Recharging, ready for raising the game!

Stats:
Money raised to date: £2257.79 (+ gift =
£2,452.79)

If you follow us, you know that we have mixed feelings about rest week. We are doing ‘century rides/100 milers’ every weekend now and the second ride of the weekend is now creeping up in terms of mileage, so whether we like it or not we need time out to give our bodies a break and to fill up our energy levels. So every 4th week is a week where we have more rest and pull back on the intensity of our training. Whilst we look forward to a break from the big miles we struggle a bit to reign it in – highlighted beautifully in a mid week conversation we had where Sam was giving me a ticking off for swimming on rest days – my justification being that I’m only in the sea for half an hour as I adjust to the cold water and get my swim time up ready for the Scilly Swim I’m doing next month so it’s hardly a full on training session. Followed by her admission that she went out on the bike ’smashing for stats’ earlier that day despite the fact this week is all about pulling back. We’re both as bad as each other. However, in our defence the fitter we get and the bigger the miles that we do – I guess ‘rest’ is relative?


It was made somewhat easier this week given Sam and I had both planned weekends away and some much needed time with the family/friends that we end up neglecting somewhat when we’re in the thick of training. I was off to Cornwall with my daughter to spend time with my brother and his family and to enjoy the delights of Padstow, living in a little wooden cabin by the sea with a wood-burner – drinking beer, overeating and generally having a relaxed weekend with no real plans other than to be with my nearest and dearest. Friday was glorious sunshine and I had a real sense of joy having taken the day off work to explore the beaches and coastline, pizza and beer for lunch and a meal out at Rick Stein’s pub in the evening. Saturday and Sunday were windy and really cold – so we opted for a trip to Newquay Zoo and a night in at my brothers. My Sister In Law is an awesome cook so that’s never a hardship. Great to be away, I love that part of the world so much and it was just the tonic. I have to admit that whilst I’d had a lovely weekend I did feel like something was missing. My plans changed Sunday afternoon so I thought I’d use the time to get an endurance swim in at David Lloyd and some time relaxing in the sauna….then I realised what I was missing…..endorphins. I felt so much brighter for getting my fix!

Sam was off to North Devon for a weekend with her husband and good friends, drinking gin, indulging in great food, surfing, seaside walks, daytime naps and again – just letting go and enjoying all the good things in life. It’s nice to hear her relaxing.

I read a blog at the weekend about someone who’d done the RAB ride last year and it was a blow by blow account of the riders experience both physically and emotionally. There was a lot around his preparation as well as his account of the 9 days cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats. It made me realise that we’re very much on track in terms of our preparation but it made the pending ride feel more real. And I don’t mind admitting that of course i’m excited but I’m a bit anxious too. It brought it home reading about the emotional highs and lows, the toll on the body and the challenges of riding big miles every days and camping every night. 980 miles is a long way and 9 nights camping and being in the ‘RAB bubble’ is going to have it’s challenges.

Anyway. Suitably recharged and raring to go. This week we’re aiming for our first weekend of back-to-back 100 milers. Eeek.

Highs
Sarah

Sea swimming before work a few mornings each week. An invigorating start to the day!
A weekend of eating, drinking, laughing and lay ins!
Sam
Saturday afternoon after surfing in the morning, I had an hour snooze in our beach front apartment – and I never normally sleep during the day, so super enjoyed a recharge.
Cocktails, yummy food and quality time with my hubby – much needed time away for us.
Lows
Sarah

Wiggle now charging for returns. I spend a fortune on that site largely on the basis returns are quick, easy and free if necessary. I’m not impressed.
Not being able to walk properly after Wednesdays weights session, for a few days.
Sam
Rest week is always a weird one – feeling physically and emotionally drained after a tough few weeks More of a learning curve than a low – need to stop smashing my legs to pieces and ease back on rest week, as definitely pushed too hard this week. Lead legs!

The ups and downs of training and a weekend of moor miles!

Funds raised to date: £2237.79 (+gift aid = £2427.79)
Miles cycled this week: Sarah 154 / Sam 165

This was our third week of training and as the intensity and miles have increased. Cycling is a great sport and we both love it, but the training takes it’s toll on us, both physically and mentally. Sarah was struggling at the beginning of the week with lack of sleep which meant she had to adjust her training accordingly, as just didn’t have the energy to work at her normal level. I was the opposite and struggled later in the week, as the pressures of squeezing work/training/fundraising and trying to have a normal life, got the better of me. I stupidly knocked a glass of water over a load of birthday cards I had bought (trying to be organised), ruining them all and I just lost it, ending up in tears – not what my husband was expecting to come home to!!

Sarah and I support of each other during our training and even though the timing of our highs and lows differ, we can both relate to what the other is going through, as it is difficult to sometimes explain to others. However, our families and friends offer us a much needed/different support and distraction as we switch off from being ‘nutters on bikes’ to wife, mum, daughter, friend. They’re also extremely good at providing food to us hangry cyclists 🙂

We are very lucky and have been truly overwhelmed by the support and encouragement offered by people around us. We had some fantastic donations made to our fundraising pot this week and Sarah also confirmed two other companies were joining us as corporate sponsors. We are super excited to have Sandler Training and Bluegrass Computer Services as cycle jersey sponsors. Thank you 🙂

I decided to have my first sports massage this week and couldn’t believe the difference it made. It was painful at times as she dug deeper, showing how badly my muscles needed it, but I really felt the difference straight away and looked forward to seeing how much it would help my performance at the weekend.

