Training, and how to avoid the ‘Walk of Shame’ up Leith Hill (I hope!).


So………just 31 brief days to go before the big day out in London on the Prudential Ride 100.

If this is your first Ride 100 then this blog is aimed at you because I was that Ride 100 virgin this time last year so I think I know how you’re feeling. Probably veering wildly somewhere between occasional bouts of quiet confidence (after a good training ride) and buttock-clenching near panic the rest of the time.


Time to try and help put things into perspective for both of us with nuggets of truth I gleaned from last year: –

  • The prime reason you’re putting yourself through this pain and grief is to raise money for MACS. A brilliant charity that needs our help. When you’re ‘counting gravel’ up your least favourite hill, or you’re still 17 ½ miles from home and the legs and backside are complaining; just have a little think about MACS. Won’t make the pain go away but it’ll give you something else to think about.
  • Stick to your training plan. It’s really tempting at this stage to do those few extra miles or push that little bit too hard in an attempt to ‘catch up’ if you’ve missed a couple of sessions. Best not to take this route since it’s the path to pains and sprains.
  • Get your bike booked in for the last minute check over during the week or so before the event. You should be in ‘rest’ mode in that final week so there’s plenty of time to get the bike sorted, and you’ll feel great knowing the bike is in top nick and ready for the big day.
  • Try and get a couple of big rides in the bag before the London ride. You don’t need to break your body by doing the magic 100; save that for the big day. Do have a go at hitting 80-85 miles on a couple of long days and don’t fret about the speed/timing. Just get your body a bit more used to long days in the saddle.
  • Have a think about how you’re going to tackle the Prudential Ride 100 on the day. 100 miles is a looooong way so have an outline plan for rest/food/wee wee stops and break the ride into manageable ‘chunks’ you can tick off as the day unfolds. Last year, despite my best efforts, I found myself at the top of Newlands Corner having not stopped at all and feeling a bit ropey. Normal service was resumed with the aid of 7 (yes seven!) packets of biscuits, sundry bananas and other goodies. This is NOT the way to do it and I won’t make the same mistake again this year.


Time to share what I’ve been up to with my own training malarkey and it’s a bit of a mixed bag really.

Ages ago, in the bleak midwinter, my wife and I booked a 2 week gentle cycling trip along the River Danube (wife not a cyclist so emphasis on the ‘gentle’ in that phrase). Trouble is, this fantastic holiday (and I can really recommend it) came smack in the middle of my training plan and said plan does not include 25 mile per day spins, copious volumes of Austrian beer, chocolate Sachertorte and Weiner Schnitzel.

So I’m a bit behind the schedule but sticking to my own advice above and quietly clawing my way back on track without hitting the panic button (yet!).


I’ve also made a bit of an important decision on the gearing front. I am of a ‘certain age’ – you know, the one when the Government give you back some spending money they’ve being looking after for 40 years (oddly, without the compound interest though).

I’m in pretty good nick but, truth be told, after 75 miles on the bike the 550 ft climb back to the house for the last 2 miles gets to be a bit testing so……………….I’ve swallowed what little pride I have left and had some properly low gears fitted to the TREK.

With a triple crankset (very much NOT in vogue) and a medium arm Shimano 105 rear mech I can now enjoy the benefits of a low gear of 30 X 32 which suits me just fine and is the best day’s work I’ve done in ages.

Credit to you if you can pound up Leith Hill with a 52 X 18 gear, but if you can’t then have a serious think about your ratios and get them sorted now, rather than wishing you had when you’re halfway up Box Hill.


Right…..time to chase up a couple of people who promised to sponsor me, and then back to training with a 40 miler tomorrow and a 70 miler on Sunday that will probably hurt a bit!

Good luck with all your training and look forward to a brilliant, brilliant day.



How Time Flies!

So, Prudential Ride London newbies, how’s it all coming along?

In 9 short-ish week’s time we’ll all be nervously lining up at the start line for this year’s Ride London event wondering how we all got into this ‘challenging’ environment.

Actually, a brief revisit of the MACS fundraising pages will remind you very quickly how we got here and what we’re all hoping to do to help things along at MACS.


Are you, perhaps, getting a bit twitchy about the ride at this point?

The unmistakeable symptoms of this common complaint (‘Prudentialitis Nervosa’) are typically:-

  • Spending way too much time thinking about training whilst pretending to do other stuff… talking to your partner, watching TV, eating, driving, working and generally living.
  • Worrying about how to fit 600 miles of training into the free days you have left.
  • Considering the likelihood that you won’t get up Leith Hill and Box Hill……not forgetting Newlands Corner and the surprise package hill in Putney just when you thought the pain was all over.
  • Wondering if it’s OK to start the training diet tomorrow rather than today because you fancy a curry tonight.
  • Reflecting that 100 miles is a loooong way on a bike!


Happily, the prescription for this condition is easy and free! Don’t let all this stuff swamp you into submission.

As someone once said…”You can’t eat the whole damn elephant in one sitting, so cut it up into manageable slices”.

