If you are reading this, you have either signed up or contemplating taking on the challenge known as 'The One' although most of these tips can be applied to most rides. Version 2.0 has been stepped up from the inaugural ride to 65 miles, 15 hills, 7000ft. With the support of @UKCycleChat and @DirtyWknd, this is supposed to be a supportive and fun ride but we all know the inner animal in us might put in a breakaway effort on one of the hills somewhere! This short post (I don't do many short ones although it may turn out to be a long one!) is to give you some prep' and advice so you can tackle this beast of a ride with the level of preparation which would make the cub scouts look like Southern Trains (never been on one of their trains but I've heard stories!).
So I hope you have had a chance in the past few weeks to get some hilly rides in as spotting a flat section in this route is like trying to find one of the new £5 plastic notes with the AA code on! So here's some tips from us at wlc which you might find helpful:
Carb it Up!
Those who know about carbo loading won't need to read this but short story is fill yourself up with carbohydrates a couple of days before the ride. Pro's would starve themselves of carbs way before this but we're not World Tour Level here so get some pasta for the dinners before the day of the ride. For breakfast, I love a bit of honey on toast (brown bread) and adding a banana on top of that. I try to stay away from tea or any other hot stimulant beverages as I get a bad sugar come down (don't have sugar then I hear you say, I'm sorry I can't do that, tastes bland otherwise!).
On my recon ride last week, the autumn weather has turned the roads very gritty and grimey which means your tyres and especially your brakes are going to have a busy day. Make sure your brake pads are in a decent condition as there will be some descents which will require some heavy pulling on the levers. A couple times last week I felt my back wheel shift on the descents so just have a check on your tyres to make sure they are going to give you grip and confidence in the corners. A rear light might also come in handy here too, I will be checking to make sure mine stills works from last year but seeing the other riders last week definitely gave you more visual presence through the trees.
I'm not going to get into the whole argument of bright clothing and being seen here but quite a few of the back country lanes can be quite dark so I will personally be wearing something reflective or bright on me so I am seen. Seeing as well being seen is as crucial. I had dark tinted shades last week which I had to take off a few times as the visibility was poor so I definitely recommend lightly tinted shades as the trees can block out most if not all sunlight. These fresh mornings too are beginning to play havoc with our dress sense so base layers or a long sleeve jersey is definitely recommended. I love my overshoes/oversocks and they do help with any thermal issues with the little piggys (feet!). Length of mitts will be your choice, the descents can raise the air temperature considerably so if you can handle those pockets of cold air, you should be fine with short finger mitts.
It is worth knowing the hills. Its obviously the best way to know what you're in for. But be not afraid, the majority of the hills are on the site and the route itself is broken down so you know what to expect on each 10 mile section. There will be times where the roads will turn into some bone shaking (descent of Broomehall) but that has been levelled out with some ultra smooth roads such as Beech Avenue. If you need to download the route, you can from here or visit the strava page. But don't worry too much, there's plenty of us on the day to give you the heads up on sections.
Make yourself known. We are all human. We all speak or communicate in some way. Don't like talking? Text us then! Everyone is in the same boat regardless of ability so take the time before the starting time (8.30am sharp by the way, I'm looking your Papiya if you're coming along!) to get to know people. It will end up we will be buddying up with someone up the hills with similar ability but do take the opportunity on an easy climb to drop back, offer some encouragement and banter because that's what got us all through v1.0! If you don't know how to make friends, make some homemade flapjacks, that will get them flocking!
2 bidons are a must! We have 750ml versions here so we can keep going for longer. My personal recommendation is to have 2 different flavours, I found that its good for morale if I am drinking a different flavour after my first bottle. Hydration is as key as eating, once you sweat, you're playing catch up with your body so getting a headstart is the biggest advantage to a decent ride. That doesn't mean you gulping down a litre of water after each hill, you'll just be bloated and wanting to wee. I aim for every 10 minutes on a normal ride but for this, just keep yourself hydrated after each climb. Gels are handy but for these type of rides you're going to want something a bit more slow burning. Flapjacks are a winner for me, @RouteSurreyUK likes his bananas and I've seen @the_fitadvisor munch down a sandwich. We all know what works best for us but gels will only get you so far so use them as stop gaps if you need a 'pick me up'. There are 3 scheduled stops: Box Hill (mile 12), Allez Nutrition (mile 47) and Peaslake (mile 59). The gap between Box and Allez Nutrition will be where you need to be prepared with your nutrition as there's not really anywhere else to stop along the route. If you're low on gels or nutrition, make a deal with someone for a loan just as long as it doesn't involve 300% APR repayments (we take no responsibility of any financial agreements made along this ride!).
We've already mentioned recon but whether you know the hills or not, getting a feel for the weather and surface of the road is crucial. Roads can become completely different beasts in the wet so finding a safe riding line is the way forward (or down!). If you find yourself rolling down to a sharp bend or an unfamiliar turn, break early get yourself down to a speed you feel safe at, quick glance over the shoulder to make sure no other riders or cars are about to overtake you and drift into the middle of the lane. At least way you are taking control of the road (suggested by our own government on narrow roads or junctions) and it will give you more room and time to correct any maneuvers. Give yourself some space on the descents between each other too, you don't want to burn the brakes out because you're pulling at them every few seconds as you can catch up with the rider in front. When going uphill, if its steep and you're beginning to push squares, if its safe to do so, start to weave across and back again, this will take the edge off the gradient. Obviously, if there's a car up your bum, you're going to have grit your teeth and get yourself up!
The route is available to download from the site and is also on strava (links above) so everyone theoretically should have the route available but if you do get lost or left behind, we will always regroup at the top of the hill. If for some reason, you do get lost or no one is there, aim to meet at the next climb. My own number will be available on the day but there will be very little chance of people being left behind as it is a no drop policy. Obviously there will be some whippets (Patrick?! Nick?! David?!) but everyone has each others back.
Those who are meeting at the pub The Queens Head opposite our first climb Staple Lane will love the knowing that this is where a celebration pint will be waiting (buy your own, I'm a teacher, not a CEO!). If you need to shoot home, no worries, well done and thanks for coming! Version 3.0 will be out next year! If you have any tips for others (especially nutrition tips!) please do share on social media or on the day, you never know who might value a different piece of advice!
Enjoy the ride!
'When my legs hurt, I say: “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!'