After all the highs and lows of the week, Saturday arrived and with a slight reluctance, Sarah and I were back on the bikes, knowing that this was the last long ride before rest week. We were both a bit apprehensive as the last two times we had been over Exmoor it was shocking weather, with my hands freezing on one of the rides forcing me to get off and walk down hills as I couldn’t physically brake. But we really shouldn’t have worried as the weather was perfect for cycling. An easy paced 33 miles to Dulverton, a piece of our favourite Caramelised Apple Cake from Mortimers café and we were fuelled for the moors.

We climbed up through beautiful winding lanes and were soon crossing the cattle grid, a true sign you’re on the moor. Although we couldn’t see the views due to cloud, the sun broke through and the wind remained low. Our buzz was back and we flew across the moor, before climbing up from Simonsbath, one of our favourite and most scenic parts of Exmoor. We really were on a high by the time we reached the top. Even with a headwind, nothing was phasing us and with no traffic, it felt like it was just us and the bikes.

We continued our journey and after 33 more miles, we were dropping back into Dulverton for our savoury stop, a fish finger sandwich at The Bridge Inn and boy was it good!! A pot of tea to wash it down and then back on the bikes, but within seconds Sarah realised that her back tyre had lost air. We pulled over and pumped up the tyre as best we could and decided to see how far we could get, knowing we’d probably need to stop and pump it up again soon – but that we would pass a bike shop en route in Tiverton. We limped along and the super helpful owner of The Bike Shop quickly replaced the punctured tube for us and we were soon on our way. Whilst we could have changed the tube ourselves, the back tyre is more tricky than the front and as we were so close to the shop we thought we’d utilise the services of an expert rather than wrestle with the tyre/tube by the side of the road.

Sarah and I agreed that we would stick to an easy pace (17-18mph) on the last part of our ride, no showboating or smashing the speed! That went out the window within about a mile with Sarah and I both feeling strong – we did the opposite and smashed through the miles reaching 25mph at one point. Both laughing at each other, but neither of us letting up. Back to the start and two cyclists who couldn’t keep the grins off their faces, feeling good, feeling strong and 99 miles done. Would we pay for this in the morning?

No!! That’s the simple answer. A true sign that our bodies are adapting to the challenge and century rides/multi day rides are now just normal for us. We did our own thing on Sunday, I went for a ride to Mamhead which is a hill climb that many cyclists use. I was super pleased to get quite a few cups and PBs on Strava and a fast out and back cycle which I absolutely loved. My legs felt fresh and strong and the sports massage was really paying off and making a huge difference. Sarah went out and covered some great miles, knowing she had the strength to push harder when needed. And our work was done!! 3 weeks which included our first 100 mile ride, 92 miles over Dartmoor and 99 miles over Exmoor. What will the next 3 weeks have in store? But for now, it’s time to scale it down for a week and have some much needed time out.

Highs
Sam

Sports Massage – it really did work wonders, feel like a new person
Exmoor – it can be a beast, but this weekend it was a beauty
Mamhead cups on Strava – I have enjoyed not looking at stats recently, but I love smashing it up Mamhead.
Sarah
Flying along on Saturday over Exmoor. Funny how cycling 100 miles has just become normal for us now. Felt so good in the warmth over Exmoor
Loving that I recover so much quicker after the longer rides now, instead of feeling totally wiped out. Amazed how good I felt on the bike on Sunday.
Big smiles at securing 6 amazing Exeter businesses as our ‘corporate sponsors’ – I’m thrilled.

Lows
Sam

The strain of trying to do loads of stuff all at once, really got to me this week and I felt overwhelmed by it all
Thursday spin session was super tough, legs tired and nothing left to give
Knowing Sarah was not sleeping well – sleep deprivation has such a massive knock on effect.
Sarah
Not sleeping and feeling so tired at the start of the week. It’s driving me crazy.
Feeling overwhelmed with the sheer workload of training, fundraising, running a business and trying to have a life and maintain relationships with my people!





Hilly rides, sunshine and the fundraising pot growing! Lots to smile about.. :)

Stats
Bike miles this week = Sarah 150 – Sam 175
Money raised so far = £1,387.79 + gift aid

What a week! It has been so full of amazing things – sunshine, sea swims, big bike miles, more money in our fundraising pot and progress with our new event brand!

The routine has changed somewhat in recent weeks. We’ve significantly upped the intensity of our weekend riding and we’re into big miles now and just don’t always feel like getting up at 5am and spinning at 6am on a Monday anymore. I’m a big believer in quality training as opposed to ‘empty’ sessions for the sake of it. I think starting the week feeling rested and energised is a better idea for me than a ‘hell for leather session’ on a tired body, which might impact the rest of my week – so slightly longer in bed on a Monday instead of an early morning alarm felt like a better idea this week.

I’ve been sea swimming twice this week before work and whilst it’s seriously cold in the water, it’s so exhilarating and I’m loving being back in the water again. I swim until I can’t feel my face or my swimming buddy says I’m talking like I’ve been to the dentist – I’m gradually building up my tolerance to cold water as I’m swimming round the Scilly Isles in May and the water there is pretty cold. I also think it’s probably pretty good ‘recovery’ from the cycling too? The sea is like an ice bath at the moment!

