Day 3, the story so far

I thought the best way to give you a sense of the ride was to put together some of the photos and video we have taken so far. The thing that doesn’t come across is just how good the crew is. The fact that they don’t speak a word of English and we have only a fairly poor recollection of our GCSE French only adds to the occasion. Two members of the crew have been directors of pro cycling teams and the masseur worked for Team Saxo as recently as 2013. He has even handled the legendary legs of Alberto Contador. To get advice and attention from a group like this really adds to the experience and we all feel very lucky…
Mont Ventoux looms large in the future and we catch ourselves talking about it regularly. I think the reality of just how tough it is going to be is starting to sink in. We have 3 days of cycling before we get there so (as with the daily schedule) we are in breakfast at 6:45am with the start scheduled for 7:30am. The first 20km is neutralized behind a lead vehicle which gives a nice opportunity to stick together and warm up our legs before the day starts in earnest.

Day 2, First casualty to report.

Word has reached me that our supporters in the UK have heard precious little about our journey to date. Two main reasons; we’ve stayed in two hotels so far and wifi has been wanting, day 2 was 195 km which is a long way.
I will write a full post tomorrow of the story so far but in the spirt of timely news I’m grappling with my iPhone and the intermittent 3G network.

First thing to report is Kevin (Dassault Systemes) took a fall today 2km from the finish line and after a 3 hour hospital visit has had a fracture to his arm confirmed. Our intrepid 20 riders are down to 19 I’m afraid. The only small consolation is Kevin is speaking at Fund Forum and we’ll see him at the finish line.

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That disappointment aside the ride had been tough and enjoyable. The crew are fantastic with an amazing resume of professional cycling experience (more to come regarding them tomorrow).

So for now to bed but follow this blog for future updates.

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The night before….

So here we go. 11pm the night before the adventure begins. I’m in the midst of packing, checking equipment (including testing whether I can update the blog from the iPad) and fretting about all the things I might forget or that could go wrong.
I cannot wait for 8:30am to come and we set off on our first of what will be 1,000 miles. At that point everyone will have met, the crew will have given their safety briefing, day bags will have been packed with spare inner tubes and each individuals own sweet treat and the majority of the organisation will be done.
We will very quickly immerse ourselves in the job of getting from A to B. Maybe it is the basic simplicity of that very act I find most appealing but I’m looking forward to it. The tough bits not so much but I guess we’ll have to take the rough with the smooth
So here’s to 9 days of challenge, camaraderie and trying to watch as much of the World Cup as possible while riding from London to Monte Carlo…

Testing the GoPro

My aim is to bring readers of this blog some footage from the London to Monte Carlo ride this year. My slight concern being that remembering the ride last year I could barley write a few hundred words blog post at the end of each day due to exhaustion and a lack of hand function.
However in true British spirit I am casting doubt from my mind and practicing with the GoPro to give you an intimate portrait of the ride, some stunning shots and some behind the scenes footage and interviews.
Below is some sped up footage of the 40k loops I was doing in Spain a week or so ago to practice using the kit. See if you can spot when the incline gets to 23% (hint: it’s when I stop and lean heavily over the handlebars)

A Holiday Affair

London to Monte Carlo is fast approaching. I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing that having done the ride last year I have a sense of what lies ahead. Probably the best indication of my state of mind in the run up to L2MC2 is my approach to the half term break which is concluding this week.

Last year Jules, Sam, Josie and I spent the week in Cyprus. Sure, I packed some trainers but they unfortunately never experience the Mediterranean sun having not even made it out of the luggage. I did consider casting the flip-flops aside for the return journey to the UK and donning the trainers so as to not completely waste them but that didn’t happen either.

This year the half term break once again falls three weeks before the London to Monte Carlo ride. This time round we are in the the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range just south of Granada, Spain. Bringing my trainers didn’t cross my mind. Bringing my bike did but with a flight into Madrid with car seats and all the paraphernalia of a young family I quickly cast the thought aside. Then I found http://www.cyclingcountry.com who were happy to drop off and pick up a carbon road bike at an address of my choice.

Stunning views and routes in Andalusia

Stunning views and routes in Andalusia

Having the bike has meant a few things.

1. I didn’t feel guilty that I wasn’t training.

2. I got to see parts of the country I had never seen before.

3. The views were spectacular.

4. I got some great training in with inclines up to 23%!!

5. When not on the bike I ate and drank guilt free.

6. It was an added aspect to the days which contributed to a fantastic holiday.

Guilt free eating and drinking by the beach

Guilt free eating and drinking by the beach

Me and my holiday fling

Me and my holiday fling

Hills and reservoirs a plenty

Hills and reservoirs a plenty

We drive back to Madrid this afternoon and then fly to London first thing tomorrow morning. Whilst I’m looking forward to getting back on my trusty steel frame Pin it has been an enjoyable holiday affair with the younger and lighter carbon Trek….. if Shirley Valentine can do it, why can’t I….

Many thanks to http://www.cyclingcountry.com and I look forward to seeing some familiar faces in Richmond Park on Sunday.

