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, 18 November 2010

Happiness.... is a padded bottom :-)

The padded cycling leggings have been a revelation - on the serious upside the padding relieves quite a bit of saddle pain in your.... well let's say nether regions and leave it at that... the downside is that when you get off and walk you adopt a stance somewhat like John Wayne in a nappy. I am also having a bit of a sizing issue: the cycling has meant that my legs have become somewhat thinner but has had little affect on my torso area and whoever designed these did not have in mind a woman with a profile of toffee apple (on a stick....).

Great ride today (Hoddesdon and back then a few turns round Hartham Common) - been just over 25kms and only came in because I was starting to get cold, so, 25% there on distance and feeling ok. Will aim for 30kms at the weekend or possibly two days of 25kms and see where I get to with it but the short bursts of frantic cycling on the exercise bike most nights seems to be the right training strategy for me. I do need to devise some different routes as getting a little bored but listening to podcasts whiles away quite a lot of the monotony. For those of you into Kermode I will be saying 'Hello to Jason Isaacs' while on my trip...

Will be working out the injections needed for Vietnam and Cambodia and booking in with the doc, so next week I will mostly be a pin cushion. Hopefully it will not be as bad as when I ran out of time before a trip and had typhoid, cholera, polio, japanese encephelitus and rabies all in one go then spent three days wrapped in a duvet about 2 inches from the gas fire because I couldn't stop shivering. To be fair the doc did express some qualms before administering but I believe I told him to stop being a wimp and get on with it which, with hindsight, might not have been the best decision.

No proper piccies but me as I now appear on the work intranet
No piccies this week due to serious camera malfunction.... battery is dead. Bit of a pity as weather good today and some fantastic scenes of the trees with the last few leaves clinging onto them but perhaps I can catch them at the weekend. Assuming I can find the charger :-)

Managed to get me, my bike and a few words on the company website and already had the promise of a donation so well impressed with that one. Although I am not sure my colleagues will look at me in the same light. Sponsorship is still going well and I am really grateful as so many people have donated. But still a bit short on the minimum level of cash plus I want to get as much in as possible given that I am unlikely to ever do anything like this again so we are also planning a party in Jan for a joint birthday/please give a fiver to MAG event. Details will be coming through shortly.

That's about it for this week


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Completely inspired....

Podged up to Manchester on Saturday for a MAG briefing and was surprised to be on the train meeting the oldest person on this years cycle ride who happened to have booked the seat next to me. Coincidence is a funny thing!

Lunch is Served
As Vito appears to have little shame she went round keeping a book on what age everyone is and there is a span from 22 to 73... I was just relieved that there was someone doing it who was older than me as I thought I would be surrounded by young, fit, cycling blokes.... In fact I was rather looking forward to it :-)

There was a number fitting that description but I was relieved to see that I am probably average age for the group. I am also not the only one whose training is not going well as there were a few who aren't getting as far as me including the chap who hasn't actually got on his bike as yet.

The  briefing did bring it home to me that it was actually going to happen and I do need to step up a gear on the training although praise be that they showed the profile of all the hills and there is nothing over 20 metres to climb...

Talking brass tacks (and sore bottoms)
Training this week has not gone badly - the Thursday ride was a little truncated due to gale force winds (I may be mad to decide to do this challenge but I am  not completely insane) so I ended up on the exercise bike doing 16 miles - the longest yet. Today has been 7 miles so far but intend to do a few more after finishing the blog as I got diverted this afternoon by more important stuff - I went shopping for clothes for the event. After several hours at the Galleria I now have various travel shirts, zippy trousers and some padded legging things - plus a cycle helmet as they have been quite clear on the fact that I cannot ride without it. Bah.

Not quite got round to actually purchasing the cycling shorts yet as am still mentally scarred from the sight of myself in spandex from the '80s but I think it will have to be done.... maybe over Christmas....I did work out that I needed to buy ladies cycling shorts as the gents are not anatomically padded to fit someone of my - ahem - stature....

That's about it


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Red Riding Hood aka Fluorescent Yellow Riding Buff ...

