Us Type 1 Cyclists* Need Your Support

Imagine…
Your day started as early as 4am as you made your way to Olympic Park for the start of the Prudential Ride London 100.
Your nerves and adrenalin were sky high as you set off from Olympic Park amongst 25000 riders.
You’ve been riding for hours, mostly without a break.
You’ve conquered the biggest hills in Surrey – Leith particularly is a killer
You’ve already ridden 85 miles.
Your legs feel like they’re made of something-marginally-lighter-than-Lead.
You really need a boost to get you through the last 15 miles to the finish line on The Mall.

RL100JDRFAnd then it happens.

You turn the corner and there they are, the supporters from Diabetes UK and JDRF, they’re there just for you**
Twice I’ve done RideLondon and both times I’ve received such a boost from the supporters. And isn’t it nice that Diabetes UK and JDRF all stand together, united in cheering their riders on, united in finding a cure.

Of course Kingston isn’t the only place. I really got a great boost from being cheered on by one of JDRF’s Directors whilst nearing the top of Newlands Corner. Kingston though has one great advantage as you can see the riders on the way out to Surrey in the morning and on the way back.
In 2015 JDRF’s Beki encouraged me to carry on cycling.

And here’s the time I tried to high-five Phillipa in 2015 – that probably wasn’t my best move, I was lucky not to hit the railings.

So, I wonder if I could ask a favour: if you’re near London on the 30th July could you go and support all those cyclists doing the Prudential Ride London 100 for either JDRF, Diabetes UK or DRWF (Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation).
The supporter point is here (near TK Maxx) and riders will be going through from 7:00 through 16:00 I guess – I got there by 10am.

I’m sure if you do go you’ll have a great day out too.

Here’s my video from my 2015 ride…if you’re really bored.

*I’m not a cyclist who has Type 1 themself, but I ride to get sponsorship to be put towards helping people with Type 1 Diabetes. And I’m not actually riding RideLondon this year either 😀
** Okay, maybe they’re there for others too but at that time it feels like they’re only here for you.

Diabetes Dads do Nightrider (again)

CaptureOnce again some of my Diabetes Dad friends and I rode in the London Nightrider, as we did last year when we had a huge group. Whilst the group wasn’t so large this year a good few thousand pounds was raised by the other Dads. I didn’t raise any money this year as I had a free place after coming to agreement with the event organisers who in turn used lots of my previous year’s video as promotional footage.

Yet again we had a great meet up and curry at Lahore Kebab House long before the ride and we’re really pleased that not only did JDRF challenge event organiser Bronagh come along but JDRF’s CX Karen too. It felt great to be supported and their support spurred us on for the ride.

What interested me this year was that two-thirds of us were using Nightscout and we had a bit of fun reporting on our kids’ glucose readings throughout our ride.

We had lots of fun.
Take a look.

(Here’s last year’s video)

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Riding the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 for JDRF

web-RLBR0092I’ve neglected the blog lately so it’s time to start catching up with things, starting with this, my round-up of my biggest cycle challenge so far, raising money for JDRF.
The Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 is a 100 mile cycle ride on closed roads, starting in London’s Olympic Park and heading through the city, out via Kingston towards the hills of Surrey before returning to London with the finish on The Mall.
It’s certainly doable for a keen cyclist if you put the training in beforehand, bearing in mind that I could barely cycle 25 miles a couple of years ago.

Getting a place

There’s two ways to get a place for RideLondon, either apply for a ballot place, or sign up for a place purchased by a charity. The charity route often means you’ll pay nothing up front but will commit to raise £500 or more. The ballot route means that you don’t need to raise any money for charity but you’ll pay a small fee – £50ish – if you’re lucky enough get ballot place.
With only a 1 in 5 chance of getting a place many are forced to go the charity route. I was lucky in the ballot but still decided to raise money for JDRF, breaking the £500 mark once GiftAid had been added.
Whilst no ballot place rider is forced to raise money events like this raise much needed millions for various charities and people realise that this is, for the amateur rider, an effort worth sponsoring.

passing Parliament

Nerves, nerves and more nerves

As the day came closer I got myself in a pickle: would I make the distance?; would I be too slow?; how would I get myself to London and back…and lots more.
The biggest worry was whether I’d be fast enough in the early section, especially if I suffered a puncture or mechanical issue in the first 20 miles.
I’d have 2hrs21 to make it to Hampton Court (26 miles) by 11am or risk being ousted by the dreaded ‘broom wagon’.
I knew I could beat a 12mph pace as long as no mechanical issues arose.

The day dawns

Waking up at 3am – there really was no point setting a 4am alarm! – people were already on Twitter, talking about loading up their bikes on the cars and generally getting excited.
Nerves had dissipated leaving only excitement.
I was in London by 5:50am, parking at Euston station which left me 7.5 miles to cycle to the start and importantly only 2.5 after I’d finished. I’d unknowingly parked next to another RideLondon first timer and we got ready together, each wondering what the event would be like.
The cycle to the start through a relatively sleepy London was easy and relaxed.

