First Ride of the Year – 2014

I had a bit of a false start on the weekend and didn’t manage to get out on the bike. However fresh from Zumbering last night I got on the bike for my commute this morning. As Map My Ride will attest it was a leisurely start but a start none the less.

map my 1

The biggest problem was finding my cycling shoes, or more specifically shoe. One was very easy to find, sitting with all the other shoes ready to be utilised. It was the 3 hours it took me to find the other shoe that was a little frustrating. You could have come to my house with the sole (forgive me!) purpose of hiding it and I bet I would have found it quicker.

At 7am it was dark, a little damp and a little cold. However as the the old saying goes “summer bodies are made in the winter” or more accurately “if I want to get to Monaco quicker in 2014 I need to train harder than 2013”.

I got two “nice bike” comments on the way in which has started me rethinking my decision to buy a new bike for L2MC2. After all, she is a lovely bike, just a bit bloody heavy.

My lovely bike did serve me well last year

My lovely bike did serve me well last year

It was interesting to read the article on Cycling Weekly this morning regarding the recent police crackdown

I certainly felt there were less red lights run by fellow cyclist and a little more awareness from the cars/buses/lorries. Let’s hope it has lasting impact for all concerned.

Now the question is can I keep up the cycling with rain forecast for tomorrow…


I said I would try a varied selection of activity to get my body moving and drop some pounds before the serious cycling starts. However I didn’t think I would find myself in a church hall near Euston this rainy Monday evening Zumbering. The fact that I did is partly about trying out something new but also a great indication of the sort of people I work with at Dow Jones.

A school friend of mine, Julia Main, recently moved back from Italy. She posted on Facebook that she would be running some Zumba classes in a location pretty close to my office. As I’m looking for ways to get fit and Julia being a fellow Old Cranleighian (and 2Norther no less) I decided there and then that I was in.

Once I read Julia's post I knew I was doing Zumba, I just had to find our what Zumba was...

Once I read Julia’s post I knew I was doing Zumba, I just had to find our what Zumba was…

It wasn’t until after I had confirmed my participation to Julia that I googled “Zumba” and realized what I was getting myself into. The various videos of thin, athletic and (lets face it) coordinated people I was presented with made me realize pretty quickly that I would be out of my comfort zone.

Turning to my colleagues I asked for support and in typical Dow Jones fashion (like having fun, take on a challenge, enjoy trying something different and most importantly support each other) I soon had 18 takers!

My initial concerns around the very real possibility that I wouldn’t be able to do it were quickly allayed and with the merry band you see below (a few of the initial “yeses” missing due to forgotten kit!) I can genuinely say that I had an amazing time, a lot of fun and I certainly worked up a sweat. I highly recommend it to everyone. Julia ran a fantastic and fun class and I would encourage anyone to join her on Mondays at 6pm

We are the ones in the pink headbands

We are the ones in the pink headbands

The Pinarello is calling…

The time has come. With L2MC a mere 5 months (or so) away it is time to dust off the Pinarello and take her out for a spin. Richmond Park tomorrow morning will see my inaugural 2014 ride. Excited to get back on the road and hope my neglect of the trusty stead hasn’t hampered her road worthiness. In fairness I should be worrying about my performance more than the bikes…

Time for the Pinarello to come back out to play

Time for the Pinarello to come back out to play

10 things to know about the L2MC Bike Ride

With registration for London to Monte Carlo 2 (L2MC2) opening in 7 days I thought it would be good to answer a question I am often asked  by people weighing up whether to take on the challenge in 2014, “what’s the ride like”. I have put together the top 10 things you should know about the ride when considering it.

Disclaimer: Remember I’m The Novice Cyclist and my thoughts and observations reflect that level of experience. It should be pointed out that far more accomplished and experienced riders also took part in 2013 and enjoyed the challenge immensely and will be returning for 2014. The challenge of L2MC really does cater for every level of rider.

L2MC BacksJoe Martin

  1. London to Monte Carlo is quite a long way to travel on a bike, however at 19 stone I did it without having attempted anything like this before. I trained, but only managed a few 50+ miles rides and maybe ten 30+ mile training rides plus a number of gym and commuting sessions. As per previous posts I plan to be fitter and faster this year but the above gives you a sense of my preparation for 2013.
  2. There are some tough bits to deal with. I would classify these challenges into two camps. The long straights, which are a bit of a grind, and the hills – affectionately called “the lumpy bits”. Both can be overcome with a little determination but it’s not a cake walk.
  3. Here are some photos from 2013 which give you a sense of what’s in store
  4. We’re planning to include Mont Vontoux in the 2014 route – you can find out about it here Putting aside nervous trepidation, if reading that excites you even a little then this ride is for you.
  5. There is very little competition even with the introduction of the time trial and king of the hill in 2014. Riders find their level and groups quickly and the support and camaraderie builds from there.
  6. You won’t be staying at the Ritz. While we are attempting to make the hotels a little closer to the centre of towns in 2014 this is a charity ride and we look to limit costs wherever possible. Personally I would have slept on a nail bed in a barn at the end of riding 100 miles for the 6th day in a row!
  7. The support crew are the best in the business and you feel in very safe and experienced hands and if you or your bike need any help whatsoever it will be just moments away. I personally put this to the test in 2013 by falling off my bike going round a bend at speed and the motorcycle outrider was with me in 5 mins and the mechanic in 7 mins. They also feed you and pop a cup of tea in your hand whenever required (on a side note the rejuvenating capabilities of a cup of tea continue to amaze me)
  8. Read my account of the 2013 ride at and some of the other riders accounts on We wrote this as the trip developed so you get a real sense of the highs and lows
  9. The sense of achievement is phenomenal, you get to raise money for fantastic causes and meet people you’ll know for the rest of your life.
  10. Spaces are limited so sign up as soon as registration opens on Wednesday 15th January. Email either or me at or through the contact section of this blog.
  11. The majority of the cost of the ride is underwritten by our generous sponsors and Financial News. There is a registration fee of £500 per rider (towards costs) and minimum fundraising target of £2000 (all of which goes to the charities). If you look at similar fundraising initiatives you would either have to pay the full cost yourself or a % of your fundraising total would go towards the cost (and therefore a higher fundraising goal). The way we approach and support L2MC ensures minimal cost to the rider and maximum contribution to the charities… pretty unique.

Ok so that was 11 things not 10. If I missed anything you’d like to know please do get in touch.

Full set of photos from day 7 & 8, L2MC 2013 – Ben Phillips

The last post of photos proved so popular I thought I’d cut out the middle man and give you the link to all photos taken by Ben Phillips. Ben joined us on the sixth evening of the 2013 ride in Grenoble and spent a couple of days capturing our endeavours as we took on the “lumpy bits”. As you can see from his shots Ben is a fantastic photographer who I recommend highly, he’s a nice chap too.