Where I’m swimming and doing the occasional ride, Sam is on her bike and doing HIIT sessions – and we still manage a weights session in the gym together most weeks but it’s all about the weekends at the moment. I have to really work hard to reign in my envy when I hear Sam’s off on a bike ride without me and is getting more miles in – but of course I’m also building for my swim event so having to get more ‘water miles’ in right now.

We met at mine on Saturday and set off on a hilly 75 miler over Dartmoor – we felt we needed to get some hills in. The plan was steady miles – no ’show boating’ – so as not to burn out and be fit to ride the next day. It was so cold as we started out but after 20 miles the sun came out and we started climbing and the arm warmers, gilets and other unnecessary layers were off! We rode up some of the biggest hills in the area – Mamhead, 6 mile hill to Dartmoor and Haytor. We added in an extra stop – to make 2 – as I needed a break from the hills and Sam’s stomach was rumbling. Whilst we eat gels and snack bars on the bikes whilst riding, we of course miss meals when we’re out for hours. We’re burning around 3000 calories on a ride like that one – so a stop at Cross Street Cafe in Moretonhampstead and some savoury food and a coke/herbal tea was most welcome. We flew home after that. 75 had turned into 92 miles and 6500ft of climbing. Sam’s Strava will always say something different, her phone records more climbing than my watch even though we ride exactly the same route – so according to her upload we rode 6800ft which sounds much more impressive! 😉

Sunday was Mother’s Day and so we did our own thing. Sam had a blast to her Mum’s house and judging by her Strava entry she smashed all 44 of the miles there. I had 38 mile ride with a friend around Exeter and East Devon – I was definitely feeling tired on the bike after the day before so we opted for a chatty pace and enjoyed a catch up!

In terms of fundraising I was thrilled to have another local client sign up to be one of our Corporate Sponsors and are delighted to announce that World First Travel Insurance are now officially sponsoring our cycling jersey’s – along with Sarah West Recruitment and Air Marketing – and of course our main sponsor in the form of James Shakespeare, the founder of Evosite. We’ve had a meeting this week where the Evosite team unveiled our new ‘bike brand’ and it’s amazing – but we can’t share it with you just yet!

Wednesday night was the Sarah West Recruitment (my company!) pub quiz and it was brilliant, even if I do say so myself. I can’t take any of the credit, other than being behind the idea – a member of my team wrote the quiz and did all the organising. It was themed around cycling and the pending Ride Across Britain event – with some funny rounds like ‘Cornwall and Scotland food/drink’ or the ‘John round’ (as we finish at John O’Groats) and all money raised going into our fundraising pot. We had 50 people/11 teams turn up and raised £430 (woo!) and there’s now a call for a follow up quiz which we’re working on.

I don’t mind admitting though that I’m super tired, all this cycling and fundraising is tiring…. Until next time!

Highs
Sarah

Sea swimming
Hot cross buns, I literally can’t get enough of them
The Sarah West quiz night, our first foray as a business into events and it was amazing
Cycling in the sunshine and taking in all the views over Dartmoor
Sam
Sunny bike miles – feels like every day is a bike day at the moment
Burning calories=lots of food=everything tastes incredible!
Seeing our new brand for the first time, which looks awesome

Lows
Sarah

Haytor on Saturday. Having ridden up many other hills before tackling Haytor, I think I just hit a bit of a low point/sense of humour failure. A sandwich and a coke and I was soon back on form.
Feeling tired most the time
Chaffing. Enough said.
Sam
Clocks changing – losing one hour sleep on a big mile weekend was not great!
Sunny days stuck in the office – all I want to do is be out on the bike 

First Century of the Year!

Stats
Money raised so far – £1,021.79
Miles cycled this week – 175

Sarah and I had big plans for our first week back on full training, as we were aiming for the first 100 mile ride of the year. The week consisted of our normal spin, HIIT, swim (Sarah had her first sea swim this week!) weights, watt bike and I managed to get my best bike out and on the road for some actual bike time on Thursday, which was ace! Both Sarah and I are lucky enough to have 2 bikes, older bikes that we use as the work horses during the winter and newer bikes that we use during the spring and summer.

It was an uber busy working week, but all the stresses and strains of the week were soon forgotten as Friday fast approached and all thoughts turned to our century ride. It’s amazing how Sarah and I are a lot less stressed about big mile days, as it is pretty normal for us now, but we used to feel the pressure and anxiety a lot. We prepare for the ride in pretty much the same way as other rides, but just need to take into account any additional kit and supplies (food and hydration) we will need for the extra miles, especially when heading up on the moors, the weather can change significantly.

We set out at 7am on Saturday morning from David Lloyd in Exeter and the first part of the ride was to cycle to Dawlish and back, the weather was cloudy, dry and minimal winds and we were both smiling the whole way – so good to be out. Around 25 miles later we were on the Quay in Exeter at The Boatyard Bakery. We were delighted to find amazing cinnamon swirl buns and hot drinks to refuel us and time for us to reflect on the ride so far, both of us were buzzing and all of our tough winter rides and indoor spin hours were paying off, we felt both physically and mentally strong.

We decided that to ensure we could ride consecutive days we had to work on maintaining a good pace throughout, which meant reducing our normal speed slightly. This is quite tough for us to do as our natural reaction is that if we feel good, we ride fast! However, Lands End to John O Groats is all about completing the miles and then getting up the next day and doing it all over again. By pulling back slightly, we can remain strong throughout the ride and it will help aid our recovery for the days ahead. Sarah told me off a couple of times and had to keep me in check – great teamwork 🙂

Back out on the road, this time towards Dulverton on Exmoor, it always rains when we’re there, but for the first time it was sunny and beautiful. We decided to carry on through the town and head out the other side which took us out along the valley on a narrow road which then went winding up through the forest. It was great, a proper adventure to be on new roads and after a while of climbing we decided to drop back down and get some much needed cake, spotting a little bakery on our descent which we would remember for next time.

