July 27, 2012, by David Greenaway

Life Cycle 2 Training

There are just four weeks left before we set off from Cape Wrath. That’s scary, given the number of weekends available between now and August 24th.

Over the last couple of months I have managed to get out on most Sunday mornings, generally with some combination of Karen, Kate and Steve; occasionally joined by Nick, Chris J, Penelope and Mike. The weather has not been kind enough for short sleeves. In fact it’s been atrocious. On some occasions four layers offered protection against rain and wind chill for no more than 25 miles. The picture of Karen in a Cotgrave bus shelter says it all.

But, maybe this is exactly the right kind of preparation for north-west Scotland?

Most of our runs have been around 50 miles. The upside is that, even in difficult conditions, everyone seems comfortable with that; the downside is we should really be putting in 80 miles each time. That said, three riders (Penelope, Steve and Gavin) did complete the 100 mile option on the Great Notts Bike Ride last weekend.

There are some excellent routes in pretty well any direction out of Nottingham. A regular run of ours is out to the south west towards Melbourne and Breedon on the Hill, good roads and some undulation with a few decent climbs. Another favourite is to the south, through Ruddington and Plumtree and on to Colston Bassett, Harby, Hose and Long Clawson. They are an excellent reminder of just how attractive the areas around Nottingham are.

One of the great pleasures of Life Cycle 1 was discovering new tea shops for respite, second breakfasts, big lunches and cakes. These Sunday morning runs have turned up some excellent places locally. The Garden Café in Colston Bassett is a nice destination and despite being a very well appointed establishment, welcomes drenched cyclists. Their cakes and scones are first class.

My favourite is the Melbourne Hall Tea Shop. As you can see from the picture, it has standards in terms of what it expects of its clientele and is in a great setting. Most important of all however, it does a fabulous bacon and egg sandwich. When you have put in 30 miles in testing conditions to get there, it is an experience to be savoured.

Given the limited opportunities for training, I am relieved we managed to spend a weekend on ‘The Way of the Roses’ in May. The combination of distance and climbs was a good test and helpful reminder of life on a saddle for several days in succession. If possible I plan to get another Saturday / Sunday run in before we set off for Cape Wrath, ideally with back to back 80+ mile days.

Getting prepared is not only about miles in the saddle (or if necessary on a static bike) it is also about making sure we have the right kit, and lessons were learned from John O’Groats to Land’s End, especially with regards to protective clothing. More base layers, waterproof tops, heavy duty bottoms and overshoes have all been purchased. Mind you, when you have the kind of conditions we have experienced in recent months, better protective clothing only means protection for a bit longer, not forever. Even overshoes leak when there is serious surface water.

There is one exception to this, Skinz waterproof socks. They are amazing and do seem to able cope with anything.

I have also invested in a new bike, same model as the one I used last year (Scott Speedster) but with drop handlebars and a slightly different geometry, which seems to be easier on the neck and shoulders.

For most of the next two weeks I am on leave, with no opportunity for road riding (though even if there were opportunities, I would not be taking them). So, the final two weeks of preparation are going to be pretty intensive. I hope that gets me in good enough shape for the first five or six days of the ride. On the basis of last year’s experience, after that you are actually in training for week two.

Finally, with a month to go before we start, we are in pretty good shape on the fund raising front, with more than £130,000 raised in donations or commitments. That is an excellent position to be in and gives me confidence that we have a great chance of reaching our target of £250,000 for initiatives targeted at raising participation of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in further and higher education.

Professor David Greenaway


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