Cycling from London to Paris for WLS & the Royal British Legion

A diary chronicling the aftermath of a mad rush of blood to the head in the middle of the night which resulted in a frantic attempt to turn myself from a terrified novice rider into a long-distance cyclist.

Pedal Power!

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Pedal Power!

 

 

Pedal Power!

16.93 miles were covered today in the push for Pedal to Paris fitness, according to Map My Ride!

 

It has been another beautiful day and Lady Egality decided to join me on her bike. We cycled along the lanes in tandem which was very companionable.

 

About half-way round today’s training route, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a Chinook manoeuvre..

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We were cycling next to RAF Odiham and watched one of the Base’s Chinooks fly right overhead:

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It looked so ungainly and heavy in the air; we were both mesmerised watching it hover in one spot for simply ages.

 

photo (7)

It must be a pretty extraordinary feeling to pilot such a whopping machine.

We stayed for a long time watching it; it was sobering to think all the training is necessary for the troops to be prepared for service out in Afghanistan.

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But then we cycled off and, once away from the RAF Base, felt fancy-free again.

 

[On April 26th, less than 2 weeks after this post was published, 5 military servicemen – 4 of whom were based at RAF Odiham – were killed out in Afghanistan. 

The Basingstoke Gazette report reads: 

 

‘The crash is the first fatal accident involving a UK military helicopter during the conflict in Afghanistan and it is the third biggest loss of life of British troops in a single incident in the country since the conflict began in 2001.

The incident brings the number of British forces killed in the Afghanistan conflict to 453.’

 

 

Maj Gen Richard Felton, Commander Joint Helicopter Command paid tribute saying:

“Events like this, whilst mercifully rare, remind us of the risks our personnel face in their work in Afghanistan as we approach the conclusion of the combat mission later this year.”

BBC News

 

It is dreadful news.]

 

An Un-birthday Present!

When the Agent came home tonight, he arrived bearing a parcel for me – how exciting is that!

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 Guess what was inside, wrapped up in all the tissue paper…..

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Pedal Power shoes with cleats attached! Gosh – that’s serious gear! There was even a shoe maintenance manual provided.

 

 

Advantages of Click-in Pedals & Bike Shoes

 

There is no doubt that click-in pedals are safer. They are designed to release quickly and easily. Similar to a ski binding, when you place your shoe onto the pedal and push down, the cleat snaps into place securing it firmly. To unclip, your simply twist your heel away from the bike.  Unclipping becomes second nature very quickly… the advantages of a firm cleat and stiff shoes will soon become very apparent.  The main advantage however, is that you can achieve a more efficient pedal stroke when using click-in pedals. When you learn how to maximise the full rotation of the pedal stroke by pulling up with your feet, your hill climbing ability will improve, as will your ability to pedal at a higher cadence and you’ll find yourself more efficient in the lower gears. All these reasons will lead to a significant improvement in your endurance but will also reduce wear and tear on your knees, helping you to enjoy your cycling for years to come.

MAGIC SHOES – WOW!

I LOVE the idea of getting ‘a significant improvement’ in my endurance and my hill climbing ability just by putting on a new pair of shoes –  what a result – YAY!
It sounds to me as if these product designers are seriously gifted. I need them to concentrate on designing magic shoes for gardening which will give ‘a significant improvement’ in the lack of weeds in the flower beds and some for cooking which will likewise improve my delicious-supper-making ability.
Now I understand why Imelda Marcos ravea about shoes and has all those thousands of pairs!
This magic shoe business is an extremely exciting concept.

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I’ve got to change the pedals on my Poppy Bike to these Power Pedals so that my feet in the new cycling shoes, will snap in and out of them.

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If I forget I’m wearing shoes with cleats, I will keep falling off. So…I’d better concentrate for a change.

 https://www.youtube.com

I’m going to have to practise clicking in and out of the pedals quite a lot to get the hang of it. Perhaps I should start off on the lawn – what do you think?

Yours hoping I don’t fall off however,

LLH signature

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Eurostar Paris to London!

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Eurostar Paris to London!

 

 

I’ve just heard…My Eurostar Paris to London return ticket has been booked!

How exciting is that! I absolutely love travelling on Eurostar. Incredibly, it doesn’t feel at all as if there’s an enormous bit sea on your head and you’re whisked under the Channel in no time whatsoever.

 

This morning, I received this email from kind Graham at the Royal British Legion re the Pedal to Paris bike ride.

