Countdown to TAW , & my training/fun leading up to it!

Hey all! This is long overdue, I know. But the perfect thing to do as I leave to travel to the next race! #ineedtostopprocrastinating

More cycle times = more coffee & cake times. Yes.

Back on the road, aw yeah!

My next event:

The 'Trans Atlantic Way' kicks off 10:30am 6th June from Dublin, it will be approximately 2500km long, and is a self-supported race with only 2 check points.
Firstly we self-navigate to Londonderry in the north, then follow a set route around every piece of gorgeous, bumpy and wet western Irish coastline until Kinsale in the south.

In summary, TAW is:

  1. Shorter than the other self-supported ultras, which often means pace is higher/people sleep less
  2. Very hilly, around 50,000m ascent of constant undulations
  3. Strewn with bad weather - strong winds and constant rain is the mainstay of play
  4. Supposed to be nails.

Technically my 2nd ever event, and this time I don't have a torn meniscus to give me an excuse to 'go steady', so we'll see how it goes...! Ahh!
Track us live on:

Coffee & beans should get me through!

Training - what have I done?

..."Training" = 2 months of excuses for fun long rides :D

I'm now on a GP training programme in Sheffield, so need to dedicate more time to career and my actual 'training'. It started off quite tough as I was thrown into 6 months of A&E. Some runs were multiple weeks of 65 hours. Rarely there would be a 15 day stretch of 9-10h shifts with only 1 day off in between. Half of the rota was 10h night shifts. Anyway, moaning over this finished in FEBURARY - perfect!
Now being placed in a GP practice has meant I have evenings and weekends to actually meet people in my new city and train longer on the bike!

2nd woman in Anglesey half!
A new PB of 1h 24

I started with a few half marathons because I miss running. Through an insane jump in fitness thanks to getting into endurance cycling, my PB was smashed by 7 minutes without being able to train much due to injuries, apparently giving me access to London marathon next year (pretty exciting!).
Anyway after that brief running detour, I did my first audax/ proper long ride of the year on 31st March and planned to do so most weekends from then.
I also hoped to do at least 2 faster and hilly rides during the week of 30-40miles, and/or some hill reps to TRY to get a bit of speed and power work in (which is my huge weakness!).

Weekend itinerary of long rides:

1) 31st March - Red Roses Audax - 200km

  • First 200km of 2019, not yet bike fit, tried to keep up with fitter guys (yes, Sam)
  • Didn't eat enough, headwind for the 100km heading East back = massive struggle. 
  • Told everyone to leave me as I floundered slowly with heavy lead legs until I found a shop and ate everything in site! Still, fun day!

Some audaxers recognised and wanted photos with me! "Are you the Dr that cycled America?!"  Pretty cool!

2) 5-7th April - TransEngland Trial - 320km, 5600m ascent

  • Absolutely mental.
  • Again, not done many 'long' rides yet, I'd wanted to do another 200km - unfortunately the audax was fully booked...
  • Got a nudge from someone doing this crazy gig, which I was heavily opposed to:

#Transengland19 by The Racing Collective:
    • start Friday 8pm from Morecombe Pier
    • self-route between 5 points across Northern England
      • Forest of Bowland -> Yorkshire Dales -> North York Moors
    • Finish at Scarborough

  • After a full day of work, effectively cycle coast-to-coast without sleep, then prescribe people drugs on a Monday morning? Errm no. #sensibledoctor
  • Out of nowhere I was rota'd monday as an 'off'/personal study day...

Well hello Morecambe!
  • The most crazy single ride I have ever done.
  • They make the 'checkpoints' ridiculous (random landmarks like a sign where you must tweet a timestamped photo as proof), to try and break you:
    • aka the top of moorland-damn-nowhere, where the quickest route would be 10km of uphill sand and rubble, or you could add 20km+ to your route to go around via road...
    • Up a 25% hill to an old church just to go down again
    • Across every 'classic' infamous climb, totally unknowingly. My particular favourites were the constant 25/30% climbs of the North York Moors by mile 170+
    • The final checkpoint: Robin Hood's Bay beach - after dropping 200m from the hill-top road, passing a 25% sign, then a nice 30% down to the beach. I then had to go back the way I came. Well, I probably didn't, but my route was awful!

Up then back down the renowned  'Fleet Moss' hill, just for a photo of this bad boy

Again, and again, and again 

SUNRISE, I actually get to see some of the Dales <3 

  • The point of this thing is not only endurance fitness, or mental grit, but the strategy involved in route-planning. Deciding to do it ON the week, and expecting to throw a route down in an hour, only 48h before was probably my main mistake!
  • Despite some silly route choices with more miles and hills than it seems everyone else, Mrs stubborn over here managed to be 1 of only 12 riders to get to the finish! :D Took me 18h 43min total. Including the hour spent hopelessly running up and down sand (ha ha). To be honest, I actually did find it all quite hilarious.

Whoop whoop! No more hills!

3) 13th April - Everybody rides to Skeggy audax - 300km

  •  Knew no one doing this, but turned up to the start control point at a stupidly early hour, after driving past all the 'youths' still on their nights' out. How our lives have changed, ha ha! Instantly I was welcomed into a group of riders by an audax legend (herself a GP!), called Anne.

