Ride London

Hi Flanders, thank you Mallorca

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Its been a while since my last post. The last post also seems quite apt as this weekend its the 100th edition of Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) and this time tomorrow I will be crossing the channel en-route to Belgium to sign on and prepare for the cobbles and climbs which await us on Saturday.  I will try and post an entry on Saturday evening after 129km of pain but we will see! At least to least I will be able to watch how the cobbled climbs should be done on the Sunday when the men and women pro races take place.

Why? Why indeed cycle and be involved in these mass cycling events. Well first up its to raise vital funds for Blind Veterans UK as these men and women have literally given  everything to keep us the public as safe as possible from those who wish to cause us harm. And on a personal note as a cyclist what an achievement to say, yes I’ve done that!

DSC_0038Whist I will not be participating in my new Blind Veterans UK jersey (the dust and dirt wont come out and it is required for Ride London) I will be flying the flag for my fundraising on the Sunday. I am to get as many photo opportunities as possible to help. After all this weekend is just 129km of the overall 10000km for the year!

As I said earlier there are more challenges to come over the summer months to help me achieve my overall goal.

March, on the bike has been kind, with a good week training on Mallorca. was he first time I had cycled more than 3 days consecutively and I managed to cycle 621km with over 6000m of climbing. The toughest day was day 3, Sa Collabra. 18 minutes to descend and over an hour to climb back but worth every peddle stroke. We were based iMe on col'd Honorn Peurto Pollensa so get to tackle Sa Collabra you first have to climb Lluc. The whole day was 2000m of climbing Sa Collobra was just under half of the days total.

Other climbs covered in the week were Randa and the Coll d’Honor. I can say I was not last to complete a climb and on one occasion I actually was the first up. Ok yes it was a short one at 5.9km with an average gradient of only 6%, but its technical and still has to be climbed.

Overall the week was a fantastic experience and one I cant wait to repeat. The quality of the road surface for one is excellent as well as the weather. next I suppose is one day to complete the 312 which is a ride around the whole island 312km in 14 hours.

The overall total for the year so far is 2941Km so ahead of schedule. Now time to back the bags for the Flemish weather.

You can support Phil reach and exceed his £450 fundraising target for Blind Veterans UK at his just giving page, www.justgiving.com/philcycles10000kmin2016 #philcycles10000kmin2016

 

#philcycles10000kmin2016 for Blind Veterans UK inc RideLondon

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My challenge #philcycles10000kmin2016 is going well as I have now completed just over 1400km in 6 weeks. I am now in a position to announce the charity which I will be raising money for this year. I have decided to raise money for Blind Veterans UK and you can help me achieve my target https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Philcycles10000kmin2016.

I was listening to a story on the radio whilst on the way to a meeting the other week and heard the story of Shaun Stocker who in 2009in the last six days of a tour of Afganistan hit and IED. As a result he lost limbs and vision. However thanks to phenomenal medical procedures he was able to have his sperm frozen to allow him to have children later in life. On Christmas Day his son Theo was born. This story really hit me and this is one of the reasons why I have chosen to work with Blind Veterans UK so they can help people like Shaun who have given so much for this country. 

More on my fundraising effort as well as the challenge update to follow in the coming weeks. 

A new challenge

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2016 could, no most probably will be the year that the world endurance cycle record finally goes as Bruce Berkley attempts to cycle 330km a day to enter the record books. More about his attempt can be read here.

As we approach the end of the year and the time where we reflect upon the past 12 months and having a week of the bike it was a good time for me to reflect on the past year. So far, according to Strava, I have cycled 5668km in 2015, taking in Ride London, Tour of Cambridgeshire and other Sportives, plus a trip to the Yorkshire Dales and Trough of Bowland, as well as officially joining a cycling club.

So as Bruce will be attempting a phenomenal effort to cycle 330km a day and if I could do that in a week it would be a grand effort, I started to think about the distance I could travel in 2016. There are advantages, the extra day will help as its a leap year, and I am completing the same Sportives as major events, plus I will be attending a pre season training camp in Mallorca in March so plenty of opportunities to get the miles in. The question is what to have as a target? If I have cycled nearly 6000km, then I think a conservative, but challenging target should be 10,000km in a year. This would average 192.3km a week which is quite an effort, so I would need to commute to work on the bike as much as possible. Or a more modest 27.39km each day for 365 days, so giving myself one whole day off in the year, well in 2016 anyway. When you put it like that 27.4km a day then yes it sound possible.

