This blog has always been about documenting my journey from nothing to well, something (something which hopefully turns in to ultra-cycling success)…so as part of that I use it as a way to reflect on the journey and share some of the things that have worked and some of those that didn’t. So this blog is a ‘Shout-out to the good’ and the ‘Lessons learned’ from my recent intense 8 weeks of riding LDN-LE-LDN and Everestings.
The 5 Good
Infinity bike seat – Around May this year I started looking at new saddles, with an increasing amount of miles and time on the bike, I wanted to make sure I was as comfortable as possible over the long haul rides. So I set about trying some different saddles – most recently two during the 950mile virtual Race Across the West – but with no success. The Specialized Romin Evo Expert bit me hard after 20 straight hours in the saddle. So, I bit the bullet and did what many people had been telling me to do and bought the Infinity Bike Seat, E2. Wow, I mean it takes some getting used to because it’s so different to a conventional saddle. But because it cradles you, as opposed to you sitting on it like you do with a more conventional saddle, it’s a game changer in long distance comfort.
Find out more – https://infinitybikeseat.com/
Fasted training – I’m lucky to be coached by someone who’s been there in terms of endurance and ultra-distance cycling so for someone in their first season as an ultra-cyclist its a big benefit for me. Over the last 6 months we’ve done a lot more fasted training – for me this has been a hard evening session followed by a meal of fats and protein, but no carbohydrates, and then a ride in the morning doing around 2 or 3 hours of base miles before eating again. Fasted training can have many benefits, but for me its about trying the get the body to learn to use fat as a fuel first, rather than the carbohydrates / glycogen. I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel when I train and take on these longer rides now, and it will certainly continue to form part of my training and hopefully will see me develop further.
Talk to me about training or mentoring, if you are interested and want to find out more!
Lifejacket sun protection – As a fully paid up member of the elite Ginger club, I know a thing or two about sunburn. So finding a skincare product that works on the bike (thinking longevity and something that doesn’t get sweated off) is a challenge. Talking to the guys at LifeJacket and trying their products, I think I’ve it. Even better, for those like me who love going out self-supported, they’ve got these handy sachets. I appreciate this isn’t very sustainable but the ability to travel light and take care of your skin is a real positive for me. Two applications of the 50+ while out on the bike all day and I was fully protected, it goes on smoothly, it’s not greasy and importantly its reef safe as well. Gifted or not I’d highly recommend this to anyone, it’s excellent.
Mission Tea – I’ve been subscribing to Mission Tea for a while now, but haven’t really used their teas extensively on the bike, more just during the day or more so for the recovery benefits. I took a few bags of both the Perform Green and the Recovery Roobios teas with me on the bike for my LDN-LE-LDN ride. I stuck a Green Tea in my bidon to sip during the overnight portion of the ride. It tastes good but more importantly you get a more sustained release of caffeine that you would with say coffee. I’d already been converted to the Recovery Tea, it’s fantastic and the blend is packed full of anti-inflammatories and its a good to help the post ride winddown. So I tend to drink this after my tough sessions once I’ve had a protein shake or meal and find it really does help.
Dhb Aeron Ultra kit – If you know me I love the dhb kit, I’ve used it since I started riding and really have stuck with it and it just keeps getting better year on year. I was gifted the Aeron Ultra Jersey and boy is it good, it’s lightweight & form fitting, there is plenty of ventilation thanks to the large panel down the spine, and there’s a huge amount of pocket space. Ultra-legend Josh Ibbett has inputted in to the design of the ultra range and its paid off, the kit works – its got all the benefits of the race line but with the extra’s you need for riding long and multiple days. Just a mention to the bib-shorts in this range as well, which are pretty much the only pair I wear now – the pad is a decent size and thickness and they fit really well, the band around the tights is spot on (not too tight, not loose so they ride up).
Find the dhb ultra range here – https://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-aeron-ultra
The 5 Bad
Chain lube – Storm Francis did its best to drive all of the protective lubricant from my drive train, leaving me squeaking down the road for the remaining 250 miles. After each ride I wipe the chain down, but the ability to undertake a very basic clean and re-grease would have made the return journey significantly more efficient and quieter. For future multi day, self supported rides, particularly those in anything but the height of summer in the UK, I’ll carry a small bottle of lubricant (currently I’m using Squirt Chain Lube, who sell a 15ml bottle handily). I get this is going to be a rare need, as if applied correctly, the lube should last most long distances unless it gets seriously wet.
Want to try the worlds first (and best) Tungsten all weather lube? Get 10% here using the code 4MYFOLLOWERS
Energy Bars – this is more a grip than a lesson, but its bugged me for a while. Why don’t energy bars have a pre cut / tear in the wrapper!? So it’s a pretty minor thing, but when you are wet, cold and tired on the bike its super hard to open some of these shop bought bars, especially with gloves on or wet hands. Come on guys, up your game!
On that note, if you fancy one of the virtual Revolve24 challenges you can get 10% off the entry fee and get 4 week free on a training plan from Spokes. Just use the code SPOKES10 when registering.
Pedalling technique – Since LDN-LE-LDN my right achilles tendon has been niggling at me, the further I ride the sorer it has become. As I’ve had a professional bike fit (thanks again Jake at Precise Performance) we know its not that. What’s likely happening is when I’m climbing or when fatigued I’m locking up my ankle, rather than keeping it flexed, and that is putting stress through it. So something to work and practice on over the next few months as I gear towards vRevolve24.
Prescription glasses – this has been a thing I’ve been mulling over or a while. I’m a contact lenses / glasses wearer and the 24hr events are always a struggle for me. Wearing Contact Lenses for 24hrs is neither healthy nor nice, and spectacles in the rain doesn’t always work the best either. It’s an annoyance and a hassle basically. So I bit the bullet had a chat with the excellent team at RXSport, who’s advice and support has set me up with a pair of prescription Bolle Shifters with photochromic lenses (those fancy ones that go lighter or darker depending on the conditions). One less thing to worry about on the road right!? A massive thanks to the team at RXSport who’s customer service has been faultless.
Clothing – I know I had kit in the Positives, but both recent challenges have made me realise the need for a lightweight and properly waterproof jacket for those changeable days outside of full winter. Everesting particularly gets hot, the last thing you want to be wearing is a full winter, thermal jacket. Likewise on long rides, you don’t want to be faffing around, stopping to swap jackets – I’m starting to realise that thin layers seem to work better. So, the hunt is on for something lightweight and fully waterproof.
And the ugly…
Oh and if there is anything else I’ve learnt over the past 8 weeks, I’m cursed for riding in storms – LDN-LE-LDN I had Storm Francis and Everesting 10k Roam I had Storm Alex – I’m cursed I tell you, cursed.
A note on links and relationships
For clarity, I was gifted the dhb jersey and the sachets of Lifejacket skin protection – thanks for the support guys. If you want to find out more about the brands I love and am lucky to work with, check out my Partners page (there’s some discounts in there too) – I do earn a small commission on some purchases if you use my codes, but as I state on that page, I’ve made a personal choice to disclose how much I earn and then donate it to the two Charities I’m supporting this year – The Pace Centre and Action4Youth.
If you’ve got any questions about this or any of the gear mentioned, please get in touch or leave a comment below!