We always go to the same cake stop in the town, but after 20 minutes of waiting to be served we left and headed off elsewhere for the much needed refreshments. We were hangry and impatient cyclists!!

So back to the bakery we went and there aren’t many places that you walk in and ask for a tea and they say they will ‘put the kettle on’!! Two lovely ladies gave us great customer service and they make everything by hand, which includes their amazing hot cross buns and carrot cake, which we made light work of, they were delicious. Sitting in the bakery, looking out onto green fields, the sun shining and our cups of tea, we were both in a great place and raving about how much we were enjoying it and with no dread about the cycle home, as we were feeling good.

Homeward bound, but we knew we were going to be slightly short on the miles, so to make sure we got over the 100 we adjusted our route a few times to add on extra miles where we could, which even meant getting back to David Lloyd with half a mile to go and having to cycle past and up the road, before turning around and heading back to make sure we were over the century!!

The century ride was our reward for those days when our hands and feet were frozen, or when the rain never stopped, or when the winds blew us across the road or we were stuck inside on spin bikes for hours – it was all worth it! Winter training is tough, much tougher than we imagined. 100 miles done – stretch, shower and then A LOT of food. Early night for both of us, ready for the next day. Both of us a little apprehensive about how we would feel when we were back on the bikes.

We messaged in the morning and were both awake early, so decided to head out earlier than planned. It was an amazing sunny morning and we headed down towards the coast first, along Exmouth and Budleigh, before heading inland and working our way through the country lanes. We both felt good, legs were slightly tired, but they still had energy left and coped with the miles extremely well. By keeping our pace slightly lower it means we can actually look around and as it was such a clear day, the far reaching views over the East Devon countryside were stunning, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning, and Sarah even threw in a few extra hills for me – she knows me so well!

Over 30 miles,our weekend of cycling was done and what a weekend. The bike buzz is back and our biggest miles covered in a week.

In other news – We confirmed our second corporate sponsorship with the amazing Air Marketing, so we are super excited to have them on board and are so grateful for their support.

Highs
Sam

Being back on Liv – my beautiful summer bike (oh I have missed her)
Spring cycling – absolutely loving the bike time
Sarah
Sunshine, light morning and low winds. Bliss whether in the sea or on bikes!
Having Air Marketing on our ‘team’

Lows
Sam

Juggling training/work/life balance
Moron motorists – had one car so close, that they knocked my hand with their wing mirror.
Sarah
The stress of juggling a business, child, training and fundraising. It’s all so exciting but at times it’s a bit overwhelming..


Recharging – and on the hunt for sponsors… :)

Stats
Money raised so far: £ 1009.79 (You can sponsor us here!)
Alcohol drunk: Sarah = 1 bottle of red, 1 G&T, 2 beers. Sam = 3 cocktails, few shots of gin, pint of Guinness and a glass of wine.
Bike miles this week = low (F**ks given: 0)

Normally we battle against rest week and have to force ourselves to take it easy, not so this time round. Just to reinforce that I’m typing this blog on Sunday night drinking my second Brewdog ‘Elvis Juice.’ After 4.5 months of training I think it’s safe to say that tired hit us both this week and we were both pretty happy to have a break from big bike miles and our routine. There was no hesitation in hanging up our cycling shoes in favour of rest and replenishing our bodies and energy levels. and some time out Really unusual moods from us both this week – both physically and mentally tired and nocholant about cycling. Weird!

There has still been a fair amount of fitness this week but probably half of what we’d normally do and at a much lower level of intensity – probably 6-7 hours in total for me of spin/swim/bike and weights. Sam similar in terms of time but less swimming and more spin/HIIT

The focus this week has been on the events and final plans for the Sarah West Recruitment pub quiz at the City Gate on the 27th and finally confirming the numbers with the caterers for the black tie do in April. We’ve sold all tickets for the Spring Ball and we’re thrilled.

Our new focus is finding some ‘corporate sponsors!’ It’s not common knowledge yet but we have a main sponsor/supporter in the form of Evosite – a pretty impressive digital agency in the area. James, the founder, offered to sponsor us initially which then led into something slightly different.

Our ride/fundraising coincides with their launch of a new side of their business and as a result they’re creating a brand for us (exciting!) and will be driving awareness of what we’re doing through an extensive digital marketing campaign mostly through LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook leading up to the event. During the event of course we’ll be expecting things to ramp up and there will be a mini-site that tracks our progress and updates our audience with video, photos and written content as to where we are/how much we’ve raised and how we’re feeling. This will help them showcase their skills and allow them to refer to this project/success as they pitch for other work – and there’s an opportunity to piggy back on this activity for any companies who would like to be promoted to our audience (s)

Part of what Evosite are doing is also creating some branded cycling gear for us to wear, hence the idea that has formed!

We’re looking for a small number of organisations who might be interested in some ‘corporate’ sponsorship. At a basic level you’d be paying to have your company logo on our cycling shirts, which we’ll wear whilst training (extensive miles each week) and on the event. There will be lots of photos of us in our kit as we document our training and the event itself, across out personal/work and the new brand’s social media – and of course we’ll tag/reference/thank you in any posts It’s important to us that our sponsors will share and get behind what we’re doing too.

