This is Part 4 of Danielle's serialised blog leading up to her big event in June. For the other chapters, click here.


The most frustrating aspect of training for a specific event is the ever-looming, unchangeable deadline! Because however hard you try to maintain consistent, solid training, there is always a great big spanner in the background, jumping up and down like an excited child, waiting for its chance to launch headfirst and mess everything up.

Most weeks that spanner is work or family commitments, but at the end of January I lost two whole weeks to a flu bug.

I hate being ill, obviously, everyone does, but there are definitely degrees of hate here. Sometimes it’s actually quite nice to have the excuse to sit on the sofa and watch back-to-back episodes of a gripping drama. But when you have an event on the horizon, missing several sessions just adds to the anxiety.

Fifteen minutes in and I had my first major wake-up call. Queen Of The Mountains? I don’t think so!

I am quite good at being sensible and this bug gave me no choice, but I know many people struggle mentally and try to train through. Wondering if maybe there is a case for at least some gentle exercise, I decided to do some research and this is what I found:

“Medical advice dictates that if an illness is above the neckline – for example, a stuffy nose or head cold – then exercise can be continued, but anything below, such as a chesty cough or a virus should call a temporary halt to your training.”

Although this confirmed that I should cease training, it still seemed crazy to me - even a head cold can knock the stuffing out of you and trying to train through it is not going to yield great results. Also, when did we all become sufficiently qualified to know just how ill is too ill?

For me, the problem is not just being ill, it’s also about the loss of momentum and rather than being itching to get training again, I found I was quite liking doing nothing!

Then there’s the backlog of everything else that has been abandoned during this time, so even when I did feel well enough to train again I had a mountain of work that took priority.

I wobbled to a panicky, feeble, standstill and began a sorry push up the hill. Pathetic.

Fortunately, it's also true that your muscles remember what to do and it didn’t take long to get back on track – well, sort of. One sunny lunchtime, I decided to squeeze a quick ride in and since I only had an hour or so to spare I thought ”I know, I’ll go scenic and hilly! I can ‘do’ hills now and that is an efficient use of my time”

  Quiet Lane - how bad could it be?!

Fifteen minutes in and I had my first major wake-up call. Queen Of The Mountains? I don’t think so! It turns out that narrow, country lanes in the aftermath of a major storm are not so straightforward. Within about 50 metres of my first serious hill I was pushing... Confronted with a constant stream of floodwater, debris (in the shape of gravelly mud, sticks and rocks), as well as potholes big enough to disappear down, I wobbled to a panicky, feeble, standstill and began a sorry push up the hill. Pathetic.

  Pretty bad, that's how bad!

By the next major hill I had given myself a serious talking to and set off with gusto, but again the nerves kicked in and I found myself giving up all too quickly. There was nothing to do but freewheel back down and start again.

  The next hill

I found a farm entrance this time and entered the hill side-on, which meant that I could sort out my gears early on. So rather than having a flying run-up, I took it slow and steady from the start, which meant I avoided that desperate stage where you try to keep the momentum going. It made the whole attempt much calmer and although I did stop once for a breather, I did get going again.

All-in-all, by the end of my ride, lessons had been learned and my confidence regained. Now if someone could explain how you get going again on a steep hill, in a low gear, I should be most grateful… I am sure you can picture the scene!

Great gear to get you riding again