So when to start, and what motivational tools to help. Strava has to be a way to keep track of the progress for the year. It does it anyway so doesn’t need any special setting up. Now to set up my rules. All rides would have to be out on the road, not on a trainer or in the gym, otherwise the challenge distance would be too easy. They would also be on my two new bikes as well as this would be a fantastic way to get to use them in the first year of their life. Therefore all rides would need to be recorded in Strava. Then come the motivational part, Stravas challenges. These themselves are hard, but with an overall distance goal in mind for the year might become a little more achievable on a regular basis. If I have to ride 834km each month, which will be a challenge in the cold winter months of January and February, then aiming for the distance challenges in the summer months could be a valuable catch up opportunity if it was required, or spinning this around a chance to get ahead and enjoy the longer summer days.

Why do this in the first place? And who would benefit, apart from me with improved fitness. This brings in another motivational tool and the opportunity with this to raise money for charity. Again I will be raising money for Tennage Cancer Trust, with cycling Ride London, but the 10000km in a year could be an other opportunity to raise some valuable funds for a great charity. This part is still to be finalised and emails need to be send to officially set this up.

So the 2016 challenge has been set. I will make more of an effort to update via the blog about my progress. So this just leaves me to wish you all a happy new year and I hope 2016 us a positive year for you all.

You know you’ve come a long way when…

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For many cycling or any other activity we do to keep fit or for enjoyment of a physical nature, we can normally see improvements over time. There are people out there who just go by the feel of a particular ride or run and those at the other end who analyse every last detail aided by a range of technology measuring, well everything. For me, there is no one better method, and it is personal preference, and I know where I sit along the line, somewhere closer to the analyse everything end than using pure “feel”. 

I know I have improved when I look at my data, but that is not the purpose of this post. As part of my career I have used reflection to improve my own performance (as many others do) and this has been transferred to my cycling. I reflected on the club ride yesterday and the first ever club ride I completed back in March. First yesterday was a higher group, so the first baromitor of any improvement. When I reflect upon the first ride when I was not fit enough and I could not close the gap which had developed, and yesterday when I was leading a large peloton of 17 riders at a much higher speed, is the second. I didn’t think I would be in such a position. Maybe the club secretary was right in his statement I could be in the second group by September! These improvements are backed up with the data (on Strava), but the improved confidence of riding within a group, and leading them is another sign of my improvement as well as others having the belief in my abilities to do the job. 

Confidence. I now have this, and back myself, and I will even try a TT before the end of the season. TT bars have been aquired from a friend (who joined the club ride for the first time yesterday and loved it). I have ridden the TT course so know what to expect but not yet with the TT bars which will, I am sure aid my goal towards a PB. The  think here is just having a go. If I come last, so be it, but for me a TT is just about being able to beat my own time over a period of weeks. 

The improvements I have seen in 2015 will keep me more motivated during the winter months when on the trainer and then come the spring knowing a good winter training programme has followed a good summer, will allow an increase in confidence for the summer of 2016, and pushing those boundaries further. The only problem with this is the requirement for  another new bike which I suppose is never a bad thing! 

This is all good of course for the main event which is just under a month away, Prudential Ride London raising fantastic funds for Teenage Cancer Trust. My link is here if you can help in any way to reach my target. 

Whatever works for you, is what you should use, and enjoy it, unless your a pro cyclist and they get paid for their hurt, however we feel great when we can see ourselves improve and for that I just love Strava! 

Happy riding, enjoy the ride.

Back on the blog and soon the bike.

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Lots of things have happened since my last post, probably too much to mention.

June has not been a good month for my training. Only managed 192km last month which isn’t ideal before I cycle Ride London next month! However when you spend 4 days in hospital with abdominal and then associated heart problems the the cycling takes a back seat. The result of this is I have has a couple of biopsies taken from my bowel for further tests and we are now playing the waiting game. Fingers crossed.

Well as the new month is here, the month of the Tour de France, I can start to think about repairing some of the training as part of my recovery. Loads of commuting to work and the longer weekend rides are the order of the month, as well as trying to catch the tour highlights, the final week of Wimbledon and the final stages of the World Cup!