Equally, there’s a next tier where you could have an advert in Grow Mag ( Grow Exeter are our media partner) alongside our feature, banners up at our events (pub quiz next week, black tie Spring Ball in April and something else I’m hatching for May) plus a ‘sponsors after drinks party’, dual content on LinkedIn/on our new mini site –we’re open to a conversation around that.

If you’re interested let us know, we only have 8-10 spots to get involved and a few are already signed up. Can’t wait to tell you who’s involved!

Anyway, back to it tomorrow and the start of the next phase of training – and an epic weekend of cycling next week on the cards. Praying for decent weather!

Highs
Sarah

Just having some time out of big bike miles at the weekend and an extra rest day!
Doing a small ride with my friend Paul, a natter and some easy miles in the sun on Sunday – bliss
Finishing a length in the pool only to see Sam getting into my lane, can’t get away from her… 😉
Sam
Cocktails on Friday night- a much needed evening off at Forn, Exeter!
Spa time- had an hour catch up in spa with my mate Katie on Saturday- lush!

Lows
Sarah
Just feeling tired/emotional this week!
The horrendous weather this week.
Sam
Legs-they hurt so much after weekend and weird to not have power in them
Lack of energy- just didn’t want to do much this week, a true sign of how hard these past few weeks have been



6 months to go!!

Stats.
We have now cycled over 2000 miles since we started training.
Money raised so far: £910

Us on the left riding back from Dulverton (joke) and on the right the Bianchi Dama ladies team at the Michelmores event mid week.

Our third week of full on training, started as normal with spin first thing on Monday morning. I was feeling pretty good and enjoyed it, Sarah not so much and unable to hold normal power output, was starting to feel a little disconnected as her head was saying yes and legs were saying no.

Both of us have learned a lot about how our bodies cope with the constant pressures we put them under, so Sarah knew when her resting heart rate (RHR) was slightly elevated and she didn’t feel 100% that she had to take a step back and have some extra rest days. Coping with stressful lives, on top of a fairly full on training schedule can take its toll and Sarah is a great believer in quality over quantity.

I did my normal training, but my body was becoming more and more tired as the week went on, so rest and recovery were vital and I was keeping a super close eye on my RHR, hydrating and eating well and trying to avoid anyone who sneezed or coughed with the dreaded lurgy.

Sarah and I had a fantastic meeting with our sponsor on Thursday morning, with lots of exciting plans ahead of us. Our next challenge is to gain additional sponsors for our amazing new kit that we will be designing. We are aiming to have around 8 sponsors, with their names on our jerseys and shorts, as with the amount of riding we will be doing over the summer, it is a great way for us to advertise as we pedal!

We then went to a Bianchi Women’s racing talk at Michelmores on Thursday evening, so got a chance to hear about their team, races, nutrition, bikes, sponsors and a whole lot more – an interesting evening.

By the end of the week Sarah was feeling better, although aware that she needed to still take things super easy, whereas I knew that my body was tired and it was gonna be a tough weekend in the saddle.

So Saturday morning arrived and we were slightly nervous that the winds were high and gusty, so we chose a familiar route. Hard work with the wind in our face and gusting side winds that made us wobble at times – but we were determined to get to our favourite cake stop and persevered through wind and rain until we reached Dulverton.

Sheltering from the wind and rain, we were back in our happy place, next to the fire with a hot drink, the best caramelised apple cake ever and a toasted tea cake in hand. A good natter and catch up, as we had hardly seen each other all week, meant that it was soon time to kit back up and pray for some tail wind to help us home.

I had suffered with my back wheel rubbing on the way out that morning, but hadn’t quite realised how badly until checking the bike closer. An issue with the rear wheel bearing meant there was a huge amount of play in the wheel and that it was dragging against the brakes. My legs were ridiculously tired, but on the journey out I had managed to keep a reasonable speed, lagging behind Sarah at times, but nothing too drastic. However the journey home would be one of my toughest mental and physical challenges of our training yet.

I was literally dragging my back wheel all the time and my legs had nothing else to give, the previous week windy ride and 3 full on weeks of training were showing! I was super slow and Sarah was sitting on the front for much of the way home, being an absolute legend, so I could keep out of the wind which was full on for most of the way. I felt terrible, just watching the wheel rotation to keep focused, but having no power, no energy and a broken bike, there was a moment when I actually nearly cried! But what else to do, but man up and dig deeper!

I was soooo glad by the time we got back, a big hug and 68 miles done, a great training day, even though it may not have felt it. Sarah had enjoyed her cycle back and was looking super strong, so her days off had been the right decision. My legs were broken and aching so much, even when I was watching TV with my feet up, later that evening, so the decision was made that I needed a forced rest day and there would be no more bike time for me this week.

This challenge is set to push us to our limits, both physically and mentally, so the fact that Sarah and I have good and bad days in the saddle, means that by the time we reach the start line, in less than 6 months time (eek), our training will have made us as strong as possible to help cope with the daily ups and downs of pedalling our way across the length of the country.

But for now, rest week ahead and then some serious miles with our first century ride on the horizon.