 

Hi Liberty,

 

We’ve only seen the sun occasionally this year but I hope that hasn’t hindered your training. (Ha ha Graham, what a good joke!)

 image002

Trains back from Paris

As Eurostar have now opened their bookings for September I can confirm our train times as 10.13 & 17.13 for the return trip on the 8th. Your ticket is booked for the 17.13 train, if this isn’t the train you meant to book let me know in the next week and we should be able to change this for you.

 

Best wishes,

Graham

 

NO.. please don’t change anything! I’m thrilled to bits with everything just how it is and definitely want as much time in Paris as possible.

I’m beginning to think my Poppy Bike ride from London to Paris might actually happen; Graham obviously really thinks I’m going to end up in Paris and will need a train-ride back home!

Yours excitedly,

LLH signature

 

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Back in the saddle!

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Back in the saddle!

Back in the saddle!

I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. 14.17 miles clocked up for the Pedal to Paris training plan- how about that!

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Armchair Training for the ‘Pedal to Paris’

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Armchair Training for the ‘Pedal to Paris’

Armchair training:

I’ve been ramping up my training for the Pedal to Paris Bike Ride by reading manuals.
It’s very comfortable and cosy reading up about gear changing and clip in shoes while lying on the sofa listening to the rain fall.

But..oh dear.

I’ve had another letter from nice Graham at the Royal British Legion about the London to Paris Bike ride. It’s made me feel very depressed.

He writes, ‘…we do stress that training is really vital. The more hours you invest in the saddle now, the more you will enjoy the ride itself. We always say training pays dividends.You won’t regret it!’

Although the letter says ‘training is vital’, I can’t find any specific reference to armchair training … Gosh! I haven’t invested any hours in the saddle since ages ago when Brown Owl lectured me for cycling in the rain. Do you think Graham has telepathic powers and is worrying that I might be falling behind schedule?

He’s also sent me another training plan.

Scan

 

Graham doesn’t mention anything about the incompatibility of training with gales and flooded roads. He refers to ‘hill training’ rather a lot which sounds ominous to me.

I’ve also noticed that he says the ‘Pedal to Paris’ ride is 450km. What!!!! I thought it was 350km. Now I feel completely exhausted and I’m not even on my Poppy Bike.  I need to go and lie down on the sofa.

LLH reading cyclist's training

Yours anxiously,

LLH signature

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Wicked wet Wednesday

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Wicked wet Wednesday

 

 

I’ve just had  a ‘wicked’ wet Wednesday!

 

Rain poured out of the sky all day but I had a simply fab time!

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I Can’t Sit Down!

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I Can’t Sit Down!

 

I can’t sit down.

Thanks to my epic inaugural Poppy bike ride training session yesterday, today I can’t move. I am stiff all over and I have a sore bottom & so can’t sit down.

It’s awful. I’ve had to creep about the house ‘gingerly’ all day.

  1. I feel all rusted up – just like the Tin Man before Dorothy oiled his joints. That’s the best way I can think of to describe what’s happened to me. 
  2. I now realise I was far too hasty when I rejected the science behind padded cycling shorts. Never again will I dismiss the notion of cycling in what looks exactly like a giant nappy, as ridiculous. From now on, I will remember to do everything I can to ensure the triumph of comfort – even if at the expense of vanity.

 

‘Supportive’ emails from the Agent

The Agent seems to find the fact that I can’t sit down, funny. He burst out laughing when he saw me try to negotiate getting into the car this morning and then sent me several ‘supportive’ emails throughout the day, featuring products which he thought might “help”.

I don’t think  this is tactful of him. It’s not a laughing matter. If any properly ‘supportive’ kind reader would care to point this out to the agent using the comment box below, I should be most grateful.

Supper standing up:

This evening I was forced to accept that, as I can’t sit down, I’d have to eat my supper standing up. It is very hard to be dignified  during a crisis when one’s partner in life appears with a broom in one hand and a mop in the other, to which he has ‘helpfully’ attached a knife and fork with rubber bands.

 

LLH knife and fork cropped

I am having a sense of humour failure. Does this kind of thing ever happen to anyone else? Please comfort me if you can!

Yours stiffly,

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London to Paris Poppy Bike Ride:Training Day 1

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London to Paris Poppy Bike Ride:Training Day 1

 

As you may know, the Royal British Legion are organising a ‘Poppy’ Bike Ride from London to Paris in September. Graham, the Poppy Events Manager, kindly registered me as an entrant last week and today…

I’ve started getting ready to…. cycle to Paris!

