With just one more day to go I am getting ever more excited about the Mitie London Revolution!
I have received and read through my participant pack and am lucky enough to be based about 7 or 8 miles down the road from the start point of the Mitie London Revolution so getting there in the morning shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Nothing like an extra few miles on an epic ride hey … at least I will be warmed up! And having just cycled 600km across Tuscany, 185 miles will seem like a breeze right?! That’s the plan, anyways.
The 600km unsupported off road cycling adventure, set in the beautiful hills of Tuscany and so named the Tuscany Trail, formed the main part of my training. Not usually an advocate of last minute.com I didn’t really have the option to follow the 16 week steady build up that is provided by the organisers when signing up to the Mitie Revolution, so instead I threw myself in the deep end with just a few weeks to go. And just to make matters interesting, I set off on this Epic challenge with two incredible, and needless to say, pro cyclists, namely Gaby Leveridge of Velosure Starley Primal and Rickie Cotter, several times over national champion and twice over silver world medalist for 24hr MTB races. Thank God they agreed to go easy on me!
We set off on the Friday morning, bikes packed and excitement brimming. The first day was the hardest, taking in two rather large and rocky climbs where all those participating had to dismount and carry their bikes up to the top. Luckily I had Rickie in my team who, with all her experience of lugging bikes up mountains, came back down to help me with mine. At the second climb I succumbed to the fact that I am no off-roader, nor am I as strong on the bike as I was this time last year and so I felt more comfortable taking the train and meeting the girls in Florence rather than run the risk of putting the girls in danger by holding the team up as we tried to outrun the storm over that second peek. Thankfully as I approach the Mitie Revolution, I am far more confident with my hill-climbing skills on the road rather than off, especially now I have a good run in my legs.
Day two and three were far more gentle in comparison and more about chomping away the miles. Taking in some of the iconic route of L’Eroica, our first target was to get to the midway point and following that, an attempt to actually finish ahead of schedule. That said we still chose to do the last leg around the Island on the morning of day four as opposed to squeeze it into day three.
We set off early morning after a good night sleep in a hotel that we found on route and, with the very best of my broken Italian, managed to sweet talk the owner into letting us bring our bikes in with us. Of course setting off at 5am meant that there weren’t any stores open when we passed the small village next to the marina and we soon realised that once off road, we were going to be following that route for some time without a snack bar between us. Whilst Gaby, now bonking, contemplated chomping on dry energy sachets, I struggled to keep up on the climbs. Very aware that I was slowing things down just when we needed to speed up, I suggested the girls ride at their own pace across the final off road section and meet me once back in civilisation! Then as if by magic I found my legs; the hills seemed less steep and the track much less knarly. I’m not saying that it was super easy all of a sudden but with this second wind I was able to give it a damn good go without worrying about the time I was taking to catch the girls up. I have to say, I absolutely loved the off road section for the final day and took it on with a big smile on my face (and a few harsh words with myself for the places where I wanted to chicken out)! I was enjoying it so much in fact that I somehow managed to miss the girls where they had propped up to get breakfast and wait for me.
On my return to the UK, I took my road bike for a little jaunt to Devon, having first nearly thrown it across the room when picking it up!! … I wasn’t expecting the dramatic weight difference in comparison to the MTB I had been on for 4 days straight! Despite having previously cycled to Devon from my house in London, I opted for the train this time – I thought I deserved a rest! This rest didn’t last too long however, as I made straight for Haytor for a bit of cheeky hill training. Well, sort of … Having done most of my cycling in London recently (Tuscany aside), I was lured by the greenery and beautiful horizons and spent more time taking photos than I did cycling; that was until I got chatting to a chap who was cycling up and down Haytor 13 times that day as training for the Everesting challenge which he is doing later this year. Then, with a pang of guilt I took in the tor three more times before heading back home for a bacon butty!
The more I think of it, the more excited I am to be camping in London. Given that I live in London there is something quite novel and somewhat childlike about camping here; it feels like that time you convinced your parents to let you and your friends stay in a tent in the back garden as a kid, c’mon, we’ve all been there right? I am also tremendously excited at the luxury of a tent; having lost my bivvy bag virginity on the Tuscany trail, coming back to a cosy tent that has been set up for me and filled with the kit that I can pop in the transfer van at the beginning of the ride is definitely very welcoming as I am sure Gaby would agree having spent all night in the foetal position trying to retain what little warmth she had. Most of all I am excited about the social aspects of the Saturday evening. I am really not sure what to expect here but I’m predicting that most people will be just as excited as I am so will stay up to socialise despite having spent the day in the saddle.
So now for some final preparations; check the bike over, charge my Garmin and phone and such, pack the kit bag ready for the transfer van, and try to reign in the excitement and exchange it for some sleep. The organisers of the Mitie London Revolution have been very helpful in providing regular emails to make sure I have thought of everything beforehand, so I think that’s all for now …
So, see you on the flip side I guess …..