Highs
Sam

Cake – this week is definitely all about the cake – cake stop at Mortimers in Dulverton and a treat from Exploding Bakery in Exeter
Friends and puppies – a long overdue catch up with one of my besties, which included cuddles with her new puppy.
Sarah
Feeling strong on Saturday’s ride and more that happy to be dragging Sam back on my back wheel. Didn’t like seeing her so wiped out that day and the least I could do was to keep the speed to a reasonable pace/shelter her from the wind and try to keep her spirits high.
Not riding on Sunday, felt really good to have a lazy morning and go to the pub for lunch! I did a fantastic swim session later that day instead which I really enjoyed.
Amazing meeting with our key sponsor/supporter, so excited about working together and what we’re going to achieve.

Lows
Sam
Saturday ride – I hated having to let Sarah drag me home for much of the route as legs and bike just not co-operating!
Wind – I’ve had enough of bad weather now – rain, wind, cold – a warm sunny day riding is needed.
Sarah
Feeling out of sorts all week and having forced rest time. I think immune system low with lots of training, possible bugs and work stress. I hate feeling like I’m not firing on all cylinders so I had 3 days off and ate well and slept as much as I could to recover – felt so much better for it by the weekend.



Month 4. So far so good….

Stats
Averaging approx 150 bike miles per week
Money raised so far: £890

It was the usual routine this week (spin, swim, gym, HIIT, bike time etc) although both of us going from feeling supercharged and full of beans to feeling physically tired and bit ‘meh’ at different points. For me the start of the week was a challenge and Sam later on – but we soon seem to adjust and either eat/sleep/drink more or pull back a bit on the training for a day and it seems to pass. Sam is always perky in this 2nd of the 3 harder weeks of our routine and normally I come into my own next week – which is good news for me as we’re planning our first century ride at the weekend (100 miles) 🙂
I’ll think we’ll do pretty well during the event itself as we both have highs at different times which means there’s always one happy smiley face out the pair of us to help the other or to take the brunt of a headwind or to set the pace. We’re a good team.
A lot of our conversation these days is about not overdoing it or pushing too hard. If you push too hard or haven’t eaten enough on the ride you essentially can bonk on the ride (cycling term for running out of steam, you feel dreadful and just don’t have ‘the legs’ to continue although of course you have to!) or feel wiped out afterwards. Neither is much fun.
Our event is of course all about endurance, it’s not just completing the day’s ride (which is anything been 100-120 miles) but being able to get up the next day and do it again – so our training is about building up the tolerance to the time in the saddle, being able to ride big miles consecutive days on tired legs and so we’re fine tuning our riding pace and routine/nutrition and recovery. Whilst we want to get faster and stronger – most of our training should be at moderate pace as too fast/hard or too much could mean we ‘over train’ and get ill or injured.. That’s sometimes a problem for 2 girls who just tend to be full on with everything 😉 so we’re keeping each other on track.

I watch my resting heart rate (as does Sam) so I can see if it creeps up that I know my body either isn’t recovered, I’m over training or I’m coming down with something. Equally whilst sometimes my legs might ache or feel tired if I can see my RHR is normal I know that it’s my head that’s holding me back – not my body!

We’re entering month 4 of training and so far so good.

Our long rides were done separately this weekend due to other plans. I did a long ride Friday of 75 miles. It was pretty eventful with me being first on the scene to help a cyclist who’d had an accident on the cycle path near Lympstone, poor guy had really hurt his shoulder and was in shock when I arrived. I felt a bit shaky riding after seeing/helping him so just took it easy (ish!)

Sam rode on Saturday out to North Devon (69 miles) to visit family and friends, poor thing had an epic ride in blustery winds which sounded pretty horrendous and was met by her amazing husband who’d anticipated how she’d be feeling had even pre-ordered food for her at the restaurant they had arranged to meet up.

Sunday the weather was so vile we decided to ride indoors, another 45 miles in the bag.

Highs
Sarah

Picking up an amazing Gucci bracelet (bottle of champagne and gift voucher) from Michael Spiers in the week. They’ve very generously given us these for our raffle and auction. I’m thrilled. So generous!
Brew Dog’s Elvis Juice
Guilt free hot cross bun’s #carbingup
Sam
Getting to the top of final hill on Saturday ride and seeing the sea! Finally made it!
Fish finger sandwich recovery food (thanks hubby)
Drafting off a tractor – only in North Devon

Lows
Feeling tired this week
Helping a poor crashed cyclist on Friday, another reminder how vulnerable us cyclists are at times
The evil leg session Sam made me do on Wednesday morning
Sam
Headwind – totally drained my legs and full on for about 50 miles! Mentally awful.
Riding solo- tough to be out on own, as much nicer riding with others but also gives you respite from the elements





Spin Spin Spin Spin!

This week was all about our spinathon event, which would see us and 28 others spinning on the bikes for anything from 1 hour to 4 hours, obviously Sarah and I were going for the full four hours!

Monday morning started the same as always, an early start at David Lloyd, on the indoor bikes and the rest of the week saw Sarah and I doing our own workouts. Even though we didn’t see each other until the weekend, we were constantly messaging each other about our events, training and general day to day stuff. It’s amazing to have someone else who can relate to the daily emotional roller coaster I tend to go through.

As the weekend approached we were getting more and more apprehensive about the spinathon event. Not only were there some last minute cancellations, so spaces to fill, but we wanted to make sure the event ran as smoothly as possible, with everyone having the best experience possible – especially as they were supporting us. And then there was the added stress of actually knowing we had to perform for four hours on the spin bikes!

