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24 October 2012

Wild Ponies & Energy Gels: My 1st 40km Cycletta Ride

Start line game faceAttempting to make a game face.

Unless you've been ignoring me for the last six weeks, there is no way that you will have missed that I cycled in a 40k ride at a Cycletta event last weekend.

I've written about it for BitchBuzz - but I thought I'd explain a little more about my experience training and participating in a proper cycling event for the first time. 


Rather surprisingly, I stuck to my Victoria Pendelton-created, six week training plan like it was my new personal bible. There were days I didn't feel like training, and at times the thought of going to another spin class made my thighs whimper, but over-all, sticking to my training schedule was easy. Working out what to eat, on the other hand, was more difficult and something I'm still learning about.

During and after my rides I've come to love For Goodness Shakes "Procovery" drinks, as well as High5 Zero tablets that I add to my water for both spin classes and cycles to help keep me hydrated. But, other than that, the world of eating healthy  and - most importantly - eating intelligently for what I'm asking my body to do is a challenge. Mostly because I like cheese and bread. 

In many ways, the easiest part of training for an event like a Cycletta ride are the days where you get to put in an 1 - 2 hour ride on your bike. When you just need to get on your bike it's a piece of cake. Fitting in gym sessions around your work and social life is the bitch, but the key is you simply have to make training your top priority. I found plugging my training plan directly into my diary and working everything else around it was the only way I could hit all of my gym sessions. 

I also learned that you can talk to people at a pub without drinking. There were many times towards the last few weeks of my training that I sat in pubs holding a glass of water or cranberry juice, but you're not really missing much. It's much better to go out and have some will power rather than sitting at home.


The six weeks of training flew past, and before I knew it, I was in my taper week, and planning the logistics for how I would get me and my bike down to the New Forest became top priority. If your ride is far from home and you need to spend the night, I HAVE SOME ADVICE.

1) Make sure they have somewhere for your bike.

Call them and ask before, don't wait until you get there. Making a "special request" when you book online doesn't mean shit. Thankfully our room was big enough for my bike to sleep in our bed with us.

Photo (11)My beautiful Specialized Vita Comp

2) Make sure there's breakfast.

Obviously, you need to eat before your cycle, but also...

3) Makes sure they start serving breakfast before you need to leave.

The inn we were staying at didn't start serving breakfast until 8 - when we needed to leave. Make sure to ask about this if you're not staying at a chain hotel. If you don't, you'll end up having to drive to the local Tesco Express, panicking over what you'll eat the next day because your room doesn't have a fridge or a toaster.

You'll then decide that eating a cold bagel with nothing but crunchy peanut butter on it will be totally fine in the morning. (Husband: "Are you sure??" You: "Yeah totally! Don't worry!) The next morning, when you're nervous and your stomach already feels like you're going to poo your pants, you'll then be gagging and wanting to vom because you're eating an UNTOASTED CINNAMON & RAISIN BAGEL FROM TESCO EXPRESS IN THE CAR, rather than a lovely cooked breakfast or fresh porridge like you should be.

Getting your bike to the event can be a bit of a hassle, too, but thankfully we have a car. If you're driving your bike down, I highly recommend the Saris Bones 3 Bike Boot Rack - it was absolutley brilliant and my bike made it down to New Forest safe and sound.

Photo (14)Look ma! No hands! (Just bungies...)


Once we were at the venue, and I had stopped freaking out because I didn't bring enough safety pins to pin my number to my back (lo and behold, they had about 10 boxes of pins there. As would be expected) it was 5 minutes before my start time. 

However, I'm going to be real with you here, I desperately needed to poo. 

Poo is not something that us girls like to talk about, but let's be real here. If you need to poo before a cycle or a run, you damn well do it. Otherwise, ten minutes in, you're going to pull a Paula Radcliffe and it's not going to be pretty. 

Despite taking care of business before I left the hotel, between the nerves and the nerves, my bowels were ready to make some magic happen before my 9.15 start time. The lovely guy at the information desk informed me I could, indeed, start later, no problem. Little did he know why I was so relieved.

Just look at how happy I was!

Cate StartEverybody poops. But I especially poop before a big cycle.

So, shit aside, once I was at the start line, I was pretty excited. 

And once I started passing woman after woman after woman in the first 10 minutes, I was thrilled. I like passing people. Even better, once I passed people, I never saw them again. (Well aside from a group of women who thought they were Marianne Vos and were going so fast it made me cry.)

My mind went into a weird, euphoric state during my cycle. It was just me and my bike. All I paid attention to was my water intake, my pace, my time, my gears, traffic, and passing people. I also had a significant amount of snot dripping down my face, but that's beside the point. I felt like I was flying, and I knew that if I kept my pace up, I'd not only hit my goal of doing 40k in 2 hours - I would do better than that. 

My legs take a good 45 minutes to an hour to warm up and hit a really good pace. I don't know what it is, but I find the first 45 minutes of any ride the hardest. Once I get going, I go and I don't want to have to stop for anyone, or any pony. Yes. Pony. The ponies in New Forest literally do not give a FUCK. They don't give a shit about SUVs or cars, and they certainly do not give a shit about a girl on a bike with a tiny bell ding-dinging in its face. Luckily I never got stuck behind one because they would have completely fucked with my time. 

Photo (12)I'm a pony! Back the fuck up.

 Once I realized my time was going to better than I thought, I just kept thinking to myself, "Go, girl. Go." I know that sounds like some lame, cheap feminist mantra but seriously, I was just like GO GIRL, GO. YOU'RE DONG SO GOOD. GO. 

I came across the finish line at 1:49:36 - and I think I hit 40k somewhere around 1:45 as the route was officially 41.56km, but according to my Garmin Edge 500, it was closer to 43km. The fastest time of the event was roughly 1:33, so I'm really not all that slow, it turns out! 

Cate Finish face
Let's pretend I look like an Olympian, mmmkay?

Crossing a real live finish line, getting a medal, getting a fantastic time and achieving one of my goals was absolutely unbelievable. To say that I loved the event would be an understatement. I consumed an ENERGY GEL at a FEEDSTATION, you guys. That's how much I loved it, and that's how much I care about cycling, and cycling like a fucking bad ass.

Cate media board edit
That's  a protein recovery shake, in case you're wondering.

This entire experience has completely changed my life. It's changed how I view my body, my mind, and what I can achieve. I am a cyclist, now. I train. I spin. I get a sore ass and drink protein shakes and consume ENERGY GELS. 

I am the perfect example of why there is an Olympic legacy.

Photo (13)TEAM GB 4EVA

If I can do it, you most certainly can.

(Just please don't pass me. I hate that.)


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