Angela Kirwin, 28, Dual Diagnosis Lead – HM Prisons, from London, won a place on Deloitte Ride Across Britain in Outdoor Fitness magazine. It will be her biggest cycling challenge to date.
After Dulux Trade London Revolution I felt physically strong. Slow, but strong. However, the knee pain and niggles I experienced over the weekend convinced me to finally get a bike fit with Bespoke Cycling.
I knew that the borrowed bike I was riding on was too big and expected at least a change of handle bars and stem but it quickly became apparent that tweaking the bike wouldn’t give me a good enough fit for the nine days on the road with Deloitte Ride Across Britain. I’d be risking injury or worse, not finishing, if I attempted LEJOG on this bike.
I therefore rolled out of the store with a brand new, perfectly fitted Specialized bike that I promptly took off on a 125-mile sportive. I really found my legs on this ride and although I’m a slow rider, I tackled Box Hill and the surrounding countryside with relative ease.
Finally, I am able to run again after six months of rehabbing my injuries. So the following weekend I took myself up to the Lake District to complete an ultra-marathon that saw me out in hail stone, wind and rain on the mountains for nine hours and bagged 4 UTMB points. Again, the muscle strength might not convert onto the bike but the mental stamina required to keep positive in the mountains should serve me well during Deloitte Ride Across Britain.
I had to return my borrowed bike back to it’s rightful owner and decided the best way to do this was to cycle. It looked like a fast, flat 85 mile route out of London north towards Bedford so I did very little preparation and didn’t bother getting the usual early night I do before long rides. That was a mistake: on this ride I discovered the hell that is headwind. The relative ease with which I’d climbed Box Hill the week before had swelled my ego. On this ride, I was certainly taught a lesson and reminded to respect the distance because the weather, the wind, the road and the hills can all affect the ride.
The following week I hit the gym with Coach Chevy Rough, planning to continue with the heavy lifting plan he has got me following to build strength. Thankfully, he quickly noticed that all these back to back endurance sessions had exhausted me. I was immediately put onto a rest week where I did yoga, swam, stretched, hiked and slept. It was just what I needed and has left me reinvigorated and excited for the final training push over the next five weeks. I’ve also started to look beyond Deloitte Ride Across Britain to see what I can do with my new found cycling fitness. I’ve always liked the idea of completing an unsupported Iron Man and I’ve had a friend approach me offering me a spot on a cycle across Africa.
But for now, I feel confident in my fitness, strength and stamina. I have a focused four week training plan and I’m happy with the progress I’m making.
The final few weeks will now all be focused on making sure I have the right kit. I’m concerned that I have none of the gear, and also very little idea so the next few weeks will be a huge learning curve in bike maintenance, kit buying and nutrition practice. Any advice or guidance would be very much appreciated! I’d hate to be fit enough to finish, only to have my kit fail me!
If you would like to donate, here is my JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/Angela-Kirwin1
Read about Angela and her reasons for entering Deloitte Ride Across Britain in her first blog post