By Friday night, I was feeling the stress levels reaching a high and it wasn’t until later in the night, when there was really nothing else we could do, that I got an early night to try and get as much sleep as possible. I was surprised that I slept well, but woke with butterflies of excitement and nerves. We arrived at David Lloyd, Exeter, nice and early to help set up and walked in to find that the bikes were going to be set up in the middle of the downstairs lounge/café area, and not outside, which was amazing!!! And as soon as we got them moved into place, it looked awesome and we were buzzing, adrenaline was pumping and I knew it was going to be one epic morning of cycling. All nerves out the window and ready for the challenge.

All of our fantastic spinners started to arrive and after big welcome hugs, everyone was choosing their bikes and getting their legs warmed up. Dan Fleming, Pippa Rothwell, Candice Peachey and Joe Rosser were our instructors for the morning, with Dan kicking off proceedings and warming the crowd up. There was such a fantastic atmosphere, with Sarah and I really feeling the love. We are so lucky to have such fantastic friends and support from everyone involved.

It wasn’t long before Dan had worked through his pyramid set and was handing the ropes over to Candice to take us into the second hour, with some people switching off and on bikes, some grabbing goodies such as jelly babies, bananas, energy gels or bars, just to help them stay fuelled for the remaining three hours. Candice helped us all sing our way through the next hour, especially a moment when we were all singing loudly to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ which was quite apt, being sat on a bike for so long.

My husband, sister and brother in law were a great support during the morning, selling raffle tickets, directing people to bikes, filling water bottles and handing out bananas and gels to people. And of course being my personal support crew to pass me bottles and bars during the event – thank you 🙂

And then we were into the third hour with Pippa at the helm. This for me was the toughest hour, with my legs starting to feel tired and my head questioning why I was doing this. And my mental battle was not helped by the extreme burning on the sole of my feet, a common cyclist issue called ‘hot feet’ which feels like they are on fire. Sarah and I experienced this during our 140 mile Dragon ride in 2018, but at least we would get some respite when descending, but no downhill on a spin bike!!!

But we are both super determined and battled through the pain, knowing that everyone else was also digging deep, with the fourth and final hour approaching, Joe Rosser took the final set and led us to the finish line, completing the 4 hours himself. It’s amazing how your legs find something else left in the tank when you know you are nearly finished and I was loving the final sprints of the morning. It may have also been the energy gel that I had half an hour before the end 🙂

And then it was done – a little under 4 hours – 4 instructors – the most amazing bunch of people spinning with us and taking on their own challenges for the morning. Sarah and I stayed on the bikes to make sure we hit the 4 hours/go for slightly higher mileage, which some others did as well, which was great to see people’s determination to reach their own personal goals.

It had been an amazing morning of spinning, sweating, singing, smiling and most importantly, raising funds for our two fantastic charities, which is the over riding goal of our cycling adventures this year. But we were also so glad that everyone had enjoyed the epic morning of cycling and were walking away with big smiles on their faces, after a great workout and great achievements.

Sarah and I were on a high for the rest of the day. We had both smashed our original spinathon targets with Sarah averaging 19mph and covering 76 miles and I averaged 20mph and covered 80 miles in the 4 hours – great to see all of our training paying off. Just a shame on the rugby score 🙁 But at least our bits were fine after four hours in the saddle -bonus! 😊

And then a misty Sunday morning saw us on actual bikes for a recovery spin to Dawlish and back. Blue skies and sunshine greeted us in Dawlish and thoughts turned to summer days when we can cycle with just shorts and a jersey and leave all the winter weather kit behind!

This truly was an epic cycling week for us, nearly 150 miles covered and £660 raised towards our target of £5,000. We loved being able to spin out with such amazing people around us, a massive thank you once again to everyone involved – you are all super stars!!!!

Stats this week!
Miles ridden this week: 150!
Money raised to date: £860.00


Highs
Sam

Hitting the 80 miles in the Spinathon – 20.1mph average – LOVE IT!!!
Cycling with so many amazing and supportive people at the Spinathon and having Sarah by my side to share it with
Erdringer – I can’t drink alcohol after large training sessions, so a cold non alcoholic beer and crisps went down a treat!
Sarah
The spinathon – our first event and what a cracker. A brilliant turn out with almost all the bikes full for all 4 hours – wonderful to be spinning surrounded by friends and like minded DL members! Pumping music and a brilliant workout courtesy of the 4 DL PT instructors. Massive thanks to DL for helping us put on a super slick event. I was so happy with my performance on the day, I was hoping for an average of 19mph and that’s what I did. It was wonderful to feel the love and support in the room. A brilliant morning and some good money raised! A great start to our fundraising.

Lows
Sam

Stress levels – running around sorting all the last minute bits and pieces for spinathon, whilst nerves creeping in as well
FOMO – In work on Wednesday, knowing that Sarah had the day off so was out on her bike
Rugby score – I say no more!

Sarah
Realising that some of the spinathoners (people we don’t know) didn’t pay for their bikes for the spinathon. Apparently that’s quite normal according to the some of the DL staff – really?! Makes me a bit sad that people would sign up for a charity event and not contribute.





Spinathon! Hints and tips for Saturday.

Hello Spinathoners!

With our event fast approaching this post is just designed to give you a bit of last minute info about the set up, facilities and what you might want to bring with you on the day!

Non David Lloyd members!

