Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Life & London

Summer is a peculiar time of year for me. It's by a long shot the busiest period of the year for business which generally means I'm shorter on free time, it's time when there's often plenty of socialising to be done, a time when opportunities for all day adventures on my bike pop up, and for the last couple of years, it's also been a time where Tom is often away doing *something* or other with the Army. But the extra hours of daylight, the haze of barbecue smoke hanging over the laughter in my garden on a Saturday night, the long work days that leave me invigorated and the the never fading tan lines my cycle jerseys give me.... they leave me brimming with ideas and things to say, it's just that it seems I never quite have enough time to sit down and put fingers to keys and get it up here. And that's ok, because my blog is my hobby, but I also miss my hobby when so many other things come along- yes I do want to have my cake AND eat it, and Instagram it, and enjoy it in a world class location.

So what's all that got to do with London? Well last weekend, I took a moment to appreciate just how much I love living in London. Not in the sense of look at this crazy bar, and we also went to a museum and then we went to the theatre and we even made it to afternoon tea all on the same day, but in a 'we could do pretty much anything you can think of today' kind of a way. So in celebration of my moment 'Love London' moment... here's 3 awesome things you can do, because London.

1. Enjoy the view... 

There are worse summer Sunday view to have... #hmsbelfast #cityoflondin #londonlife #londonliving #home #lblogger

I love the City of London- having lived in the East End it used to be a bit my 'local' lots of things, these days I just really love taking a second to enjoy the sheer scale and the decades of changing Sky Line. FYI, that's HMS Belfast creeping in on the left hand side of the picture and there are scores of bars and cafes with a view across the Thames whilst taking a break.

2. Eat.... Dangling Above The Southbank... 

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For real. You can have a meal cooked for you by a world class chef, all whilst dangling 25m above the Southbank... Last year Tom & I had breakfast cooked by Martin Morales and his team as part of the 14 day pop-up. It's run by Events in the Sky, more info on the latest dates HERE

3. Take part in pretty much any sport going... 

I still can't quite believe my 100km challenge is run and it's only 3 days until my birthday AND I knocked 5 mins off my 10k time yesterday. Last running spam (until track night tomorrow), but for now- look at my fly! #runningblogger #thisgirlcanrunning #

I like to run, and to cycle, but there's virtually no limit to the sports on offer in London- Horse riding in a park, water sports at Lee Valley, Olympic level facilities in Stratford, running closed roads past major landmarks, finishing a cycle race outside a the home of royalty, extreme trampolining...

4. Leave London 

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Stay with me here... I can be at Stansted in under an hour. There are 4 other airports that are technically in London as well as Luton just outside.. and that's without the Eurostar. Access to international travel has allowed me to see Vietnam, Paris, Las Vegas and more in the last 2 years, with trips to India, Croatia and Spain all in the planning stages.

And it's not just international travel. In the last 12 months, we have:

LeavingLondon

Been to Royal Ascot for Race Day, spent an afternoon at Dreamland in Margate (the renovated amusement park, it was a blast), eaten ice cream on the seafront in Southend. Twice. Watched lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots, jaguars and reindeer at Paradise Wildlife Park (as well as the tiger cubs at London Zoo). All of which are less than 2 hours on the train from major London stations.

I'm under no illusion that London and Londoners do not enjoy a pleasant reputation for many who live outside of the city, but there are also lots of things to celebrate and I count myself as incredibly lucky to enjoy some of the things that London affords us- and sometimes it's as simple as enjoying the view on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

LondonBridge HMS Belfast

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ride London 100: My Photo Diary




Just in case you've missed the myriad of posts and social media posts, I took to the closed roads of London and Surrey on Sunday to take part in Ride 100 - a 100 mile cycle taking in some of the major London landmarks and the surrey hills heading out as far as Leatherhead before a grand finish on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. I was extremely fortunate to be offered my place by Skoda who are sponsors of the Ride London weekend- there's a big free for all central London cycle, a women's pro race- The Classique, a men's pro race- The Classic and a 46 mile ride amongst other things.

I've talked about my training over the last couple of months, last week I posted a carb loading food diary and now it's time for my photo diary from the day itself, because I only bloody well went and did it! I didn't quite make 100 miles due to a route diversion after an accident, but 92 miles is still the furthest I've ever ridden, and climbs like Newlands Corner and Box Hill are iconic. So... here's my Ride London experience in pictures...

Friday 29th July

Today, last week, last month, last year. 12 months has changed so much for me. #Ride100 I am coming for you and with massive thanks to the amazing people at @skoda_uk & @skodacycling with whom it is my pleasure and privilege to work with and the equally a

Like the London Marathon and other large sports events (especially in the USA apparently), Ride 100 participants have to go to an expo to collect their rider numbers and final instructions. There's also stands from sponsors and brands, the opportunity to buy kit and products. I managed to get away from work a bit earlier than expected so headed to the ExCel centre on Friday afternoon. It also made me think back on the last 12 months- from my first time running a whole 10km on the bottom right, Revisiting a hellish ride from a couple of years ago and having a blast a couple of weeks back, and just a week before, choosing to and enjoying running 5 miles, just because I can and because being active is enjoyable.