It’s longer and tougher in 2014

My fund raising page is up and running. I’m not a big fan of posting lots of messaging with my cap in hand asking people to part with their hard earned cash. This is therefore the only blog post where I will do it (so let’s make it a good one).
I have enjoyed organizing the London to Monte Carlo ride for a second year. I am grateful to the sponsors and the riders who are taking on the challenge this year. In addition to the amazing experience that comes with something like this the main motivation is to support those less fortunate than ourselves or at the very least need some financial support. The two charities we have selected this year are very different in their focus but both equally important. You can read more about them and sponsor me on my fundraising page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/montecarlo

Tough Mudder – Completed

At this time a week ago I was sitting in a car with Scott, Simon, Graham, Charlotte and Lewis – Team Dow Jones. We had rendezvoused an hour earlier at Clapham Junction for the 1hr20mins drive to Culden Faw, a sprawling estate near Henley on Thames and the location for Tough Mudder London West 2014.
Spirits were high but the anticipation and sense of entering the unknown meant that stress levels were also creeping up. The last thing we needed was a delay and that was unfortunately exactly what we experienced with the Henley on Thames one way system delaying us by an hour.
We passed the time by reeling off our lists of illnesses and injuries probably so we felt we had each individually set the groundwork if, in the likely event, we failed to finish.

As we arrived late the time from parking to the start line shot by in a blur of changing, registering, handing in our waivers and writing race numbers on each others foreheads (something to do with body identification no doubt). We were warmed up at the UnderArmour stage and then sent to the start line. The organizers felt the need to put a 6ft wall between the warm up area and the start line but as I would soon realize this would be the least of my worries.

We were then held at the start line for 15 mins and given an odd mix of a motivational speech and a sales pitch. We were about to join mudder nation, all that lay in our way was 20 obstacles over 20km of tough terrain. We chanted, swore an oath and saluted those who had gone before. We hugged a stranger and promised to help our fellow mudders in need. Indeed it was about beating the course – together – not about our race time.
This should have reassured me but the nagging feeling that I wasn’t confident I could even walk 20km with a following wind down hill let alone complete what lay in-front of me that afternoon stayed with me. P

The actual race is well documented and a simple search of YouTube will give you a sense of what goes on. So for the sake of brevity I’ll give you my top memories/observations.

Tough Mudder Team 2014

Tough Mudder Team 2014

1. As soon as the starting gun went off the course took us on a very steep and muddy climb. I thought about quitting in the first 5 mins as there was clearly no way I was going to complete the challenge.
2. Some human beings can run very quickly up muddy hills. They are a different shape to me.
3. The obstacles very quickly turned from being a nice break in the running eg. the crawl under the barbed wire to bloody awful eg. jumping into a skip filled with water and ice and having to submerge your whole body.
4. Ice cold water takes your breath away, makes you think your heart will stop and is bloody tough to jump out of and start running.
5. Electric shocks are possible the most unpleasant thing you could add to the whole ordeal and they did it…. twice
6. As you pass by fallen runners being attend to by medical professions and wrapped in emergency blankets, pass stretcher bearers walking the other way and look up to see an air ambulance swooping 30 ft above you taking a serious injured runner to hospital – there is no illusion as to whether you are in a tough challenge
7. There is nothing like an experience such as the tough mudder to bond you with complete strangers. Whether it be words of encouragement, a helping hand or even (and I saw this first hand) a reassuring hug from a spectator at mile 10
8. I don’t know their names but to the 3 gentlemen who grabbed parts of my body on Everest (the last obstacle akin to a half pipe) and helped me over the top all I can say is thank you, I love you and I owe you.

Did I enjoy it – No
Am I glad I did it – Yes
Will I do another one – never say never but unlikely
Am I proud of myself and the rest of team Dow Jones – you better believe it

The reason I entered the challenge was to add a little variety to my training for London to Monte Carlo 2 and with some running and personal training sessions and the challenge itself I certainly feel fitter than I did this time last year. Now it’s back to the bike to get some serious miles in the legs and of course a new pair of trainers…..

New Trainers

Our Everest…. Mont Ventoux

With less than 3 months to go the training is starting to heat up. Last weekend the Financial News Strava group racked up an impressive cumulative 948km.

There are a number of ways to motivate yourself for such an epic ride but I think the graphic Fareed found depicting Mont Ventoux does the trick nicely. We face this mythical climb on day 7. We will have cycled a long way already, some 700 miles. This is our Everest and the scene of the Financial News London to Monte Carlo 2 inaugural King of the Mountain stage. To the victor the spoils.

 

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20 Riders Confirmed. Only a couple of places left…

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring. –Desmond Tutu

We have 20 cyclists confirmed for London to Monte Carlo 2. More about those brave souls later but this is officially the last shout out for riders. There are a couple of spots left and we’d be delighted for you to join us. Previous posts on this blog give you all the details and what you need to know. As always additional details can be found on http://www.efinancialnews.com/montecarlo

Aside from that – all I can do is leave you with an image or two of what’s in store….

what's ahead

Alpe d'heuz

Bend in the Road