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Pedal Power by Nick Veasey
  • Writer's pictureAnnette Culshaw

Holiday or Training??

Updated: Aug 1, 2018

As I write this blog we have 86 days to go before we start the Challenge. So, we better be sure we know what we are doing!

We are currently on the Isle of Wight, where we used to live until 16 years ago. Why are we here?

Well, we love the Island and it does have a wonderful landscape for cycling, with undulating roads, many of which are virtually traffic free. Lovely scenery, plenty of choice of lovely beaches and some lovely old pubs. We also have family here and wherever I go on the Island I can recall Nick and Paul, his brother and their friends, on their mountain bikes - there cannot be many yards, feet or metres that they have not covered. Thirty years ago I joined them and came to love the off road aspects of cycling on the Island. It is easy to see why it is called Bicycle Island.

So, we have very mixed feelings as to whether we are on holiday or we are here to train!

Beach or Bike?

Let me go back a stage!

In November last year we booked a lovely thatched cottage in Brighstone where we would base ourselves for two weeks. We booked it for the two weeks commencing 2nd June 2018. BUT, being me, I transcribed it in the diary to the 9th June 2018. So, on the 1st June I was receiving emails from the booking agent hoping that I enjoy my holiday starting tomorrow!!! No, no, our holiday starts next week - it must be next week because Annette has her hair appointment booked for the Friday 8th June!

Checking the original booking ………….. revealed that my diary entry was a week late - I.e., we start our booking tomorrow! OMG it is 5pm the 1st June and our ‘unofficial’ holiday starts tomorrow - what about the ferry booking, what about packing, what about checking the bikes are running ok, etc., etc., On my part absolute PANIC, how could I have got it so wrong?

Anyway, it all turned out ok - ferry changed, bags packed (both of us - not just mine). I checked AA Roadwatch before we departed on Saturday morning (the 2nd, not the 9th!) and discovered that the M25 was in a state of mayhem with blockages virtually throughout our route, Oh b****r, what else can go wrong? Well nothing actually, by the time we departed and arrived on the M25 it was clear and probably our best trip on the M25 followed!

We arrived in glorious sunshine on the Island and found our delightful cottage, thatched roof and all! I think by now I am forgiven for getting the date wrong.

On our first day on the Island we had arranged to have a ride with our friends Alex and Kev, they hired electric bikes and we had a terrific day together completing 31 miles from Yarmouth to Chale Green and return, including the climbs up Afton Down and Compton Down. Great company, great ride and terrific food together - lovely day to remember! It was their first time on an eBike and they loved it. The four of us had ear to ear smiles all day.

Annette, Bob and friends Alex and Kev at Chale Green Cafe
Alex, Kev and us enjoying a break at Chale Green Cafe

But I still haven’t dealt with the point about Training or Holiday. Day one felt like a holiday being with our friends. What about day two onwards? Well according to Wikipedia definition of training

Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.

Well I guess we need to develop a range of skills and competencies to complete our Challenge in 86 days time - so much for a holiday! We need to work hard to be able to spend long days in the saddle (ouch!) and dealing with riding up difficult hills (double ouch) So… training it is!

Our normal rides around East Kent, often around 45/48 miles, we experience few hills of any significance. We have read many books detailing experiences of completing the LEJOG. ALL say that the hills of Cornwall and Devon are the worst of the whole ride - many talk about the PAIN of completing the days! OMG - we certainly need to get some experience of hill climbing (on a bike that is)

So, the Isle of Wight offers a number of hills and an undulating road structure - perfect! The hills are not as severe as in Devon, or indeed over Shap, but repeated climbs up these hills will surely help build us up physically and help equip us for Devon.

Our first six days of rides have achieved 9,381 feet of climbing, 194 miles and 21 hours in the saddle. Our planning for the first six days of riding on our route through Cornwall and Devon is around 196 miles (Lands End to Bridgewater - 2 Counties completed!) so we are reasonably on target with almost three months to go! We will continue to spend our time here on the Island completing as many of the bigger hills as frequently as possible to build up our stamina and climbing abilities. We already feel much stronger than when we arrived here so the training is working!

Annette & Bob on a training run
Annette & Bob on a training run

We have another week to go so it will be interesting to see how we feel after 10/12 days in the saddle! Watch this space!

I cannot finish this Blog without recalling a funny. Annette goes to the toilet, at one of our stops for a cup of tea. She comes back to me laughing so strongly she could hardly speak - eventually she explains that she stood there trying to dry her hands under the hot air blower and couldn’t understand why her hands were not drying - she then suddenly discovered that she was stood with her hands beneath the paper towel dispenser!!

I guess she was tired… all these hills you know. She is now saying that she wants to go home for a holday!


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