  • Devise a simple training plan that fits into the time available and share it with nearest and dearest. If you share that commitment then you will stick to your plans (shame being a strong motivator!)
  • Don’t fancy the hills? Start off by picking a few hills you know you can manage. Then build up to bigger hills one step at a time. Don’t get suckered into straining your bits by pushing too tall a gear (probably the one your bike came with?) and, if things are a bit of a struggle on the bumpy bits then have a chat with your bike shop about changing the cassette to something more sensible – or even a triple chainring. Half way up Leith Hill you might just be really glad you made the grown up decision.
  • Don’t try and bust your best mileage record every time you go out. I found that it’s best to increase the mileage per ride by about 10%. By doing this you’ll stay motivated and won’t blow up on a ride.
  • Oh yes……..probably best to ease up on the curries for a bit! A daunting fact to consider – top climbers reckon on two pounds in body weight for every inch in height! Happily, since I stand 9’7” in my bare feet I meet this criteria perfectly!


Try all or some of these things and you’ll find things settle into a sensible proportion and routine.


And, nearly finally, concentrate on how brilliant you’re going to feel at the end of the Prudential Ride London 100 as you speed down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace.

The huge crowds are cheering you, Leith Hill is beaten, friends and family are waiting to greet your achievement, that medal will soon be round your neck and you’ll feel GREAT!


There’s loads more really informative stuff about preparing for the Prudential Ride London 100 on this guy’s excellent Blog: I can really recommend it.


OK then, Captain Smug! How’s all this going for you then?

In short, not sparklingly well! Lots of my well-intentioned training plans have been properly thrown off course by succumbing to the classic cyclist’s ailment of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my left wrist.

This is making training a bit difficult because I can’t grip the bars properly so that makes the ‘steering’ and ‘cycling’ part of the training a bit tricky!

So I’ll have to keep plodding on (literally) and hope that things improve as the time goes by.


More importantly, the fund raising for MACS is ticking along nicely towards my goal………and that’s the bit that really matters.












Getting ready to do the Prudential Ride London 100 for MACS!

121 days and counting! Sounds like a long time doesn’t it? …………..but no……….events like the Prudential Ride London 100 have a habit of creeping up fast so to help me stay focused, and hopefully help you as well I’m going to write some blogs about training, bikes, gear and advice based on my (limited) experience.

I did the rain-sodden London 100 last year and it was my first ever sportive and would have been my maiden century ride had the weather not intervened. If you’re a walnut-legged elite rider with many sportives under your saddle then skip the next bit and go to the part where I talk about raising money for MACS.

A few uplifting words for the 2015 London 100 first-timers based on how I recall I felt this time last year compared to what I now know having done the ride last August.

  • I was feeling pretty nervous about it all…and perhaps you are too? Everyone says ‘You’ll be fine‘…and, guess what….you will be! It’s the best, most exciting, friendly, well-organized and stunning cycling event you’ll probably ever have the chance to do. Cycling on closed roads is a huge thrill (‘Look at me on the wrong side of the road like Chris Froome!’).
  • Will I be fit enough? Yep…..just follow some sort of structured training plan (the ones on the Prudential Ride London 100 website are good and you can choose between ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’, and ‘Expert’ – this last one won’t be bothering many of us! There are loads of other training plans so find one that looks good for you. I found it best to use the training plan as a guide rather than a rule book…….truth is sometimes you just don’t feel like a 5 minute ‘burn’ and would rather watch the skylarks instead! It’s supposed to be a pleasure as well as a challenge.
  • Will I complete the course in time? Will I get mopped up by the broom wagon? Yes and No in that order. There’s plenty of time to get round and unless you’re really unlucky (or silly) you won’t get swept up by the wagon of shame.
  • Is my bike good enough for the event? Walk into a good bike shop and ask this question and there’s only going to be one outcome isn’t there? I did just this and came out an hour later with a TREK Domane 4.5. For me, it was the right decision (and it’s a luverrly bike) but I’m easily won over by shiny objects and jargon! Probably the MOST important thing you can do is to get a proper bike fitting for whatever bike you plan to use for the ride. Go to the bike shop and get it done and save yourself a world of knee/back/bottom/thigh/neck pain.
  • I’ll write some more as time goes on about bike gear, nutrition, clothes – let me know what you’d like to hear about.

Right…… to the matter in hand! Raising money for MACS. Riding on behalf of a charity like MACS keeps you on the ball and ensures you can’t fall back on the ‘It’s too hot/cold/wet/dry/windy/late/early to get out training’ argument. You can tell I’ve been there can’t you?

We’ll all have our own strategies for raising the money – whining, pleading, bullying and a bit of blackmail too! They all work but I found the trick to success (I somehow raised £1200 for another charity last year) is to START EARLY and KEEP ON ASKING……….have no shame either; just keep pounding away.

I’ve found that most people don’t know what MACS is, does, or stands for and once they understand that MACS supports children born without eyes or with underdeveloped eyes you’re home and dry. It’s a pretty hard-nosed person who won’t spring you a few quid once they understand about MACS.

And finally, for the moment at least, put a few quid in yourself….it’s going to be The Ride of Your Life.

Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to scribble about….climbing big hills? Nutrition? I’m by no means an expert but it might be helpful.