And we’re off

Richmond ParkStarting 25000 riders off takes a long time so they do it over three hours, with waves or riders going off together a few minutes apart. I was in the orange ‘N’ wave, starting at 8:39am, along with a fellow member of #GBDOC, Midge. Midge and I talked for some time whilst edging forward towards the start line, both eager to get going.
The DJ at the start span up Darude’s Sandstorm as we set off, which pleased me as others had departed to all manner of music I hate.
The start was relatively mellow, quite slow until we got on to the dual carriageways towards the centre of London. The speed increased and increased again and I was buzzing along at a steady 20mph, that’s pretty quick for me.
Midge and I seemed to play cat & mouse, one minute he was in front, the next it was me and suddenly he disappeared (probably way in front).

Faster than your average

They say you have to be able to average 11.75mph to complete the 100 miles in time, but the first cut-off is at 11am, 26 miles in. With my average riding pace being 13 to 14 mph I knew I’d make it, if I had no punctures, but I was very surprised to average almost 19mph over the first 26 miles, that’s way faster than my average. If you’d told me before I be so quick I would never have believed you.

One big JDRF team

Photo with JDRF Clare's kids at Newlands CornerJDRF had 100 riders in the event and we all started at different times but we all shared a common ground in Type 1 Diabetes.
Before we’d even set off I bumped into a couple wearing JDRF jerseys and had a very brief chat. I decided at this point that I would make sure I cycled over to any and every JDRF rider I was cycling near at any point and I’m so glad I did, it mad the event so much more enjoyable.
Within 5 miles I passed and chatted with another couple also wearing the team jersey, at mile 10 I rode alonside Rosie for few miles and was amazed that her ladies cycle team organised by Jenny Carr were all supporting a cause unrelated to their lives; much similar to all my friends joining in with Nightrider last year.
Around 40 miles another JDRF jersey spotted, it was Adam and we had a great chat about insulin pumps, diagnosis, insulin and the “cure”.
Team JDRF had their own set of cheerleaders at Newlands Corner, Dr Clare McVicker with her family were cheering us all on. It was lovely to stop and have a brief chat with Clare who got quite excited when I mentioned I was on Twitter and immediately I got a new follower.
Before setting off from Newlands I met more of Jenny’s team and afterwards cycled all the way to Dorking with a lovely couple from Cardiff.

Box hill

A few miles later after a brief stop at Box Hill I cycled up to another JDRF rider.
“Hello” I said “Nice jersey”.
“Haha, yeah your’s too. Hold on I know you, you’re Kev”
Quickly searching my memory and stalling for time by making out I had to steer around a stone or something, I embarrasingly couldn’t put a face to a name but luckily Paul introduced himself. Paul and I had chatted a few times online and we followed each other on Strava but I’m not I’d ever seen a picture of him – well that’s my excuse for not recognising him. Paul and I whiled away the miles chatting which was easy as we were similar speeds and very similar stories to share. Before we knew it we had covered over 30 miles together and finished on The Mall both with a 30mph+ sprint finish.
Being part of the JDRF team really made this event for me and riding with Paul was a big part of it.
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Best ride of my life

Given that this year I’ve ridden London to Paris with friends I can’t say Ride London was the best ride of my life BUT it’s pretty close. I met some wonderful people all supporting the Type 1 cause, I cemented a friendship which will last a long time, I rode 100 miles for the first time ever and raised a fair bit of money too.
If you’re thinking of riding Ride London then I say do it, you won’t regret it.
After finishing on The Mall

Nightrider London awaits

NightRider2Three days from now, at dawn on Sunday, I should have just finished cycling 100km around London, raising money for JDRF. I truly can’t wait to do it particularly as I’m doing it as part of a team mainly consisting of my work colleagues.
We start off from Crystal Palace at 10:35pm anti-clockwise through Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Olympic Park, Alexandra Palace, Waterloo, Whitehall and The Mall before ending up back at Crystal Palace.

A team grows
Last year I read about Nightrider shortly after cycling next to Gav in his GBR30/30 challenge and it captured my imagination, so I decided to do it in 2014, probably by myself.
Discussing it at work and Jon decided he’d do it as well, perhaps we could ask a couple of others he suggested. A few chats later and the team grew to 5 from work and Steve who lives close by. A month later and we’re up 8 cycling for JDRF and 3 cycling for CancerResearchUK. In total there’s 21 JDRF riders starting from Crystal Palace including my team plus Nick, Mark H, Andrew whom I know from either Twitter or the Cycling at JDRF Facebook group. There’s also a lot of JDRF riders starting from Alexandra Palace about an hour later.

