Epic cycle ride undertaken by unfit, overweight, not middled aged lady

I visited Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in 2002. One of the things that really struck me about the countries was the indefatigable people, the welcome extended to visitors and the simple joy taken in small pleasures. But, having visited the Museum of the American War in Ho Chi Minh City, seen the 'Danger UXB' signs in Laos and read the good news headline in a paper in Cambodia: ' Deaths from UXBs down to 3 this month. Only 40 maimed.' I was acutely aware of the toll still being taken on the population.

Over the years I have pondered the munitions still there and this year I have finally decided to get off my bottom and do something. So I have, somewhat impetuously and with little regard for my physical fitness, cycling ability or dodgy left knee decided to join the MAG cycle ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ankor Wat. I will be doing this the first week or so in Feb 2011 and it does involve a couple of days of over 100km in 30 degree heat. Having signed up I have been told that neither a rickshaw nor an electric bikes are options and that doing the distance on my own pedals is expected.

Donation link is further down on the right - I have paid for my own flights and contributed enough to cover living expenses so all money raised from sponsorship will go to MAG.

This is my blog of my progress to get on the road and when I am there - assuming I will be capable of rational thought after a day of unaccustomed exercise.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Too much happening to blog...

Autumn Colour on the Lee Navigation
The last couple of weeks have been a tad eventful. We had the second wine tasting last Sat which raised more money towards my target and also involved a hubby home brew beer tasting. Amazingly two chaps managed to guess the right commercial beer that hubs was aiming for with each of the two brews; well they got one right each. Not sure whether this indicates that we know people who drink too much beer or that hub's home brew is spot on; possibly a bit of both...

Special bonus was that I managed to judge the hummus volume better this time and we have not spent a week eating the left overs. This is especially good for me since after the last tasting I soon realised that a high fibre and garlic diet was not compatible with several hours on a bike without any public conveniences...

Autumn Berries on the Cole Green Way
I have also discovered a few other things; one of which is when you are talking to a member of the professional biking community and they ask if you use baskets or clips the correct answer is not 'I have teal panniers'. And there was me thinking I had cracked the super biking stuff by mastering the gears!

Had to finally bite the bullet so Trusty Steed was dropped off at Marshalls bikes thirty mins or so ago. Explained to the nice man the litany of problems and there was a bit of head shaking and air being sucked in through the teeth. He has put Trusty Steed in the Intensive Care Unit and will be reporting progress throughout the operation tomorrow. Not sure I am too happy with his repeated promise to call 'if he finds anything major wrong' although this might have been caused by the fact that TS was caked to the eyeballs with mud as the towpath was a bit wet today...
The Evil Headless Goose of Ware

I have also decided that the Cole Green Way is safer at the weekend rather than the Lee Navigation as there are less Canada geese in a bread fueled frenzy either blocking the path with no sense of impending doom from an approaching cyclist or trying to peck your tyres.

I blame Mothers Pride :-)
The extra distance has not quite worked out as yet although I am managing the seven miles every other night on the exercise bike. Unfortunately this is leaving me with residual leg muscle ache and I haven't got further than the 18kms on the real bike, but I did the Cole Green Way again on Sunday (post wine tasting) and managed this distance even though most of the way out is uphill so I counted that as a victory. Hoping that the regular extra distance on the exercise bike will suddenly translate into a boost of stamina in a few weeks time

Sorry this post sounds a bit distracted; hubby has been expanding the music collection and when I started there was a polka rendition of 'The Wall', which didn't seem an obvious combination to me; however this has now moved onto Paranoid,  and, say what you like about 'Sabbath, but their natural rhythm really isn't polka related...

The fame continues - I was in The Star last week as well. I am checking copy write and hope to post the articles on my blog shortly...


Monday, 18 October 2010

Now Famous Wife

No piccies this week but it has been an interesting one. Hubby is referring to me as his 'Now Famous Wife' since my appearance (with photos) in both the Hertfordshire Mercury and the Hertford and Ware scene. The Mercury even sent over a professional photographer which was great and caused a bit of a stir in Tamworth Road last Tuesday- I thought one motorist was going to end up through the hedge to the allotments he was goggling so much.