If you’re arriving by car pull up to the barrier and press the buzzer and explain you’re a guest and reception will raise the barrier so you can get in.
You’ll need to do some paperwork on arrival so please allow extra time (10 mins?) to get into the club!
There are lockers available in the changing rooms, bring a padlock if you have one! If you don’t you can borrow one from reception – they’ll ask you for a card or car key (or such like) as a deposit.
The sessions will be starting promptly! If you haven’t been on studio bikes before please allow enough time so that you can come and set up and be shown how they work
As a non-member you’ll be allowed access to the basic facilities for the rest of the day – so bring your gym kit/swim kit/shower kit etc with you and make the most of it – massive thanks to the management team at DL for this!

Everyone! 

David Lloyd opens at 07.30 on Saturday. We’ll be there from then and if you want to arrive early and get a coffee (or help us set up) you’re very welcome!
Please, if you can’t make it let either Sam or myself know or call the DL reception on 01392-357240. Up until the day it’s possible we can fill your slot. We’d like to think if you can’t make it on the day you’d still be happy to make a donation as it’ll be too late to fill your space.
If you don’t know what slot you’re in for – again – drop me or Sam a line to call DL reception to check.
Please don’t forget your cash for the spinathon – it’s £20 for the 4 hours/£5 per hour (or more if you’d like – all the money is going to our charities -link)
Please allow enough time to get in and to set up your bike – we’ll be starting and any change over’s will happen promptly.
Bananas, jelly babies and various flapjack/cereal bars will be on offer but you might want to bring gels or other favourite bits of nutrition with you.
The bikes hold 2 water bottles – there will be people on hand to fill up water bottles for us!
We suggest you wearing cycling shorts, for your comfort (!) and maybe bring a sweat towel – there’s blue roll available if you forget.
The Chiefs are playing on the same day as our event which means the bar/restaurant is likely to be busy – whilst some of us will probably hang around and eat/have a drink at DL there’s likely to be a delay on food/queues. I personally will bring a protein shake and a snack to eat afterwards whilst I’m waiting for my order as I’m expecting to be pretty ravenous after 4 hours on the bikes.

Looking forward to seeing you all, we’re going to have lots of fun!

Much love, Sarah and Sam xox

Rest week = beers and some much needed time out.

This week was completely different to last week. Last week I was feeling amazing/strong and full of beans and this week I’ve been feeling knackered and with zero energy for most of the week. I seem to reach this point as we hit rest week!

After a heavy weekend of riding – and we did smash it a bit – I didn’t sleep much Sunday night. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes I get what I call a ‘busy body’ after an endurance session even though I’ve hydrated, eaten well and all the other things you should do after an epic ride. It’s annoying but I just feel restless and can’t settle and it’s a pretty frustrating and sleepless night. Hence I woke up feeling shattered Monday morning after little sleep and opted to stay in bed longer and not spin – not like me at all – but I’m getting better at knowing what I need to do for myself and given it’s a recovery week it was timely to pull back a bit. Sam smashed the session for us both that morning.

The rest of the week was the normal routine for us both and I was feeling more like myself by Thursday, pulling back on the weight and intensity was the plan for the rest of the weeks training – and adding 1 more rest day and dropping the longer ride on Sunday. Feels weird doing that. I need it but I don’t like it and I really have to battle within myself to not do anything on those extra rest days. We both cycled Saturday but did our own thing, it made more sense for us to both just get a ride in when we could rather than try to coordinate. Both of us hit headwinds and PBs on hills that morning – before heading out to enjoy time with friends and family and to let our hair down. Feels weird to have only seen Sam once this week!

We are looking ahead at another steady week as we’ve got the spinathon this Saturday and so we’re in the midst of final arrangement for the day, who’s in charge of the flapjack and snacks and other important things! We’ve got the odd hour sold available if you’re interested. I’m amazed how many crazy people want to join us for a 4 hour spin session! It’s going to be an epic – 75/80 miles on an indoor bike is going to be pretty tiring. David Lloyd have been brilliant in terms of letting us use their facilities and team to put this on, with all the money raised going to our charities. We really can’t thank them enough.

Other massive thank you’s this week go to South West Comms, The Terrace and Michael Spiers for donating some AMAZING auction and raffle prizes for our Spring Ball. I’m so blown away by how much support we’re getting.


We have 1 table lefts and some seats on a couple of other tables that aren’t quite full. If you’re interested in joining us on the 26th April, please let us know asap!

Sarah
Highs

A lay in on Sunday. No plans and no alarm. Utter bliss!
Smashing up West Hill and getting PBs all the way on Saturday, I think I’m finally cracking this hill climbing lark!
Being given amazing things to raffle and auction by amazing companies in the area – plus a super exciting meeting with our corporate sponsor. We’ve got some exciting plans, I just can’t share them just yet! 😉
Sam
PB on Mamhead (my favourite hill), even though my cleat slipped out of my pedal in the last bit
Getting recovery right – although still super tired, my recovery from weekend really paid off

Lows
Sarah
Not sleeping properly and feeling so wiped out at the start of the week. It’s made me realise I really need to make sure my diet is on point to give myself the best possible chance of decent energy levels.
Having to clean my bike after every ride, it’s so filthy on the roads the moment.
Sam
Head wind on Saturday – I was sure I had a puncture or something wrong with bike as was so tough cycling against it
Riding solo – amazing how much tougher it is riding on your own – missed the bike wife! Ha ha.

Funny moment.
Driving to David Lloyd on autopilot instead of going to a client meeting in the week. I pulled up at the car park at the gym and then suddenly realised where I was meant to be.