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Seize the day, not the back

Funnily enough, riding a multi-day ride might mean multi-day training

Lying awake in the small hours of Easter Sunday, unable to find a position comfortable enough to sleep, my back aching, my neck hurting if I moved my head to the left, it occurred to me that completing the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in September will depend on more than simply developing leg power.

This weekend’s training ride taught me a few things: Yes! I can still ride 100 miles in a day! No, it’s not the best idea to only leave the house at 11.30am when you’re aiming to ride 100 miles at less than 14mph average speed and you haven’t packed any proper lights. And… I really, really need to do some stretching/pilates/yoga/something/anything to stop my body seizing up.

Up until now I’ve been mostly worrying about not being able to do the mileage in the time ‘allowed’. I don’t want to travel to Scotland in a broomwagon… 

And training has been going well: cycling 12-13 miles a day, three or four times a week, into and out of work – taking in a big, long, steep, nasty hill on the way home – plus one long ride at the weekend. One day of the weekend devoted to bike training, one day to ‘other commitments’…

Rosie and Izzy.JPG

Back in February, I just about doubled my January mileage in the first week of the month. And since then, our weekend distance (I’m doing the RAB with my husband, Simon) has been creeping up steadily, until, a fortnight ago, we hit 50 for the first time. It felt like a real achievement. “How do you fancy another 50 now?” we joked.

Then just a week later, Simon said he’d like to have a go at riding up Cheddar Gorge. I’d ridden it before as part of the excellent Bike Bath sportive – it’s not that far from where we live – so on that lovely hot weekend at the start of April, off we went, and upped our distance to nearly 75. (Note to fellow RABbers: Cheddar Gorge, on day two, is eminently doable – just a little steep corner in the middle to overcome.)

That ride taught us something else too – how, if you’re going to sizeably increase your mileage, you need to sizeably increase your fuel intake. Handily, Cheddar Gorge has the odd eatery here and there, and a bacon sandwich and scrambled egg on toast at the Edelweiss Cafe stopped us bonking until we got home. (Phnaar, phnaar.)


Then Easter, with all its lovely bank holiday days off, loomed, coinciding with the return of our darling dog-sitting daughter. Time to see if we could hit 100 – and maybe get back on the bike the next day, or day after…

Well, we managed the first bit. A lovely ride down the Wylye Valley, with an all-too-frequently-missing tailwind assisting us, taking in a late lunch at Wilton (lesson from Cheddar learnt, beans on toast at the bike-friendly Coffee Darling), then completing the loop home mostly into a headwind (of course), via Stourhead and Longleat, plus a quick spin up and down the lane to top up the Garmin, which had been measuring 99.4 as we reached the sign for our village.

Phew. We’d done it. Darling daughter had even cooked tea.

What we didn't do was any stretching… Recovery drink, yes; shower, yes; delicious recovery meal, yes. Massage? Erm, nope. 

“How do you fancy doing that again tomorrow, then?”

“My back hurts.”


“My neck hurts.”

Now, with the Dulux Trade London Revolution looming on 13-14 May (there are still a few places left, if you fancy a two-day ride around the capital, camping at Windsor on the Saturday night – see here for details), I’m thinking it’s time to stop worrying about distance and get some back-to-back action going on. With a bit of pilates in between.

Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.

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allez1984 | 7 years ago

This year will be my second LR and I really want to do RAB. I recently did my first 'Solo 100' and the next day managed to climb on the turbo trainer for a short recovery spin. Like you I didn't do any stretching so I really felt it. At least with LR there are plenty of mats and foam rollers pins so there is no excuse to not have a stretch off at base  camp.  

check12 | 7 years ago
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Foam roller and British cycling foam roller routine I find is helping keep stuff loose. 

RobD | 7 years ago
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I definitely recommend stretching the day before a big ride, usually in the evening an hour or so before bed, seems to give my body a chance to relax properly and sort itself out a little before the ride, then only needs a bit of stretching afterwards (I tried it in the morning before a ride once and it didn't seem to work half as well).  And planks, holding a plank position or a side plank for 1-2 minutes once or twice a day really seems to make a difference to the aches in the back and neck as there's more support from the rest of your body.

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