When Linda was diagnosed with cancer, it impacted her, her family and all of her friends. Linda was incredibly brave and strong through her treatment and had fantastic care from the University Hospitals of North Midlands. Thankfully Linda is now in full remittance so we decided we should give something back and say a huge thank you to all the fantastic people who helped her through her treatment. So we agreed on a bike ride from her home in Loggerheads, Staffordshire to her static caravan in Tywyn, Gwynedd, a total of 100 miles.
The ride was a real family challenge with my Dad and brother and Linda’s son James. We started training early in 2017 increasing the mileage each week. We are all spread out over the country so most of our training was on our home turf. Mine was around south wales so I got in some nice hilly rides so was well prepared for the terrain.
We planned the route to avoid busy roads and take in the finest scenery, and some good coffee stops.
We set off from Linda’s house on a lovely Sunday morning. We had a great crowd of supporters (and two dogs!) cheering us off. It was great to have such fantastic support and knowing this challenge was for such a heart felt cause. Our first stop was Baschurch, 30 miles of gentle rolling Shropshire hills to warm us up. Our support crew met us for a quick refuel then we were off again! Heading out to Llanfair Caereinion. This section was a bit more challenging with a few good climbs and a few well needed energy gels! We met our support crew at the old steam railway for some tasty high energy flapjack then were off, heading towards the Snowdonia national park. We were out of rural wales and into rugid wales. The scenery was fantastic. A mixture of flapjack and the scenery meant I didn’t notice the climbs too badly. We reached our high point and then it was time for an awesome descent! It seemed like it would never end, but we deserved it! Flowing and fast, no time to watch the scenery go by! Our final rest stop was Mallwyd. From here we headed along the A470 towards Machynlleth and then down the Dyfi Estuary. We though the last section would be a gentle downhill to the coast but there was a good few sneaky up hills to test our tired legs!
After 6 hours of fun and exertion we made it to our finish line. Linda’s caravan! We were rewarded with hugs, medals, champagne and a sit down. It was a great feeling to complete this challenge as a team with the awesome support of our family and support crew. Once off our bikes and refreshed I led a cool down yoga session to sooth and stretch out our tired legs.
Tips for taking on a cycle challenge
- Plan your event and train accordingly. If it’s going to be hilly, find some hills to train on. If it’s going to be fast and flat, find some flat training rides and work on speed.
- Plan your nutrition. Think about how regularly you need to eat to sustain your energy and what works best for you. I like to eat things like nuts, dried fruit, flapjacks and cereal bars with a few gels to keep me going. If I know I have a tough section coming up I’ll prepare by having a gel 10 minutes before.
- Taking on liquids is just as important as energy. I don’t like energy drinks that much so find them hard to drink. I’ve found some I find ok so I take a bottle of that and fill my second bottle with water or squash which I find easy to drink. Find what works for you. Plan your stops so you can refill frequently.
- Plan for weather. If it’s hot, make sure you have sun cream, light layers, sunglasses and plenty of fluids. If it’s cold or wet make sure to take the right layers. Boot covers are great to stop you from getting soggy feet. If possible put spare layers in a support car so you can change mid way if you are wet.
- Plan the route. Plan to cycle an enjoyable route. If possible ride on quiet roads, it’s safer and much nicer. If you like hills, find some! If you don’t detour around them, this may add some miles but will conserve energy if you find the hills a struggle.
- Find a good team! Ride with people of a similar ability who have the same goals. If you want to be competitive then find somebody who wants to push themselves. If you want to just enjoy yourself, find somebody who enjoys the same coffee stops! Try not to ride with people who are much better or worse than you. Constantly playing catch up is no fun.
- Drafting is king! On a long ride, take turns to draft each other. It conserves so much energy and allows you to cruise through the flat sections. If you have a stronger rider who wants to push themselves, let them take more turns at leading and the weaker riders can ride the draft.
In total we raised £4,200 for the University Hospitals of North Midlands. Thanks to everybody that supported us!