When I was in hospital I however did get a boost as my blood pressure is coming down as is my resting heart rate. As we know the fitter you are the lower these become as part of the health benefits. Having a resting heart rate in the mid to low 50’s was a nice piece of data to take away. At least I put in some hard work during April which will pay off next month.

So with the recovery in progress, I had my spirits raised further when my Sue Ryder jersey arrived in the post.

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As you can see it looks good and I have to say I am looking forward to getting out there and giving it it’s debut ride. As well as this I received my start time and option to book a car park place. All this has been done and I am nearly ready. Later today with a bit of luck my new bidons should arrive and then can be fitted to the bike.

Am I ready? Well the training could have gone better without illness but I still feel I can perform well. I now have a cadence sensor and HR monitor so I can better manger my effort on the bike. I have to say the cadence sensor has helped me increase the speed slightly without entering the red for effort and wasting energy. Let’s see how we get on next month!

Please support me at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilWheeler5 for a great charity Sue Rider!

How you can help and where your money goes.

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First you can help at my page http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilWheeler5. As you know I’m cycling 100 miles for Sue Ryder in the 2014 Ride London-Surrey 100 on 10th August.

If you read my previous post, or should I say watched the video about the fantastic work Sue Ryder do then you will know that every little bit counts. Here is a more detailed list of how Sue Ryder use the donations they receive.

How your donation can help Sue Ryder

£7.80 provides one hour of incredible care from one of our trained carers.

£15 pays for two stress relieving complementary therapy sessions for someone living with cancer.

£50 covers the cost of a day care/therapy session for somebody with dementia.

£150 enables three family members to each receive three bereavement sessions in one of our hospices.

£570 covers the cost of a highly trained nurse for a week providing care and support for patients and their families.

£1,000 pays for a clinical nurse specialist for a week working in the community offering individual and tailored support to patients in their own homes.

Sue a Ryder has 13 care centres across the UK which offer this incredible service for people. 1in 4, a massive 25% of us will suffer with some form of illness which we will require assistance from organisations like Sue Ryder. Let’s do something about making like better and being pro active rather than reactive.

You can help sue Ryder continue to deliver the incredible service they offer as well as finding vital research to improve the lives of us all by visiting my page http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilWheeler5 just think £15 pays for two stress relieving complementary therapy sessions for someone living with cancer.

I would like to think if I am ever in the situation of needing specialist care the fantastic UK population would help out to make my end a little more comfortable.

Of course when you have sponsored me you can relax and enjoy me suffering with the pain in training and on the day when I aim to complete the RideLondon-Surrey 100 in a decent time. If I can achieve my target it would be the same as providing:

The cost of a day care/therapy session for somebody with dementia.

Three family members to each receive three bereavement sessions in one of our hospices.

One highly trained nurse for a week providing care and support for patients and their families.

Pay to have me suffer and helping people less fortunate than ourselves. Sounds like a good deal.

Thank you for your support.

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilWheeler5

Still time, but how fast will I be?

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As the sun starts to shine and more riding can be done in daylight without the need to wear extra layers, again my thoughts turn to how fast could I complete Ride London 100 in this summer?

The first goal however is to finish and the second raise loads of money for Sue Ryder. You can help by visiting my page here. However being the type of person I am and from reading peoples accounts of last years event I have started to think about the time.

When I found I had a place I thought if I could complete the course around 6.5 hours then this would be a good time. Also something I could achieve with an average speed of just under 25kph (24.7). This is well within the 8.5 hours allowed to complete the course even with a few rest stops thrown in. However my training has got me up to around 28kph which would give me a time around 5 hours 45 mins. I have even calculated 5 hours but this is a stretching 32.2kph and outside my reach. But you have to dream.

Well I suppose I have now set myself another challenge, to complete this in sub 6 hours. I have a history of this as last year I set a target of sub 4 hours for London to Brighton only to be hampered by light failure, but I am sure this will be achieved soon. However this challenge is different. The last hill comes at 109.4km which then leaves a final 50k to get the power down for a grandstand finish on the Mall being cheered on by the large crowd which will no doubt push me on. London to Brighton has the big hill at the end which drains your energy and then you have no time to recover before the finish.

Well it looks like the training will continue to be hard to ensure I build the power, strength and aerobic ability to allow me to travel faster and further for the same amount of input. Time to update the training plan.

