100 mile challenge with only five rides in 15 months?

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So my better half has gotten herself into a bit of a pickle. She was asked if she would be interested in taking part in a small cycling challenge for charity starting in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh and ending in Newcastle, County Down. The distance is more or less 100 miles and could be termed as a tad lumpy. Did I mention that she hasn’t ridden a bike since St Patrick’s Day…..2013?
As I am a caring husband and cycle relatively frequently, I stepped up and said that I would take her place which she gratefully accepted.
For about an hour.
Then her competitive (stubborn) streak took over and she decided she will indeed take part. Now, to be fair she’s pretty fit but most people who cycle will recognise the fairly obvious fact that to get on a bike and ride 100 miles just isn’t quite that straightforward. You don’t know your limits, you haven’t got any miles in your legs, you don’t know how your body will react to 7, 8, 9 hours on the saddle.
Anyway, we worked out that she would be able to go for a ride a total of five times between making the decision and the event (7th June).
Ride #1 – 14 miles from Bangor to Donaghadee and back (flat).
Ride #2 – 30 miles from Bangor to Greyabbey and back (flat).
Ride #3 – 40 miles from Bangor around some hills in County Down (lumpy).
Rides #4 & #5 are taking place this weekend which will cover about 55 miles each and need to include some climbs.
So the question is “Will she do it?”
Actually the question is “Will she beat me?”
“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling.” – Jean de Gribaldy (Sean Kelly’s directeur sportif.)
The Giant

The Penny May Have Dropped?

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So the 100th Tour de France has come and gone and for what it’s worth I would consider that Chris Froome’s victory was one of the most enjoyable to watch in the last 25 years – there’s nothing better than seeing the yellow jersey attack his peers in the mountains and Froome did that in the Pyrenees and the Alps – so chapeau Froome.

Obviously the high point for me was the Bastille Day stage which finished on the summit of Mont Ventoux.  I sat glued to the TV taking in every second, trying to work out how relentless it is and reassuring myself that the majority of the peleton was in bits because they were riding too big a gear (it’s amazing how you can fool yourself).  I tried to imagine being there, climbing each metre, trying to identify key landmarks, noting points of relief and points of pain.  The more I listened to the commentators and watched the riders one by one break, the more I felt a little sick inside and I’m sure my complexion turned a tad pale.

What was even more interesting and arguably more disconcerting was when the camera panned out from the helicopter and showed the extent of the Ventoux climb and I saw the looks on my fellow viewers’ faces.  I’d like to think that what they were thinking was “wow, look at that mighty impressive mountain there.”  But I got the impression the general consensus was “expletive deleted, how the hell is HE going to get up there three times?”

That wasn’t the end of it.  I was at my barbers the next week.  Now those who know me will understand that due to a twist of fate – namely my sister becoming a hairdresser and using me as her training dummy during my teenage years – having my hair-cut is not the most relaxing experience in my world and probably warrants a blogsite of its own.  You think I’ve got cycling demons?  Don’t talk to me about demi-waves and highlights.  I digress.  We were having some chat about things in general when he asked me if had been watching the Tour.  I said yes and he specifically made reference to the Ventoux stage at which point I felt obliged to mention my challenge.  He just looked at me, shook his head and said “no way”. 

And rightly so – Mont Ventoux is a beast of a climb – I know that, all cyclists know that and now, thanks to the popularity of the sport those around me now know this fact.  So I’m overjoyed that the penny may have finally dropped with my friends, family, colleagues and barber, that climbing Mont Ventoux three times in one day is going to be a little tricky  

When I first decided to take on the challenge, I had considered doing a Spring-time reccy to get the lie of the land and climb the Bedoin ascent (the one used in the Tour) as part of my training, but I felt that this would almost be cheating.  The whole point of the challenge from a personal perspective is to get on my bike on 5th September and experience the magic and the purgatory of one of the most iconic climbs in the cycling world.  I have a basket of motivation, Tommy Simpson, Marco Pantani, Richard Verenque and believe it or not, Lance Armstrong – all flawed men but the visions of them climbing Mont Ventoux are engrained in my mind.  Raising money for Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (go to the donations page now!).  Exorcising these cycling demons and more than likely creating more. 

Folks, I am well aware that achieving the three ascents in one day may be outside my physical ability but I am ever hopeful that it’s what’s going on in my mind that will eventually make me succeed.

The wind’s either in your face or you’re having a good day.

The Giant

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Worthwhile read generally but specifically for @Carlingwark #noexcuses

The Time Crunched Cyclist Blog

I have been asked many times what motivates me to write a cycling blog which takes a lot of time out of an already busy life and doesn’t bring in a dime. Good question. The answer is simple: “I get a lot of good feedback from my readers and that keeps me going.” The feedback is always similar: “Keep writing”, “It motivates me”, “I enjoy reading your blog”, “Great stuff”, “Inspiring.”

 In other words, some people take the time to read what I write and they get inspired by it. To put this in perspective here’s an interesting statistic. I recently created a Facebook page for the blog and within five days I had 424 people find the page and “Like” it. More than 23 people produced a link to it or wrote about my blog on their blog. So if something I write helps even one person to live a…

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Good blog on Mont Ventoux and its impact on cycling

The last kilometer/ L'Ultimo chilometro

Approaching the new cycling season, we focus on one of the most famous mountains, and also on the most important stage of TDF 2013: the Mont Ventoux.
(we love this uphill, which also appears in the movie THE LAST KILOMETER, when journalists GIanni Murra evokes the sad and fascinating story of Tom Simpson)

From INRNG ( all texts and photos belong to INRNG, we suggest you to visit their site for other great stuff)

Mont Ventoux Tour de France

As the third part in a series exploring the famous roads of cycling, here is Mont Ventoux in France. The idea with this weekly series is to discover the road and its place in the world, whether its part in cycling’s folklore or to explore what it is like on a normal day without a race.
Having covered Alpe d’Huez and the Ghisallo so far in this series, Mont Ventoux is different. It dominates the…

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Love thy bike

A trip to the South Island of New Zealand is always exciting.  The pace of life always seems slower than the North Island.  It can feel as if you have stepped back in the past where life is less complex and time has no meaning.

We have come south to cycle the Otago Rail Trail, one of New Zealand’s most popular cycle trails.   Pedalling through 150km of Otago’s history and spectacular scenery easily tempted us!

The boyfriend, his beloved mum, and I have jumped on a small compact bus in Queenstown, heading for the fruit bowl town of Cromwell.  The roads spaghetti their way through the dry parched hills.

Clyde - New Zealand

At Cromwell we are collected by the lovely husband and wife team of Shebikeshebikes and are driven to the sleepy town of Clyde.  Their company has arranged bicycle hire and everything else from accommodation, collection and…

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