A wise woman once said “It does not matter how fast you ride if you cannot finish; the key is to learn to ride optimally. Ultra-cycling racing is more about you and less about the other person”.
About 10 days have passed now since that epic cycle ride from London to Edinburgh and back. Since then, many blogs and Facebook group posts have been written with riders’ and volunteers’ tales of London-Edinburgh-London. All contain great stories of camaraderie and ingenuity when faced with challenges. This left me with a warm feeling and appreciation for how much kindness there is in this wonderful Audax community. It also left me with an itching desire to experience it all over again in four years’ time. As time passes by, my memory of the ride fades along with any physical niggles I may have picked up along the way. I could add my account of what happened along the way to Chris Herbert’s and Darren Franks’ excellent blogs which cover 2/3rd of my story anyway. Instead, I prefer to tap into those lingering thoughts and feelings that make LEL so special, that make me want to do it again, and that make me want to encourage anyone reading this blog to join me in 2021. LEL: you’re under my skin.
Last weekend 5 really cool things happened: 1. I became the 2017 women’s national 24hr TT champion and – with a provisional distance of 456.45 miles – I came within touching distance of the all-time women’s competition record (461.45 miles), despite enduring far from ideal conditions; 2. I also became the 1st woman ever to get onto the overall podium at a national 24hr championship; 3. Together with my team mates Lynne Biddulph and Jacqueline Hobson we won the team prize; 4. Together with my fantastic crew, I ticked a last important confidence box ahead of my Land’s End to John o’ Groats record attempt in September; and 5. Thanks to James Hayden I finally rode a proper deep section HED Jet 9 wheel, something I didn’t think I would ever achieve as I am such a chicken!
On the May Bank Holiday Saturday, I started my first solo reconnaissance ride of the Land’s End to John o’ Groats record attempt route with a mixture of foolishness and optimism – two ingredients that are definitely required for this challenge. Six days later I arrived in John o’ Groats a little wiser, but possibly even more excited for next year’s record attempt. Bring it on!
It took me a year, but I am super chuffed to have achieved last year’s goal: winning the National 12hr TT title. Being awarded the Best British All-Rounder title last year was amazing – and I wouldn’t do it justice by considering it ‘solace’ for missing out on my main goal – but winning the Nat12hr this year means a lot to me, as this was the one my heart was really set on.
…from the wonderful world of aerodynamics and power data to the equally quirky scene of AudaxUK…
Probably one of the most popular hashtags among UK timetriallist on Twitter is #smashitup. Coined by (I believe) TT Champion of Champs Matt Bottrill and used by many of his coached riders, this approach may work for some but for me #mixitup is a much more appealing philosophy.
Having spent most of 2014 and 2015 training on my own, mostly indoors on the turbo, and racing yet another dual carriage way timetrial at the weekends, I recently just had enough of it. I think it was a bit of a vicious circle effect. I no longer enjoyed what I was doing and that showed in my performance. Also, because I no longer performed as well (whether that is due to other things in life getting in the way of training or just my training approach no longer being as effective), I started to enjoy my timetrialling even less.
So, following the motto that ‘a change is as good as a rest’, I went from the wonderful world of Cycling Time Trials with its aerodynamics and power data geeks to the equally quirky scene of AudaxUK (The Long Distance Cyclists’ Association) with its route sheets, maximum speeds and some men sporting very fine beards indeed.
For my last birthday I asked my dad for Eileen Sheridan’s autobiography ‘Wonder Wheels’ as she is a big inspiration (see this blog post from last year). During a trip to Rome with my husband at the end of last season, I finally found time to read the book on the plane.