When you have been cycling for about 3 months then you will have the basic strength to build upon to complete your sportive or event ride. I have built this up with commuting to and from work plus the weekend longer rides. Now it is time to step up the training to improve my ability. I have found some longer routes to commute to increase the distance cycled each week, which will help, but I am going to start using the normal commute to work as shorter time trial rides and for interval training. In theory this will improve my overall moving time (average speed) to allow me to achieve the magic sub 6 hours. Then the weekend rides are for the social aspect as well as getting the time in the saddle completed. I will target certain segments on Strava and use these as markers on my progress. Hopefully come the end of June I will have seen some improvement in my general average speeds on rides and then the plan would be to keep these up on the longer rides come the weekend.

Let’s see how I get on.

Don’t forget to…build your strength and cross train.

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In my preparation for the 2nd RideLondon 100 in August I have obviously been putting in the kilometres to shed some weight, and as spring turns into summer then my rides will get longer. This is great and I am starting to see the benefits on and off the bike.

If it was always plain sailing. Hang on when did sailing come into this, if it was all plain cycling is more to the point, even though it may not sound as good. The fact is that with my extending riding, a few niggles have started to appear. A annoying pain from the neck and shoulders moves down my arm. I can get rid of this with sitting up and moving my head etc, but there is a more serious reason why this pain is here, well possibly and probably two.
A bad posture when riding and potentially my upper body not being “bike fit”

Taking these in turn, starting with a poor posture, or riding technique if you will can be a difficult aspect of road cycling to iron out ones self. Unless you are able to ride with a reflection of your position on the bike you will need to get someone to check out your position when riding. When I do this I bye I will have a hunched back. If so this will be the cause of some of the pain and certainly a case of poor posture. I must remember to keep the back straight, relax and lower my shoulders which can be achieved by not gripping the life of the handlebars. This will be the main focus in my mind when I commute in the morning, as well as avoiding the other road users. I probably need to remind myself to ride with my neck out and not disappearing into my shoulders like a turtle.

This morning in the gym I started work on the second possible cause. When your body completes the same type of training over a period of time other muscles may not get the required workout they need to be strong enough to help out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the gym and worked on some strength work. Seated row, pull down, sit ups and the plank have now been added to my Monday workout, as I am calling it, to build the strength in my back and core, again with the aim to reduce the pain of recent rides. I will find out in a few weeks, hopefully stronger.

There is another option. Since I have had the bike, which is nearly a year now, I have changed shape. I have lost some weight and maybe the set up which I had last year needs some slight adjustment. I was fitted to the bike when I purchased it, so I am sure I won’t be far out, but maybe the seat isn’t at exactly the right height or position or there are some other small problems. The solution is another bike fit. I will try the other options first and if I get no joy here then I will have another fitting.

Oh the joys of cycling and training to be ready for the biggest cycling day of my life come August. But it’ll be worth it, every pedal stroke of the way!

Why I commute by bike.

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I am lucky in the sense that I work close to where I live and this gives three viable options to get to work. If I am meeting friends I can hop on the train and take the 30 minutes journey and feel sorry for the people who have to travel into London on a daily basis. Then there is the car, which I have to use when transporting anything big to/from work and more importantly to sheet my shirts in for the third and best option the cycle.

In a strait line it is a nice 20 km commute so 40km in a day is a great way to lose the excess weight. With access to a warm shower when I arrive I can organise my time to have a relaxing shower and be ready for the days work. Then it’s a nice commute home knowing I’ve done my exercise.

The great option is now I have been getting quicker I can now extend the commute to and from work and have a number of ways in and out which helps split up the boring same old ride day in day out. As I am training for Ride London later in the year the extra kilometres covered are all very useful in ensuring the training gets done and I am in the best shape possible come August. On a side issue my fundraising page for Ride London can be found here please leave a small donation as this will help the great work Sue Ryder Care do.

The best part of being a cycling commuter is I have improved my fitness and in the process saved money on fuel costs. I hope my insurance will benefit from not driving as many miles when the renewal comes up, but we will see!
As previously mentioned the commute is helping with the training at the moment which certainly helps when you commute 3-4 times a week which is where I hope to get to over the coming weeks. I have days when I feel good and depending upon the road conditions and traffic I am able to get a shift on and have a go at some of the segments on Strava, and other times I just fancy a nice present cycle to work. I am always on the look out for different routes to take, one to break up the commute plus the opportunity to get to see parts of the local area which you can’t when your driving past at 30 mph.