  • Had a lovely and FLAT (wow, I thought that word had been lost from my vocab), day around Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Amazing how quickly you can cover such distance when there are no hills and you've got people to ride and shelter with!
  • Also met lovely Debs who is soon to partake in an epic challenge I've created... muwahah (stay tuned!)

4) 18-20th April (Easter) -Think Hike Bike - 500km Charity Challenge across Spain

Paz, 2nd on the left 

  • This 3 day challenge from Gijon on the beautifully verdant north coast of Spain, to Madrid was the brainchild of my best friend, and soul mate, Sonia Barrar.
  • She is growing her own 'NGO' called Think Hike Bike, which organises such activities in the name of raising funds for different causes: in this case, a Spanish Sarcoma charity.
  • The ride was a tribute to the late Paz Arrabiata, an incredibly spirited and passionate woman, and cyclist, who sadly passed away from Sarcoma (rare type of cancer)

Lovely steady 15 miles of up!

(she honestly is crazier than me)

5) 4-5th May - Brian Chapman DIY - 600km 

End-to-End-to-End of Wales!

ANOTHER bank holiday weekend? Why, what new adventure can I have now?!

Yeaaaah... you beaut!

  • This classic audax route had been knawing away at me for roughly 1 year exactly: it was 1 year ago when I set off on a variation of this with Rachel and Ali, and ended up with a torn meniscus and my dreams of doing the Trans Am Bike Race almost also torn to shreds 
  • I decided to indulge in some 'me' time, across the stunning Welsh hills, and practice with my dynamo lights set up and my bags a little bit loaded.

Sunrise in the Brecon Beacons, ahh! 

  • I learned some useful lessons, including:
    • I suffer severe heartburn/regurgitation (sorry for the squeamish amongst you!), and need to seriously alter my intake before and during the ride! Sadly this probably means no coffee. Oh... my...
    • Trying to avoid snapping my gear cables so much (aka changing gears less!) means more stress on the knees. But, you need your knees. Knees are useful. They hurt quite a bit near the end of the 400 miles, so erm, I may have to sacrifice a cable for the race!
    • North Wales is still absolutely gorgeous! Although the route doesn't touch much of S Wales to be honest.

Beautiful barmouth

6) 12th May - Fred Whitton Sportive - 113miles, 3900m

Hardknott? Hard? Not!! (ha... ok maybe it was a little tough)

  • The classic Lake District challenge and Britain's (apparent) FIRST ever sportive
  • Again, no one I knew had got into the ballot or wanted to do it on the event day, but despite this, I had the most INcredible day!! :)
  • Speaking to fellow riders from around the country constantly as you pass each other, and chilling at the end/catching up with those you met along the way
  • Nothing but glaring sunshine the whole day
  • Gear cable snapped. But in the last 5km. It's ALL ok. ;)
  • I felt super strong! Perhaps all this riding is having an effect already :D

Charlotte, very strong rider from London - her first Ironman this year - best of luck C! 

Never let the hill beat you!!

7) 25-26th May - Kit practice & classic hills in Yorkshire Dales - 400km  ~6200m

Quick, 1 minute of sun! Photo photo!

  • An amazing new event called 'All Points North' was being run this BH weekend by Angela Walker - a tough 1000km self-routing ride between 10 checkpoints in the north. Again with the 'sensible' Dr stuff, AND with it only being 10 days before the race of my year, I opted for my own northerly trip

A few weeks after the TransEngland Trauma, back to the highest pub in England!

  • I'd planned to do 200km days 'fully loaded' - to practice with a weighted bike, and all the kit for the race. I also wanted to practice being a hardcore (because I'm actually not) and bivvying out wherever I found, on the Saturday night.
  • Finally, I love hills, and there are SO many classics I've not done, so I thought I'd route between 6 of the top climbs in the country. Whilst carrying books in my bags in case I had spare time to read, too. Naturally.

  • So erm, it may not be a surprise to the sane amongst you, that I may have been a little silly. Approx 10-12kg of extra weight, up hills of 20-25%, in some rough weather, is actually really hard going!! I was extremely slow, and my knees and back really started to hurt on the constantly steep hills...

I also found free shelter! So still not hardcore... damn!

Ribblehead viaduct

Just beyond Malham Cove 

  • Great Dun Fell hill reaches 860m, and has a few kicks of 20%. The winds reached 50mph in the top metres of this climb, and mountain rescue were collected on the top due to some hypothermic runners. My bike physically got lifted off the road in the wind. It was all a bit crazy.
    • I met two riders doing the APN event though, which was cool!
    • "Are you doing APN too?" Says a guy shaking behind his bike unable to move for the wind. Me: "oh no, I'm just up here practicing with luggage!" ...

To the present moment

Well bravo if you've made it past all that frantic waffle. I really have had an ace time, despite juggling the above with passing my first year as a GP trainee, and trying to still run, climb and have friends ( ha ha).
I'm now raring to go, I hope, for Thursday.
Pray for me!

Thanks for the interest guys, and thank you to help from the following brilliant companies:
  • Vaaru Cycles
  • JE James Cycles
  • Rapha

See ya on the road! X


  1. Can't believe how many ridiculous rides you've done this year already 😂

    That coast to coast hard-core version has piqued my interest though.....

  2. Beginning is always hardest be happy and enjoy your self
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