I’m pretty excited.

 

London to Paris … Training Schedule: Day 1

 

This morning, following careful instructions from the agent,  I got on my poppy bike and began my training program.

  • I attached 2 little lights to my helmet
  • I learnt how to use the gears
  • I only got off once to push up a hill
  • I cycled through several enormous puddles and it was fun
  • I didn’t fall off
  • I cycled about 8 miles
  • I loved every bit of it.

I’ve got until September  to practise the other 242 or so miles so that I can reckon on actually being able to cycle all the way between London and Paris without conking out. As today was only day 1, I decided not to worry about the whole 250 miles and just to concentrate on my first 8. If you have any good tips to help me with my long distance cycle training program, do please comment below and become an official ‘ Lady Liberty Mentor ‘ !

The sun shone, the roads were empty and I couldn’t believe it; there was nothing I’d have rather been doing!

Lady Liberty training2

I can’t wait to see Paris!

Yours, excitedly,

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On My Poppy Bike (part 4)

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On My Poppy Bike (part 4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH NO …. WHAT HAVE I GONE AND DONE NOW?

Oh my goodness. Now I understand why the Victorians kept vials of sal volatile close to hand.

This morning I found the long awaited email from Graham announcing:

Dear Lady Liberty,

I’m pleased to announce that our bike ride registrations are now open! These rides are big challenges.

Many thanks for all your support and I look forward to seeing you on one of our bike rides.

Best wishes,

Graham

 

He included this picture below of riders looking happy. I think he must have realised that I need might reassurance. That was pretty thoughtful of him, don’t you think?

image001-2

 

 

Please press ‘click’ Now!

I was so happy to hear from Graham and to see all the smiling faces of the riders in the photograph I became carried away and blithely followed Graham’s instructions to sign up. In a jiffy, I had  pressed the ‘click’ button to register. Then I noticed Graham’s phrase about ‘big challenges’ and thought again. It was too late! There was no button to ‘unclick’ my registration. Can you believe it?

The very next thing I knew, even before I could faint away with horror at what I’d done, Graham was emailing me again to say:

Congratulations! You are now registered for the Pedal to Paris.

You will shortly be receiving a Bike Ride starter pack that will help you get training for the ride but if you have any questions please get in contact.

Best wishes,

Graham

Events Manager

Je suis well and truly dans la soupe maintenant.

Oh dear. It is one thing to imagine doing something and to make jolly sounding New Year Resolutions, but it is quite another to lock oneself into actually doing it. The agent is unmoved by my wobbles and asks why on earth I pressed the ‘click’ button if I don’t want to do the ride. I don’t know why he has to be so logical at times like these. I am in a crisis!

I’d better ‘get on my Poppy bike’, hadn’t I?

Yours nervously,

LLH signature

 

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On My Poppy Bike (part 3)

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On My Poppy Bike (part 3)

 

 

Now it is 2014, I need to start my preparations for the London-Paris Poppy Bike Ride.

Just before Christmas, kind Graham from the Royal British Legion,  emailed me.

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Fitness training for Paris!

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Fitness training for Paris!

 

 

 

 

It has been a while since I have updated you about my fitness training schedule for the London – Paris Bike Ride next year which I am hopeful of both entering and completing.

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My trip to Paris involves important decisions

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My trip to Paris involves important decisions

I am very busy getting prepared for my epic Poppy Bike ride to Paris in aid of The Royal British Legion. There are many important decisions to be made as to what I shall need in terms of support equipment.

 

 

These are some of the items I am deciding about:

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On My Poppy Bike (part 2)

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On My Poppy Bike (part 2)

It’s pouring with rain today so the village is awash with umbrellas and wellies.  The polite car drivers slow down but others just steam through the puddles on the road splashing those of us on foot as if we didn’t matter.  We think they are extremely rude.

 

Back home at Castle Coop, I am now warm and dried out from my wet walk in the rain, with a beautifully hot little tasse de café right by me. I have checked my in-box: (ladylibertyhen@gmail.com) and look what I have found waiting for me there!

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On My Poppy Bike (part 1)

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On My Poppy Bike (part 1)

The agent and I have been busy sorting out the Poppy selling kits so that we will be ready to go collecting round all the village houses at the end of the month. The dining room is full of little cardboard trays full of paper poppies and collecting tins – I will feel like an usherette in an old-fashioned cinema selling ice-creams..

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