This week I embarked upon my longest training ride for Ride London100 to date. Along with my training group and female-only coaching company Revolution Cycling I had a date with a lot of miles, a date I don’t mind telling you I was somewhat dreading.

My previous longest distance was 50 miles and afterwards I hurt all over. I was also late for the ride, managed to lock my car keys inside my car and arrived generally stressed, flustered and anxious.

Not great preparation. But I wanted to do the ride regardless, because I had a sneaking suspicion that over the course and distance I would learn quite a bit about cycling, about myself, and about life in general.

 

10 miles in:

I learned that the bone-aching tiredness that often comes hand-in-hand with being a mother to two young children can literally melt away given the prospect of good company, a beautiful route and a newly-serviced bike. I also learned that I am now the only person in my training group that doesn’t ride with cleats.

 

20 miles in:

I learned that you can feel the effect of training even in the early miles. Somehow without realising it you are faster and stronger. Even if you’re not quite sure how because any time you look at your Strava stats your speed hasn’t improved, no matter how much you try and follow your training plan instructions and up the tempo.

 

30 miles in:

I learned that being the only member of a group not riding in cleats is going to take a toll. Cleats terrify me. I trained in them briefly last year and could not get to grips with them at all. After several clattering falls and a great deal of whimpering in terror every time I approached a junction, roundabout or traffic light in case I needed to unclip, I went back to pedals. At some point very soon I need to muster up all my remaining courage that isn’t used up in the day-to-day business of mothering, and crack cleats once and for all.

 

40 miles in:

I learned that Box Hill is a much tougher prospect when you approach it after 40 miles, as opposed to after 12 miles as I usually do. I’ve never thought this climb that challenging before. I have changed my opinion slightly. I also learned that the café at the top of Box Hill is a gleaming haven, an oasis of hope, happiness and jelly beans.

 

50 miles in:

I learned that after a certain point pain does fade. After 50 miles on a saddle that could double up as an instrument of torture, my backside really felt OK. Genuinely. I have no doubt this was a temporary state, but it was very pleasant while it lasted. Maybe it was all those jelly beans.

 

60 miles in:

I learned that I can ride further than 50 miles and not keel over with exhaustion, which had been my fear. In fact I felt pretty good. If tired! I also learned that my old boss was right when she droned on and on about the ‘seven P’s’. Proper planning and preparation DOES prevent piss-poor performance. I confess my own planning and preparation was not up to scratch and my performance, whilst not piss-poor, was not quite where I would like it to be. So I have learned that I need to prepare better, I need to master cleats, and I need to lay off the jelly beans because seven hours later I am still picking bits of them out of my teeth.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this I would love it if you could sponsor my husband and me to ride 100 miles for Tommy’s, the baby and pregnancy charity. Our fundraising page is here:

 

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