All feeling a bit more hopeful about my ability to stay the course. I did 20kms on Thurs along the tow path then another 20kms today along the 
Barn ... the Slaughtered Lamb is just round the corner
roads and back today, all supplemented by 5-8 miles a night on the exercise bike (except Tues and Fri as we were out). On Thursdays ride had a very nice man doff his cycle helmet to me as I pedaled past so nice to see the old manners still extant.... Although today had the interesting experience of waving frantically at a man who looked exactly like my husband in a car exactly like ours which drove past me while I was taking a breather at Hertford Heath. When I spoke to hubby he denied all knowledge of ignoring me and stated that it must have been doppleganger that also happened to be driving back from the archery field at the same time since he must have missed me by several minutes :-)

A bit of mud on Ermine St
Todays ride was a bit of an experiment as I have got a little bored with the tow path and Cole Green Way and thought I would expand my horizons. I cycled out into the countryside on the roads intending to meet up with a bridleway on the line of an old Roman Road (Ermine St). After a couple of close encounters with Range Rovers and the like where I ended up taking refuge in the ditch, multiple stops to consult the OS map plus my bike getting stuck in the quagmire on the Roman road I decided that it was not particularly successful. This was compounded by getting back and finding I had only done 12 kms so ended up circling various bits of Hartham Common overtaking one particular dog walker 5 times which may end up with me being labeled as a bit of a nutter... Despite the mud it was pretty and I did get to see some of the farmland around Hertford albeit that I did keep thinking of 'American Werewolf in London' for some reason.

Slightly pink after 12 kms (mostly uphill and muddy)
But the big news is that after the ride today I still had enough energy to do a further half an hour on the Wii Fit rather than having to limp upstairs and have a sleep in the bath... so - next weekend target is 25kms.

Going up to Manchester next Saturday for the briefing at MAG and to meet the others who will be doing the ride (around 32 this year). As I will have to share a room with someone I will be putting on the charm and not necessarily  be mentioning that I tend to talk in my sleep, especially after late night cheese. Hubby also alleges that I snore but I think that is complete tosh and he is just hearing the echo of his own. As always sharing a room with me should be considered a privilege and I am sure I can convince my new roomie of this :-) Especially since I am Now Famous...


Thursday, 4 November 2010

20kms achieved!

Trusty steed was returned on Sat after intensive surgery and it was well worth it. Riding out on Sunday was a revelation: when changing gears there was no longer a crunch, crunch then lack of any motive power for half a pedal space or so. Consequently I hit the determination button and decided to do 20kms. There was some sort of space/time continuum problem on the ride though as while I did 10kms and turned round on the way back I had only clocked 19.7 kms when I got home but a couple of turns round the block soon sorted that one and the goal of 20 was achieved. So, can now do 20% of the daily ride for once I am out there...and as I have now booked our flights (Trailfinders were fantastic) I feel I have definitely passed the point of no return.

The exercise bike has come into its own this week as I have done 5-8 miles (approx 7.5 - 12 kms in new money) every night except Tuesday. As I seem to be struggling to put on distance I thought that a few weeks of intensive, nightly training at a 5-10 mile distance might help to increase the stamina and at this point I am a bit desperate since I should be up to 30kms a ride.

Following a good talking to delivered by a lady that knows her bike stuff I have purchased some toe clip things and will be trying them out at the weekend. As a slight geek I can appreciate that they should help on the distance since you will be gaining some motive power from the upswing on the pedal as well as the down but I am not convinced they won't make me crash and burn. As a bit of a beginner with this sort of stuff I have got the ones that you are supposed to be able to slip your foot in an out of easily rather than the sort that has you nailed to the pedal but given my ability to fall over with no assistance (ie not alcohol induced) I still think that this is a dangerous idea.

My knees are a bit of a worry since they have locked up a couple of times, luckily not when I am on the bike and it is now both of them rather than just my left knee. So, I have decided that a couple of nice neoprene knee supports are in order. This has a double gain since hubby has mentioned that he would like to see me in a rubber outfit so I will be off to Boots this morning and making his dream come true later; well the knee bit of me anyhow.

Fundraising is going well with a number of generous donations over the past couple of weeks but I am fast approaching the deadline of the 19th November and have several hundred left to go. Pursuing a few ideas to boost the total and am on line to get the minimum amount although maybe not by the deadline; I feel a bit of fast talking with MAG coming on :-)

Will be out on the bike later going for over 20kms down the tow path and will let you know how I get on.