When organising your riding calendar, it's always good to mix up your rides with some new attempts and experiences. You can't plan your year with just riding in mind. Setting a goal such as a mileage target, or like Nick 'The Beast' Boyle' trying to smash every Strava challenge or if it's simply something common as in losing weight, it will aid that motivation for when the skies are grey or you'd rather crack open a Guinness than do hill reps with Sam (@builtbysam) - well that's what we tell him! We would like to share what we aim to conquer this year and how we are going about doing it!
Dulux Trade London Revolution 13th-14th May
Being a Londoner, an opportunity to take in the city and the hills just outside the m25 was too good to miss. We have in the past applied for the RideLondon100 (we actually had a place for the inaugural ride but gave it up for 2 weeks in Mexico - who wouldn't?!). Day one begins at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre and cuts straight through the heart of the capital before hitting the green fields of Kent. A few lumps in this region including a gentle climb of Laylhams Road before hitting the North approach of Titsey Hill (we are thankful that this is the easier ascent of the 2 ways up of Titsey!). We were privileged a few weeks ago to join @DirtyWknd on their Kent outing and some of the scenery in these parts are just a beautiful reminder of what is outside our city walls. This route then cross borders into Surrey and although it misses out the highest point in South East England in Leith Hill, turning right at Ewhurst presents us with the tough of climb of Pitch Hill (we'll be tempted to hit the pub halfway up will try not to be distracted by the gorgeous smell of roast beef, goose fat roast potatoes, beef dripped yorkshire puddings....sod it, I'm going in!). The descent of Houndhouse can be a little rough and it's not long till Combe hits us in the face. It's the hairpin which you have to look out for! The descent down Staple can be fun and the route continues on into Ottershaw and eventually Virginia Water. This section might sap the legs a little especially after a long day riding but the end is in sight for Day 1 as the ride rests as basecamp for the night over camping. Now we haven't camped since cub scouts so we do hope the tents have moved on since the days of Circus sized tent poles and pegs that would hold down a tank! Entertainment and food is put on and we are hoping to mingle and not have too many beers as Day 2 steps it up another gear.
Day 2 starts with a gentle rollout into the back lanes of Berkshire before flying through Marlow onto your first climb of the Chilterns. Chapel Lane is a gradual climb but this whole area is littered with ridges and steep ascents on every turn. Now we explored the Chilterns last year thanks to the guidance of Mike @torgey. This area is similar to Kent, full of gorgeous English countryside and beautiful valleys but there are some tough little climbs up this way so we are going to make sure we carb' up at breakfast. It's lumpy to say the least in this area and the most hardest hill of the day will come in the form of Kop Hill. We have descended this hill after we took on it's sister of Whiteleaf and it just looks horrible, we hope there's a feed station and masseuse available before this climb, us and others might need it! Fun ain't over yet, there's a couple of new hills we haven't tackled before which look a little daunting. The route than starts to bear East again following the North of London on the opposite side of the m25. The elevation graph still looks undulating and with nearly 2 days of hard riding, I'll be relying on the power of the quads and calves (I don't think too much of myself do I?!) to get us through the last section before heading back down towards the finish line at the athletics centre.
It's probably the combination of mileage and the type of climbing which worries us. We know we've got the legs for the route but the hills are not gentle, some have steep gradients so power to weight ratio will be key here. We have been cutting out bread (we easily could go through a loaf a week plus crumpets at the weekend!) but we have 10 days in New York coming up which will be a big test as it's literally the fat food capital of the world and burgers are our kryptonite! If you're interested in signing up, there are only limited places now available so let us know if you need a riding buddy because we will be happy to tag along with anyone!
'The One v3.0' Saturday 27th May
Well those who have followed our journey now will have come across 'The One' series. It all started out with 13 hills and we thought that was tough enough. The magnificent 8 on that day who conquered v1.0 wanted more so 8 turned into 25 taking on v2.0. 15 hills this time and we were struggling at the end. We even had a run in with an escaped herd of sheep but everyone loved the 'friendly' competitiveness although I still haven't fully forgiven Ali for leaving me a third of the way through even after I waited for him at the start as the rest rolled on. So v3.0 has been stepped up another level into serious A game territory. This version carries 19 ascents including Barhatch and Whitedown, 2 of the steepest climbs in the Surrey Hills. We currently have a sign up page on our Strava club so if you're feeling keen and want the privilege to be known as a member of 'The One' series, join us @DirtyWknd and a few others who want to see this legacy evolve even further.
Gran Fondo Northern Ireland Sunday 4th June
This is something we've had on our bucket list for a long time and it means a lot more to us this year as this route passes through Hilltown, the town Mrs notinthepeloton were married in last year and also the wife's hometown of Rathfriland. So this event really is a second home to us. We have also climbed it's main ascent in the form of Spelga Dam. A picturesque but steep climb into the Mourne Mountains with a view to match looking back to the South. We have managed to persuade Ali to join us for this adventure (if anyone has seen him?!) but we have some logistics to look into. Accommodation is covered as the sister-in-law has kindly offered to put us up for the weekend but getting over there is more expensive than first realised. Flying is too much of a risk with the bikes and getting hold of a bike box is not easy or cheap. So we are planning to hire a mini van (which turns out to be the cheapest expenditure!) and drive to Stranraer to catch a short ferry over to Belfast then stay our in laws an hour just outside the city. The drive up to Scotland is the longest part but sharing the drive might be the best plan if we can tolerate each other for 9 hours! Either way, a sportive abroad (Northern Ireland counts right?!) is something we've both wanted to do and knowing what the Mournes are like and on closed roads, we can not wait for this one!
Plan: Ride Europe
Well this idea is still in the brain because it all depends on the wife. We might have a week away from her (it's not some marriage counselling thing, only been married 8 months!) so we thought riding somewhere to Europe would be a great adventure and the word Flanders has been thrown around! Belgium is arguably the place to go to fully understand how cycling can dominate a country's interest. You only have to watch some of the Spring Classics to see how crazy the fans get and we haven't even mentioned the ale or chocolate?! Might go there sooner! So we need to do some research but according to google maps, it's only 212 miles to the Koppenburg according to google maps and we've noticed Roubaix is not far either, what a great ride this would be!
So to conquer all this, it means a lot of miles but appropriate miles. No point in hitting flat rides or doing circuits around Hillingdon, most of these climbs in these planned rides feature short steep climbs so the Surrey, Kent and Chiltern hills will get a visit or two. More miles means also more maintenance. We have been tutoring ourselves with the help of the Haynes manual combined with some guidance from Chris and Mr B who are both very trustworthy and reliable 'mechanics'. Love the guys at Moores but we are at the stage now where we should be taking responsibility for our own repairs. How handy would it be if you knew how to adjust the cable tension properly or tune the gears at the road side so that your ride is not ruined by that bloody chain rubbing noise?!
Well this is what lies in front of us and although a part of our mind is wondering what we were drinking when we planned this, if every ride is conquered and smashed, 2017 will be a year to remember and look back on. Share your rides through the usual social media channels and in the mean time, if you see Ali, tell him we are worried about him, we've got some flyers ready to give out asking for information and we are in talks with a few milk companies about putting his face on the site of the cartons. Is there a reward?!....how about some left over Sri Lanka rupees from our honeymoon last year?!
“Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to”