and it wasn’t all targeted at seasoned cyclists, there was plenty of advice for cyclists new to the sport.
It was clear from the offset that most would prepare around 10 weeks before the event. There were plenty of training plans available including many web links from the event organisers. As I was new to the sport, I decided to get Christmas out of the way and make January my starting point (I know another excuse you may say!) however, this left plenty of time to prepare for the ride in August. As the first step I signed up for Personal Training with Andrew and together we agreed ‘the Plan’. We started working on my stamina, my muscular endurance, in particular legs and upper body and core. As I was starting to train more it really motivated me to look at my lifestyle, making just a few changes really made a difference. I also started participating in the RPM/spinning classes at the gym, started with one a week but then sometimes two. All the instructors are very supportive and help in your setup, technique and also interested to hear your progress, they really do make a difference.
In February I bought the bike. I felt it was very important to get a proper road bike rather than a standard bike, or a mountain bike. This was sound advice from friends who simply said it would be much harder if you didn’t get a road bike in training and on the ride itself. Don’t be put off by the price tags on some of the road bikes, but with a long ride, you want to get the right equipment. I spoke to the advisors in the cycle shops and found you don’t have to get out a second mortgage, you can spend as little or as much as you feel you can afford, it was not a barrier and I got kitted out for a reasonable amount (less than I thought).
So now I had the gear, I enlisted a friend to become a cycle partner, I knew how important this would be in terms of motivation. Finally, we hit the road and gradually built up our outdoor distances slowly but surely. As the weather improved in the springtime, I really started to feel the difference in my fitness and energy, with my outdoor rides, my weekly Personal Training and also my weekly Spin/RPM class. It may sound like a lot, but because I started gradually and approached it one step a time it did not feel overwhelming. Looking back, I think that above all, consistency was the key, just get out and do something and keep moving.
You also threw in the London-Brighton ride as part of your preparation for Ride London, let’s not forget that!
London to Brighton was a couple months before hand so this felt like a good opportunity to do an organised event, to raise some money for charity in the process. It was a less intense ride, some open roads, some narrow roads, some hills (one very steep one!) but really helped giving me experience of cycling in groups, how to prepare for the start of an event and what I would roughly expect on my main challenge. It was a great part of my training, boosted my confidence and having completed 54 miles on the roads, I felt If I could achieve this then I was well on my way to achieving my goal of 100 miles in August.
As I mentioned earlier, I live on the Ride London route and with my training partner we embarked on riding various stages of the Surrey loop that would be in the event in August. This gave me confidence in not only the distance, but we practiced many of the hill climbs. Once I had mastered these I felt ready to take on the whole course as it just seemed to be a real mental breakthrough. Don’t get me wrong they weren’t easy, but like everything you work for it gets easier the more you train and the more you try. Also, don’t forget you can walk up a hill as a worst case scenario, so its not the end of the world if you don’t reach the top!
During your training/preparation, what did you find to be your biggest obstacle(s)?
Work can get in the way, travelling for example, a couple of weeks can be lost, you can worry your progress is affected. But I think if you start early enough and just keep doing something, then you shouldn't have to worry so much about losing ground in your progress. I found that even when I missed a week, or even two, it didn’t put me back that far. However, I was looking after myself better so I think this made a difference too. As I previously mentioned the hills sounded daunting, but we mapped them out, took them in stages, planned a coffee and cake stop afterwards and just enjoyed it. We made it a challenge but it was also enjoyable.
So after all the training and preparation, how was the big day?
Fantastic, exhausting and extremely rewarding. It’s such a huge event and the atmosphere is very special, even when your body starts to flag so many people line the route and cheer you on all the way. I must admit that as I did cycle past my house, I felt a real sense of pride and satisfaction that I am achieving something special to me. It is amazing what a boost to your confidence and wellbeing that taking such a positive step can make. The added fitness and energy is of course a real part of that.
Has completing such an event inspired you to seek out another challenge?
I’m not going to say it’s inspired me to conquer the world and swim the channel. The fact I set a goal, stuck to it and achieved it, has made a real difference to me. Since the ride I have kept up my fitness and been self motivated to do so. When you feel the difference in fitness levels, it’s not only good for the body, you feel better in yourself, I want to continue that.
I may look to a new challenge as I really enjoyed raising money for charity, it not only motivates you, but you feel part of a team helping worthwhile causes. In the meantime I will continue going out on my bike, I will keep going to the spin classes, combined with the personal training/gym work.'
So you enjoyed the challenge & it has clearly inspired you to keep going.
Yes it has! Events like Ride London can seem a daunting prospect, but this particular cycle event has 3 distance courses, so you can set yourself a goal to do a 19 mile ride, 46 or 100 miles, depending on the person’s ability, so there is no excuse and you can set your own challenge. Increase your fitness, build confidence no matter what level you are at. There is the social aspect to as well. It could be a Hyde Park walk, a jog/run, a bike ride. I think it’s just important to do something, challenge yourself but comit to it and enjoy it.
One final point I would like to add is that I found the staff at The Pavilion to be really helpful, Influential and very supportive in preparing me to complete this challenge. The Spin/RPM Instructors like Chris helped me to gain a greater understanding with my technique. In the gym, the Personal Training helped me to build up my cardio and strength further. Andrew helped me to better understand the mechanics of my body, as well as better prepare for the exercise for the challenge ahead. So thank you to all the team!