Thursday, 7 June 2012

London Nightrider - Pre event post.

As per my earlier post HERE - the night of the LONDON NIGHTRIDER event is drawing very close. I wanted to post about it and how it went etc. But last night I thought that maybe it would be better to do a post both before and after the actual event. Once you have completed something, your opinion of it changes and you forget some of your initial fears suddenly those big obstacles you thought you would face turn out not to be so big - after all why worry about something you have completed? Therefore I have decided to write the first half of this post before the event and I will complete it next week when I have done it.

Firstly lets deal with why I decided to do it? Well after being hit by a car back in December last year it took me until March before I could ride again - I have written about this already HERE. I knew I needed to give myself a challenge otherwise I felt I would spend the year not really progressing in my cycling and start to get bored - yes 22 miles a day is OK but it has become fairly routine and I had plateaued as to increasing my fitness, and I was bored of reading about people doing 100 mile rides in a day on a regular basis without actually experiencing it myself.

After the bike crash I had an insurance payout which I was allowed to invest in a new go faster road bike - I invested in a self build very slick bike (I must do a proper post on it sometime) this bike demands a rider who goes places it would be a total sin not to use it properly! So I had the bike, I had the basic fitness need - lastly I needed a reason. I was told about the London Nightrider event and it seemed a like a good one to aim for - further than the London to Brighton (it is 100km - plus travel to and from start / end) and different in that it was through London at night - I felt it would offer up something different and certainly a different aspect on London.

I am riding the event for Diabetes UK (if you would like to donate you can do so HERE through Virgin Giving - go on I know you ant to). The reason for choosing Diabetes UK is because I have been Type1 (i.e. I need to inject 4 times a day) diabetic myself for 30 years.

Before I started this challenge the most I had ridden in a day was 40 miles (and that was only twice) and these were both very much stop start affairs and at quite a gentle pace. My partner in crime for this event (and training buddy) was Peter. Peter has done a number of longer distance rides up to 70 miles and so doesn't face the fear of the unknown I do, he also happens to know the country lanes around us very well and so was able to lead me on weekend rides of about 30 miles through nice areas. The problem with Peter is he loves hills - the man is mad! I on the other hand, hate them with a vengeance - on one particular ride up a two mile hill which I think had 7 or 8% gradients at points the only thing that kept me going was the thought that I will kill him when I caught up with him at the top - fortunately I couldn't even breath let alone kill anyone by the time I reached the top. On the plus side I am faster than Peter on the flat - sadly this is down to my new "go-faster" bike. Because I had basic fitness from my commuting these 30+ mile rides turned out to be fairly easy (even with hills) and more notably when you push yourself to do a little further distance it was amazing how quickly it improved my fitness, to the point where I wasn't even registering my ride into work each day. Very quickly it got to the point that I felt quite comfortable doing 30+ miles and on a couple of occasions carried on for a little extra - I now knew that I had done the London Brighton 54 miles and it was not so much of a challenge - it was also important for me to ride close to the distance of this event just to be certain psychologically that I could do it.

Had I not been diabetic - I think this event would not represent so great a challenge - but the balance of:
1) Getting enough carbs during my ride,
2) Coupled with making sure I have enough insulin inside me to actually convert those carbs
3) At the same time making sure I don't have too much insulin so I hypo on the bike
4) Trying to factor in how much energy I am burning - dependant on the effort
5) The delayed reduction in blood sugar from post exercise (and I assume on such event during as it is going to take a number of hours)

All of this is to be honest a total nightmare - especially as I have no previous experience to use - this is my first proper endurance event. Common and practical sense says I should take the ride easy - but my own madness will not allow me to do this - so I guess we shall see!

Right now - I have all my gels, food, bike, lights, injections, blood sugar level tester sorted and ready to go. But the weather seems about ready to play it's last trick on me - the weather forecast is predicting rain for the night - of all the things I didn't want to deal with was rain and wind - the rest I can accept facing but I will be bitterly disappointed if the weather doesn't join in the fun and hold of the rain. There has been so much rain lately that even I gave up cycling into work in April - I just tired of being soaked every day. For about a month I hardly rode at all - not only was my fitness not improving for the event - it was actually getting worse! It got to the point that I bought a second hand turbo trainer to get some bike hours in at all.

I would say that out of all the things (aside from dealing with the diabetes in this new environment) the weather has been the most difficult to accept and deal with - only I could be in a country complaining about drought and then when I decided to train for the heavens to open for the wettest April on record and a more than average wet May. People were joking that it had rained non-stop since the hosepipe ban - but I knew it had rained non-stop the moment I signed up to do this event!

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