On Saturday afternoon I went to a friends wedding and had the chance to sit next to someone I haven’t seen in a few years. Bearing in mind the joys of social media, he turned to me and said “you have become obsessed with cycling – what’s happened? Last time I saw you, you had just bought a bike or fallen off your bike, one or the other, I can’t remember”.
This comment sums up my relationship with my bike pretty well. I was persuaded to buy my first road bike prob 3 or 4 years ago. Since then I have managed to fall off three times but all fairly dramatically – my first a very simple right hand turn that went horribly wrong ending in a broken wrist, the second a collision with the barrier on the hairpin of white down lane (resulting in the nickname hairpin Helen) and the 3rd recently with bumping into the back of a car as I slowly made my way down box hill on a traffic heavy Sunday morning and having a scare that I may have re-fractured my wrist (thankfully all good).
This year the relationship with my bikehas been more intense and more enjoyable!In March I signed up to ride from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) http://virginmoneygiving.com/team/Pedalstudio. 969 miles in 9 days and 42,000ft – elevation that is twice the height of Everest. Why? I have absolutely no idea why I thought this would be a good plan! I tell you whether it was or not at the end of September!
I am a part time spin instructor and in the process of riding more outside the spin studio I have met some great friends and been reminded time and time again of how brilliant a social activity cycling is. Training for this event has required some serious focus and commitment from me and also from what seems like the equivalent of an Olympic athlete’s support team* who look after me… enter the Department of Endurance.
Pat and Ben (and the best one of the three – Frank the dog) have recently opened the Department of Endurance in Parsons Green and I jumped at the opportunity to support the guys and become a founding member. So far this has enabled me to utilise the following services so far…
· Guru Bike fit – I have quite a large anterior tilt to my pelvis and I work hard on maintaining some stability and alignment with regular Pilates and chiropractic sessions (more on that later) so I know I am never going to be super aero in my positioning as my back just doesn’t do that. What I also know however is that with the Guru bike fit I can try different positions in an ‘opticians style’ testing environment “better now or before, better with or without” and go through a rigorous fit which is all automated (I’ve always been a bit sceptical of other fitting methods where they are reliant on the placement of small black dots). Once you have found YOUR optimal position everything can be transferred to your bike
o First ride out gave me a Richmond Park personal best
· New saddle – as part of the bike fit and in response to my complaints of some discomfort it was suggested that I try some new saddles – specifically aimed at helping me rotate my pelvis into a neutral position for riding.I tried one saddle – it gave me lower back pain within 20 mins of riding – definitely not the one for me, I tried a second which was better but not sofa comfort level I was looking for and on the 3rd we also changed the saddle angle and it’s amazing the difference. I felt like a bit of a difficult customer, returning and saying “nope, no good” but the Department of Endurance have over 50 saddles to try and they are focused on helping you choose the right one. It does attract a few looks but I now ride with a SMP
o First ride out with the new saddle smashed my park PB I had just set post bike fit
· New pedals – I had been riding with single blade look keo pedals for about 4 months and even though I have never had one of those unfortunate incidents with cleats I just wasn’t comfortable with them. There was extra cortisol as a result of every ride and I decided with 9 days ahead of me and a lot of stopping and starting it was time for a change. Ben recommended speedplay zeros and I love them (also managed to get them in green to match the bike – always a bonus!)
o Completed Prudential Ride London in 4.48and I didn’t have to unclip 200m before every hazard as a result of being scared of not being able to!
· Bike service and wheel upgrade – I asked Pat whether the servicing side was up and running and who the mechanic was. He replied “the mechanic is one of the best in London…it’s Ben”. I’ve had very poor experiences in several shops with bike servicing until I gave it to Ben so I would tend to agree with that sentiment! Don’t be worried if your bike looks like it’s been licked clean – that’s Frank!
o Getting stronger and stronger and I’ve just ridden 450 miles in 9 days, maintaining my average speed as the days progressed, as training for LEJOG
Part of my responsibility at work includes managing the analytics team….I’m not stating causation between the help I have received from the Department of Endurance and my improve performance but there is a definite link in my mind 😉
Thanks guys x
*Massive thanks to the other members of my support team – without whom I couldn’t even contemplate cycling the length of the country. I feel stronger and fitter than I ever have and it’s down to their hard work and guidance.
Kirsten Cloete – chiropractor
Ryre Lee Cornish – nutritionist
Alice Monger-Godfrey – osteopath
Bonia – Pilates instructor