I have also discovered that I can pay for my own airfare which will mean that all of the money I raise goes to MAG so I have had a very long call with Trailfinders as the internet websites don't really cater for open jaw tickets too well. They have come up with a bearable flight (only one change) that is not too expensive so my credit card will be taking a battering shortly :-)

And - training has gone well. 'Now Not Quite So Famous Hubby fitted the bike computer on Sunday. It didn't work initially but gave it a couple of judicious thumps (as a mechanical engineer I know you have to show these electronics who is boss) and it started clocking the kms. Hence have found out that my normal ride is a little over 18.5 kms. Which on the positive side is about 20% of the distance I need to go in a day, or there abouts.

Decided to up my exercise bike regime to 7 miles at a time (I have been mostly doing 5 miles every other night) and am hoping to be at 25kms a go by the end of October since I felt relatively ok when I finished on Sunday. Just need to get over the psychological barrier of getting to Rye House and knowing that I can get back from there without a heart attack on the way back.... or I could take a detour at the end and go around Hertford a bit. Anyhow, 23 kms is the aim for the Thursday ride which gives me about a week to get another couple of clicks on there.   Slightly disappointed at the lack of recognition on Sunday since the tow path seem to be very busy due to the good weather and I was hoping that there would be a few people lining up to give me a donation....

Fame has not changed me though and I am still doing my own shopping :-)

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Bike Bells

My favourite view - it means I am nearly home
Training finally seems to be going better. I am managing to do the ten mile stints three times a week (admittedly with one of those on the exercise bike) and an evening or so of five mile sprints (again on the exercise bike). As a result of this my legs are starting to ache within the first mile of each ride but I am hoping that as the muscles build up this will start to ease.

New Bell loving fitted by my own hand
Over the years our house has developed a system to address all DIY; I, as the trained engineer, am project manager while hubby provides the labour element. However, despite me adding all of the bike maintenance to hub's to do list there has been a slight lack of action. On Thursday I gave up and wielded the screwdriver myself, as a result of which I now have a bell, I worked out why one brake doesn't work (but need a piece to fix it) and my front reflector no longer has brewers droop. The new front light is now fitted but I am baffled as to where I fix the back light as the panniers get in the way and the bike stand is still wobbly since we do not appear to possess a socket wrench. I'm coming to the conclusion that I may have to bite the bullet and take it into the local shop for a full service; a little treat for the trusty steed after fifteen years in my possession with little more than a couple of squirts of WD40.

Having the bike bell has been a revelation; pedestrians seem to prefer the quick tinkle of a bell as opposed to a lady bearing down upon them shouting 'ding ding'. Previously some of the pedestrians have got a little shirty but now relations with those who amble along the tow path have improved, although not with the group of teenagers on Thursday who appeared to take exception to me shouting 'get out the way I am going downhill'. 

Planning to up the ante shortly on distance so fingers crossed that I can actually walk the next day.


Sunday, 3 October 2010


Not been a bad week training wise. Managed a couple of evening sessions on the exercise bike of 5 miles plus a trundle up the Cole Green Way on the real bike (without any incident this time) and 8 miles today on the exercise bike. Really need to get up to a 14 mile minimum now though so not quite going to plan but intend to do another 2 miles today to round it off to at least double figures. There is a bit of benefit analysis involved as I do need to be able to walk the next morning for work and I have a nasty feeling that if I push into too high a double figure I will be requiring motorised assistance to go anywhere.
Strange Sheep for Hertfordshire

Came to a horrible realisation on the Cole Green Way; I was biking along, happily listening to Gardeners Question Time and it occurred to me that I might be middle aged. As you can imagine this was a bit of a shock so quickly switched to some obnoxious rock music. Sadly, given that said music dated from the '90s, then concluded that it just condemned me even more. Then cheered myself up as I decided that proper middle aged ladies don't cycle along with their Ipod stuffed in their bra (lack of appropriate pockets) and so I didn't fit the expected decorum levels and therefore I could not be middle aged.

Reached the quarry (somewhere near Welwyn) and overtook the JCB that was driving along the edge which was a new overtaking experience and one I celebrated by stopping to get my breath back once I had rounded a corner and was no longer in view.

The exercise bike is proving to be a real godsend as I can get in a few miles most evenings and I figure that anything is better than nothing. But, we have been invited to a get together of MAG cyclists in early November so it is dawning on me that I might actually be expected to cycle the distance. Methinks a review of the suggested training plan from MAG and a bit of pulling out of fingers may be in order over the next few weeks, whether it leaves me unable to perambulate or not.