Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My JOGLE - Mark "the metronome"

Training and preparation

I was quite late to the party, only signing up to do the JOGLE in January, but had a decent level of fitness with various sportives under my belt in the previous year, as well as riding the four hour category in the Thetford Winter Series MTB races. I concentrated on long rides at weekends (both on and off-road) and running during the week to make the most of limited time, as well as continuing to ride the short distance to work on my trusty singlespeed. Knowing the JOGLE was coming really helped motivate me to get out and ride when the weather was suspect and I might not otherwise have bothered.

In the weeks leading up to le grand d├ępart I gradually increased ride length and felt happy with my progress and confident for the ride, although still pretty wary about the scale of the challenge!

The ride

I enjoyed every last second of it! My main worry coming in to the event was being able to recover from one day to the next, but I was pleasantly surprised how well I managed – thanks is definitely due to Dave for making sure we all followed our recovery routine of protein shakes and compression tights every night.

My only moment of doubt was when I started to get some sharp pain and swelling in my Achilles tendons on day three – for a while I thought it might be enough to scupper my ride, but thankfully it responded well to anti-inflammatories and didn't give me too much trouble for the rest of the trip.

The highlights for me were the Highlands and the Lake District, both of which had plenty of big hills and great scenery. The Kirkstone pass in Cumbria stood out (both literally and figuratively) due to its brutal gradient, amazing views and gorgeous weather.

Bike and equipment

I used my trusty Focus Cayo. I’ve had it for nearly three years and it’s done plenty of big rides so I knew I’d be comfortable, and it proved totally reliable during the ride - the only thing that’s even slightly worn out is the bar tape.

Before the ride I did splash out on a few bits of new kit:

  • dHb Aeron ¾ length bibshorts (from Wiggle)

    I now have a couple of pairs of these, and theyhave without doubt the best chamois I’ve ever used. The quality is also superb for the money. In conjunction with Assos Chamois Creme (aka minty arse lard), these kept sensitive areas comfortable and free of chafing all ride long.
  • Rudy Project Sterling helmet (from Velo Ecosse, Edinburgh)

    I popped in to a couple of bike shops in Edinburgh for some last-minute bits and pieces after flying up and came across this by luck. I’ve been looking for a new road helmet on-and-off for ages so I was really pleased to find one that fitted comfortably and didn’t make my head look like a mushroom. It’s also well ventilated, pretty light and the pads remove as one for easy washing – all good stuff.
  • Garmin Edge 800 GPS cycle computer (“Enduro” bundle with heart and cadence sensors and OS 50k mapping from Merlin Cycles)

    The most expensive thing I’ve ever bought for cycling that isn’t a bike. Once I’d swotted up from the manual and loaded it with Dave’s detailed route plan it was really useful – giving us turn by turn directions for the whole route, as well as a plethora of stats to pore over.

If I could do it all again…

I would do it tomorrow! In all seriousness, there’s not that much I’d do differently in terms of training or kit. I might be tempted to take a bit longer and enjoy the scenery a bit more, or possibly choose somewhere a bit warmer – anyone for a French end to end?

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