We've been on the Arcelor Mittal Slide (incredible, do it!), we've scoffed steak and chips and now I'm off home to paint some #ride100 nails, make pre-race pizza and have an early night because that's my wake up call for tomorrow! #earlydoors #ride100

On Saturday I took refuge in a more relaxed day... well... sort of. Tom & went to the Arcelor Mittal tower at the Olympic Park (the big red twisted tower thing) to go down the slide that is currently winding its way from top to bottom! It was a lot of fun, but definitely time to kick back for the rest of the afternoon as I realised just how early my alarm would need to be set! Early alarm is EARLY!

Rock 'n' roll for tomorrow! My jersey might at I ally be heavier than my bike with gel & flapjack. It's been my absolute pleasure and privilege to work with @skodacycling & @alturacycling on my #ride100 journey. I never thought I would or could ever be en

With aforementioned early start, I implemented proper prior planning in the hope of preventing piss poor performance and made sure my rider number was all filled out and properly attached and filled my jersey pockets with an selection of flapjacks, energy gels and hydration tabs, as well as pulling the rest of my kit together. I got wear my very snazzy (and very much race fit- hello BOOBS) Skoda jersey but the very generous people from Altura Cycling provided me with some other beautiful kit that I'll be talking about a bit more next week. But seriously, check out the ProGel mitts....

All the green goodness in from @alturacycling today! Can't wait to get some of these beauties out on the road! #cyclingblogger #fitnessblogger #ride100
ALL THE GOODIES!

And then.... it was Ride100 Day. I pulled my kit on, a little bleary eyed and made my way from our home in North London to the Lee Valley VeloPark (the Velodrom that hosted the 2012 Olympic events...) to fuel up with coffee and carbs...

0545

When you're up before the sun but it's ok because it's #ride100 day and there's coffee #teamskoda #skodacycling #leevalleyvelopark #alturacycling


0700

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Ready to roll, I headed out to my starting area to be funnelled towards the start...

0730

Headed to the start of my wave... #letsdothis #alturacycling #skodacycling #teamskoda #ride100

Slowly but surely, getting to the line.... It's a long old process getting tens of thousands of riders out on the road!

From the start line... #ride100 #teamskoda #skodacycling #alturacycling currently stuck at mile 38 waiting for an accident to clear. So far... So good!

10:45

I finally was able to make my way through London- we passed through Canary Wharf and South London towards Richmond, through Richmond Park and into Surrey. It was all going rather well- those first 20-30 miles are filled with incredible sights like going the wrong way up the middle lane of the A12 and passing by some major landmarks... and then we got a bit stuck. I reached a drinks station at mile 38 to find hundreds of cyclists at a stand still. At first I thought it might just be people struggling to get through narrower roads in a small Surrey Village, but rumours started to circulate about an accident, diversions and a lengthy wait with a lot of walking.

Ride100 crash Pyford.jpg-large
Photo Credit

1220 ish

Back on the move! Subject to a diversion which meant I didn't get to attempt Leith Hill, one of 3 major climbs on the route.

1350

Box Hill! I'm so sad I didn't get a chance to take a picture at the top, but after a lot of delays, space was a premium and I was keen to keep moving. I've never climbed Box Hill before and it's somewhat iconic amongst cyclist- over 2km of 7% gradient climbing. I'll be honest here, and say I didn't find it that tough going- I'm fortunate to be fairly powerful through my legs thanks to a couple of years of riding a single speed bike everywhere and a lot of running and associated cross training. The view from the top though, out of this world. Whilst I was incredibly frustrated with the delays- mostly because there was no information coming through as to how long we'd be stuck for and what may or may not be the outcome, I'm very lucky that I the diversion I was sent on only left me 8 miles short of 100, unlike many riders who lost up to 30 miles including the Box Hill climb.

The summit of Box Hill is about 68 miles into the course, so having lost a lot of time earlier on, I decided to get on with the final stretch of the course.

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100m from the finish line. I fucking well did it! I rode 100! #ridelondon

Having alerted Tom when I reached the Box Hill summit, he made his way to the finish on The Mall, he took this a mere 400 metres from the finish line, I don't think I've ever been so excited to hear someone yell my name!


1605

I came. I rode. I had a blast. Thank you so much to @skodagram for having me today, it's been my pleasure and my privilege to ride in your jersey today! #takethelead #ridelondon #teamskoda #womenscyling #ride100 @wmncycling


Just about enough strength left to lift my bike in front of Buckingham Palace. My goal for Rie100 was to finish having had a good time, and that I did. I managed my furthest ever ride with a finish line smile and not suffering injury, dehydration, hyponatraemia or a severe lack of enthusiasm- I am proud that I made it, I'm proud that I enjoyed and I'm proud that I have become a person who knows 'I got this'.


1745

Selfie at the finish of the pro race yesterday. So incredible to watch them finish after my own #ride100 #throwback #womenscycling #teamskoda #ridelondon

Having made my way through the finishing lines and collected my medal (seriously heavy FYI- I couldn't wear it for long as my neck was a bit stiff), I headed down to the hospitality area (thank you Team Skoda for letting me in!) and sat down with a hard earned beer and some nibbles- I've never been so pleased to see a savoury nibble after 8 hours of eating flapjacks and energy gels to keep me fuelled on the ride!

We stayed to watch the pros finish- I've never been that close to bikes moving so fast- made my pace look somewhat snail like...

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And then.... well, sleep. We made our way home, I very much enjoyed a shower, sharing a cheeseboard and having an early night!

Not a bad day out you might say, with huge thanks to the Skoda team for whom it was a privilege to wear a jersey and the Altura Cycling team who have been so very supportive.

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