There are some dislikes which every cyclist has, mine being the slippery road conditions when it has been raining, flat tyres are annoying but, reaching out to touch the wooden kitchen table my Gatorskins have done their job and I’ve not had one yet. You watch on the commute next week I’ll be half way with a big puncture. Just my luck! I don’t mind the cold, you can wrap up against that with the correct clothing, and riding in the sun is just lovely, although don’t forget your sun cream as you could easily burn in the sun, which won’t be comfortable for riding.

So what do you need to get started, my tips!
A decent bike would help
Check out your equipment regularly and if your new to cycling then either search out your local bike shop or learn the basis so you can maintain your bike.
Helmet and lights along with a good pair of cycling shorts are ideal for the commute, especially in the mornings when the natural light isn’t at its best.
Invest in a decent lock to ensure you can keep your pride and joy safe. Thankfully I work in a secure site but my lock is a nice heavy duty one which makes a potential their think twice. Spend more than you think you need especially if you are intending to leave your bike at the railway station. The stronger the better.

And my last tip is join Strava! Just so you can keep track of your rides and progress. It’s great fun sharing your rides with other like minded people and seeing how you shape up. You’ll then get the bug, which acts a motivational tool to keep going. The benefits are a fitter you and potentially one which has a new more pounds (sterling) in your pocket (obviously if not in the UK then more of your own currency).

What is stopping you. Go out and make 2104 your year to commute by by lice and feel the health benefits in the process.

Training update and allowing my mind to drift into the future…. The possibilities?????

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It’s going well, very well so far. I might only be in the second week of my training plan but cycling to and from work with a ride on a Sunday is allowing me to hit the numbers for the early weeks. I am also starting to feel the strength come back to my legs I had last year so all is good, especially as the weight is finally starting to fall off as my body adjusts to its new regime.

I have to say I am enjoying the training too. I think this is a vital way to ensure I maintain the levels I will be required to do for August. It Is easy to training when you enjoy putting in the hours. I have to say using the bike as part of the commute to work really helps as the training for these days is complete with me just getting to work and then home again later in the day.

I still need to work on some items and I will share one of these with you. Whilst I fuel my body before a ride in the form of breakfast, but more importantly the food the previous day, I still send to work out what it the best food to eat whilst on the bike. I am a fan of the high 5 gels as they taste nice and come with the caffeine option of your wish, which from what I read are very useful towards the end of a ride.

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I also love the high 5 tabs which you drop into your water bidons as these have the electrolytes which need to be replaced when cycling.

The reason I still need to practice which fuel works do me is last year I think I might have overdone the gel consumption during the London to Brighton night ride. Let’s say I was more than wide awake for the ride and the whole day following the ride and only started to feel slightly tired when I finally got home that evening. I also don’t like fig rolls which are a good source of fuel when cycling. Looks like it’s jelly babies or Haribo for the sugar content or Jaffa Cakes, but it’s the other eagerly types I need to practice with. Well I am going to have plenty of opportunities to get the right mix of fuels for me. We are all individual but I will post what works for me if and when I find out.

I think I could be even more hooked by the bike and cycling is starting to be the main choice of transport, at least in the head, even though it might not be the best option. An example of this is not wanting to reserve something in the well known catalog store here in the UK (the red and blue one) as I can’t collect in store as I want to cycle to work. The item will just have to wait until the day when I use the car again. It was only a bed anyway, it can wait.

If I am going to be regularly cycling 150-250km per month when the training ramps up in the near future, what happens when the events are completed? All this work for 2014 and ride London gets me in hopefully fantastic shape but then what? This has got my mind working, well drifting again. I may need some time off from the charity bike rides, and focus a bit more on the personal challenge. I like the idea of cycling over a number of days from locations within the UK to start, but then entering Europe. The latter will certainly be 2015 at the earliest due to the planning involved for such a journey.

I suppose I should look at completing one of the London to (enter a European capital here) events before I turn 40, which means I have three years left to plan and then execute my plan, however lose they are at the time of writing this post. Whatever the far fetched ideas I have for 2015 and beyond I suppose I better return to the matter of 2104 and very much the present plan and ensuring I am ready for RideLondon come August. Right in that case it’s off to bed to get the legs ready for the cycle to work in the morning.

Thank you for reading.