Will Cleats Help Me To Cycle Faster?

My second full week of training for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and this week I’ve managed 7 sessions on my bike totalling over 63km (39.5 miles). Undoubtedly the most strenuous outing was the 28km round-trip to take part in the Fulham Palace Parkrun. That entailed cycling up Wimbledon Hill (a 35m climb according to Endomondo) on the way there and same elevation on the way back albeit a somewhat gentler incline when the hill is approached from Putney!

The other major event of the week was the fitting of cleats to my ageing bike by the excellent CyclIMG_0076e Power of Worcester Park. After a brief lesson from Mark inside the shop, I embarked om my first ever cycle with my feet ‘nailed’ to the pedals. I have to say that I haven’t really ridden enough to come to any conclusions yet on the benefits or otherwise of having cleats fitted. For those that are interested I will report in later blogs on whether I think they are worth the effort (and the cost!)

I have however already had the inevitable situation where I couldn’t get either of my feet off the pedals at a stop on the way to Fulham and found myself unceremoniously dumped onto the road surface causing considerable distress to the driver behind me. No real harm done – just a grazed knee – more wounded pride than anything else.

I have now had a chance to examine in detail the 16-week schedule I plan to follow in 3 weeks time. It doesn’t mention distances – it is purely time-based. In essence it involves cycling every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday rising from 1 hour sessions in the first week to a 5-hour ‘marathon’ on the Sunday of the penultimate week. The Tuesday and Thursday rides are often interval sessions and there are regular 1-hour tests to measure improvement. I hope that is enough to get me round on the day – we shall see!

Finally, the fundraising seems to have stalled somewhat this week. So if you’re reading this and haven’t donated to Prostate Cancer UK via JustGiving please ‘dig deep’ and make a pledge. Please bear in mind that:

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
  • Over 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year – that’s 130 men every day.
  • Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer – that’s more than 11,000 men every year.
  • 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Over 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.

Thank you for reading.


First Week’s Training Over – Just 20 To Go!

IMG_0067It is just over a week since I decided that I would cycle 100 miles on 30th July this year for Prostate Cancer UK. During the week this magazine arrived and I found out, for the first time, that there’s a ballot for the non-charity places. I had no idea more people than London/Surrey could accommodate actually want to punish themselves by cycling 100 miles including going up Box Hill!

The magazine offers three 16-week training sessions – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. I will probably end up doing the Intermediate plan (13 hours cycling in the penultimate week!) but I’m glad that I don’t have to make that decision yet. I will see how the next four weeks go.

This week I have managed six outings on my bike totalling just over 61 kilometres. Only one of them (11k) was a proper training session where I pushed myself relatively hard and just about achieved an average speed of 20kph which would result in an 8 hour finish (30 minutes inside the race deadline). This, of course, assuming I could keep up that pace for 8 hours given the hills and other possible hold-ups. It was, if I needed one, a massive wake-up call regarding just how much I was going to have to train over the next 20 weeks. The last thing I want is to be worried about time when I do the race. I want to be able to stop for a comfort break, refreshments and any necessary repairs or adjustments to my bike without then thinking that I might not make the 8 hour 30 minute deadline.

I am giving serious consideration now to getting cleats fitted to my pedals and buying myself proper cycling shoes. I intend to spend this week researching how much a set of cleats and a pair of cycling shoes cost and how easy or otherwise it would be to fit the cleats myself. I think it would be wise to get all this sorted before the training begins in earnest as I would want to be struggling to lock or unlock my feet from my peddles before the seriously long rides kick in. If you’re reading this and have cleats on your own bike and better still fitted them yourself, I’d be grateful for any advice you make have.

I plan to submit something to this blog every week about how I’m getting on in training. I will also mention every week my JustGiving page where you can donate to my chosen charity!

Thank you for reading.

Not Quite the Tour de France…

So what do you do for a fresh challenge if you’re a semi-retired 61 year-old and reasonably fit for your age? After-all I’ve run the 26.2 miles of the London Marathon more than once for various causes close to my heart and cycled the 50 odd miles from London to Brighton for the British Heart Foundation. My last marathon run however was in 2006 and the Capital to coast cycle was even longer ago in 2002 so I really wasn’t looking for something too strenuous.

So what motivated me you may ask, when one of those annoying charity adverts popped up in my Facebook timeline, to click on it and immediately enter myself to cycle for the charity Prostate Cancer in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100? (Yes – the 100 stands for the number of miles!) The simple answer is that I don’t really know!

I haven’t cycled more than 4k to my local park, where I do running interval training, and back for many months. In fact my bike will almost certainly need major repairs or parts replacing in the coming months if I’m to drastically increase the weekly mileage on it. In addition to that, although I jog regularly and walk the dog pretty much every day I’m definitely not ‘cycle fit’. I am only too aware that riding a bike might use the same muscles as running and walking but not necessarily in the same way. Finally in this paragraph about mechanical and physical fitness for the task, I don’t have a gel seat cover anymore either so any cycle lasting for over an hour is highly likely to make me saddle sore (Sorry – too much detail there perhaps!)

Why for the charity Prostate Cancer UK? Last month my GP sent me for a PSA blood test. That brought it home to me that I’m at that time of life when men are particularly vulnerable to the disease. I suppose seeing the advert touched a nerve in my head and motivated me to raise money for them.

Whatever the motivation and however hard it is going to be to do it – I’m in. I found out today that all competitors have to finish in under 8 hours 30 minutes and as Box Hill is on the route that makes it a real challenge!

If you’ve been patient enough to read this far and haven’t sponsored me yet you can do so here on JustGiving.

I will be updating that page from time to time with details of training sessions and on here with my thoughts on my progress.