L2P astriid INTERVIEW
Monday 16th September 2019
Wednesday 25th September, some of us will be setting off on our way to Paris to raise money for Astriid, a charity helping those who have suffered from health issues to get back into employment, a well worthy cause. Our excitement levels are building but enough about us, we wanted to know how others were getting on with the realisation of riding just under 200miles in 3 days. Simon and Amelie kindly took some time out of their preparation and training time to talk to us about why they're doing what they're doing and most importantly, are they bilingual?!!...
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about the upcoming challenge of cycling from London to Paris for Astriid. First question, how’s your French?!
Simon: Marginally better than Del Boy’s but I am Italian and so I blag it by doing that thing where I ‘confuse’ my French and Italian and sound well travelled.
Amelie: Comme ci, comme ça... It’s been a while since I was able to have a conversation in French but it should be enough to get a round of café au lait and croissants ordered!
It’s roughly 190 miles over 3 days. Have you covered this mileage before or will this be the first time hitting numbers like this?
S: Oh no! I am a fitness enthusiast but a total novice cyclist beyond rented bikes on holiday. I have been training with some cyclist lifers who have been sadistically drilling me on the draft on the hilly terrains of Saffron Walden for 50k to 80k rides. I have been muttering the line ‘why am I doing this?’ and ‘get a bike, they said’ to myself, passers by and my bike Cecil since. My Italian family have cycling in their blood and so at every opportunity I am being guided by seasoned heads who regail me with stories of conquering climbs in Sicily with nothing but a wooden bike and a pouch of water.
A: I have been on a few cycling trips over long weekends but never done anything above 100 miles over several days. I am looking forward to the challenge and to see how we will do.
So what’s the one thing you’re most excited about? For us, it’s munching some freshly made croissants (we’re very cultural here!)
S: I keep envisaging a beautiful flat where we are all cruising and the sun is shining over a beautiful piece of French terrain which is very exciting to me but yes, I am giddy at the thought of devouring my weight in pastries and entrecôte steak, because that’s what the pros do right? The biggest thrill for me will be crossing the finish line knowing that the hard work paid off and I have helped Astriid continue their brilliant work.
A: Haha, same! The TFA team are putting such a great effort in to organise this trip and being able to take a sneak peek at the restaurants and cafes en route definitely got my motivation and excitement levels up!
Have you trained much for the ride or is it a case of winging it and hoping the legs don’t fall off?!
S: I have been putting time in because I learned very quickly zig zagging and then bailing off my bike on a delightful hill that you really cannot wing it in cycling, let alone over some 200 miles. If I am not on the bike (which I treat like a limb), I am on the erg, moving heavy things about and/or running.
A: I have done a few day trips on weekends over summer and most recently spent the August bank holiday in Normandy with friends on the bikes. Other than that I am a new regular at the local gym’s spinning class now to up my hill game.. Still hoping that I will feel my legs when we get to Paris though.
What made you take up the challenge to ride for Astriid?
S: Astriid carry out a vital and unique function as a charity – helping the sick get back into work. It seems like such an obvious cause but they pretty much stand alone in bringing such an important and invisible workforce back into the work space. I have seen loved ones battle illness only to find themselves fighting to regain their normal day to day lives. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating to watch and it’s this feeling that motivated me to take up the challenge, spread the word about Astriid and peddle that little bit faster!
A: I got to know Astriid through our employee equality group ‘Abilityforce’ at Salesforce. Through the work of Abilityforce we want to help promote awareness for people with different abilities in the workplace and collaborated on events with Astriid in the past. I didn’t need much convincing: Being able to taking on this challenge and pushing myself to test my limits together with a fun group of people while helping to generate awareness for the charity and the cause they support among my friends, family and colleagues just hit all the right spots.
Can you see yourself doing other endurance challenges after L2P or is it still too early to ask?
S: Absolutely. I am hooked now – I find myself watching weird race analysis videos on Youtube, exploring the realms of cadence theories and losing sleep over whether it is actually necessary to shave one’s legs (because the pros do) . A friend of mine has invited me out to a cycling training camp in Denia, Spain next March which I think would be a fantastic checkpoint to train towards and I would love to enter a race when I am better at holding the wheel and managing consistent pace.
A: Well, funny you should ask. As part of the recent fundraiser in the office for the Astriid L2P I ‘won’ the raffle price of participating in the Prudential 100 in London next year... So watch this space. But I actually try to sign up to one challenge per year to get myself off the sofa and train for something, so that’s 2020 decided early.
Are you a keen cyclist/fitness enthusiast or is this a step into the unknown?
S: I am certainly a fitness freak but cycling really is a different world. After I read up on bike equipment which felt like a discipline in itself, I was shocked at how little my cardiovascular fitness could mean on a bike if my technique was off. I had to guard against complacency as I was telling myself that fitness alone could guide me through the tour which is so ridiculous – pro-rowers have even struggled to make the transition.
A: I started off the cycling mostly leisurely with friends who were more into this on long weekends. We have done some great weekend breaks in the Yorkshire Dales, went around the Isle of Wight and done the London to Brighton route too. I mostly join for the time together outside, being a bit active and getting some fresh air - plus obviously the great meals in the local pubs on those evenings and all the cheese and wine.
Tell us about the bike you will be riding, does it have a nickname?!
S: My bike is a Ribble Carbon (Endurance Disc SL) with upgraded Hunt carbon wheels. It’s a looker and fast – way faster than I need it to be! Ribble are an old Lancashire based manufacturer and so to pay some tribute to my Italian heritage I decided to call the bike Enzo after Mr Ferrari but I have now renamed him (he’s most upset) Cecil the Snake (or Ces) as the free-hub on my new wheels sound like a demented rattle snake hunting you down.
In terms of equipment list, what’s one thing you’re taking you can’t ride without?
S: My tub of ‘anti-friction’ cream. Need I elaborate? (No, no you don't!).
A: Lemon Drizzle Flapjacks, that counts as equipment, right?! (As long one goes my way?!)
Final question, when you turn into the Champs-Elysees and you see the Arc de triomphe in the distance, are you going to pretend it’s Stage 21 of Le Tour and the green jersey is up for grabs, it’s head down all guns blazing…no? Just us then?!
S: In that final piece, I am hitting the drops, lowering myself down onto the cross bar and edging my bike forward. I will graciously look back all victorious and slow down with commiserations for the rest like a true champ, before climbing off my bike and passing out somewhere convenient with the painful realisation that I should not do what the pros do.
A: I will be happy enough if my legs don’t block at the sight of it at that point..
Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you on the road to Paris.