A few of us enjoying a rest after a cycling sportive: Mark P, Kev, Jon, Mark H
jdrf cyclists at bbq

Raising funds
We’re riding for JDRF and they’ve set a target for each person of £175 per person, on top of the £39 registration we’ve each paid. For this £175 JDRF have bought a charity place from Nightrider for £60 and on top give each cyclist a JDRF cycling jersey, which in itself must be worth £35. So in theory JDRF don’t get much money in from this event, just £80 per person if they reach their target.
A few days ago I was concerned we wouldn’t reach out target, it sat £400 short of our combined target of £1400. In the last few days though sponsorship has come flooding in and we’re close to £2000 already.
Sponsorship page is here if you want to see how we’re doing…or donate.. bit.ly/nightridertf.

Training, training, training
For some cycling 100km is easy but there’s only one of our team – Steve – who could boast this, with Shaun coming a close second, for the rest us it was going to take a fair bit of training. So off we set on our first training ride back in January, a mere 30km but a distance which seemed daunting at first.

From our first training ride
Juli, Kev, Jon, Tim, Sue, Mark, Steve, ShaunNightriderTF-1

Training rides got longer week by week, some hills got thrown in and the weather started improving. A few other friends/colleagues started joining in the rides and a few of us managed to get out each weekend.

A hilly ride around the South Downs
NightriderTF-2

We set a target for 60km on April 21st when many of us entered a local Sportive. Five of my team did it along with two other Nightriders, Nick (coming down from Derby) and Mark (coming from London), plus a friend Gemma. That turned out to be a great ride through lovely country roads and finishing with a nice BBQ afterwards.

Gemma, Kev, Juli, Jon, Mark P, Nick, Mark H, Sue
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Our first night ride last Friday
Tim, Jon, Kev, Sue
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Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Day 27 to Gav, day 1 to me

This article is about my involvement with Gav’s challenge, where I cycled next to him during the last four days of his challenge, whilst he ran 30 miles or more each day for JDRF and DiabetesUK.
If you’re expecting to find out about how Gav got on with his diabetes or running you’re going to be disappointed, you’ll have to wait and buy the book or attend one of his talks. Sorry but his tale is his to tell, not mine.

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

The night before…

Dad rang me on the phone to confirm the time he was picking me up in the morning.
“Ok, Kev, I’ll see you at 5am”
“What, 5am! No, later, can we aim to leave here at 6am?”
We settled on him arriving at 5:30am, to leave at 6am on our 3 hour drive to Torquay in Devon, to meet Gav and cycle 30 odd miles next to him. It was going to be a long day.
5:30am obviously stuck in my Dad’s head, as that’s when he left his house, to drive to mine, 45 minutes away.
We were already late.

The route and elevation

Today’s route on flat land was due to be 33.6 miles, or 54.2km in new money.
You can click on the map to show it in Google maps:
GBR3030, Day 27, route map
GBR3030, Day 27, elevation

Plymouth ho!

At Plainmoor, the home of Torquay Football Club, we met Gavin, his sister and his Aunt, took pictures and readied to set off.
I presumed that the hilly route would be quite normal to Gavin, who’d already run through Scotland, the Cotswolds and the Mendips but he next four days turned out to be some of the hilliest routes.
I was dreading it, I hate hills, which is why I’d cleverly (or not!) spent hours changing the route to minimise elevation changes and therefore hill climbs. It only took me a couple of miles to realised all this was in vain and that I should have put it a lot of hill cycle training beforehand; it was too late now.

Did I say that I hate hills?

Just two miles into the route came our first steep hill, a road still within the boundary of Torquay.
I slowed as I cycled and watched as Gav ran on, powering up the hill. Half way up my unfit legs told me to get off the bike and walk.
I was disappointed but as I walked up I looked at the terracing of the houses and realised it was probably the steepest I’d ever attempted to cycle up.
And just at moment Gav’s sister Kaylie caught the moment on camera.
The next 3km were up hill all the way and at this point I lost Gav.
Here I was, meant to be supporting someone who’d already run 780 miles and I couldn’t even keep up. I didn’t catch up with Gavin until we reached the first checkpoint, 5 miles or so in.

Downhill(ish) to Totnes, then up, up, up

Kaylie joined us for the run to Totnes, running alonside her brother for the next 5 miles.
The lack of inclines pleased me and finally I felt like I was doing what I set out to do, thoroughly enjoying cycling through the beautiful countryside.
Totnes approached, where my Dad was waiting with my first pasty of the trip, which on reflection probably wasn’t a good idea.
Out of Totnes the road just went up and up, on a road not suitable for cars, or my bike, at least that’s what it felt like.
Through miles and miles of countryside we went and reached the halfway point at our first pub stop, the Avon Inn at Avonwick. I looked forward to a beer until I looked at the elevation of the road that came next. I ordered a coke.

Climbing and falling

Day one, 24 miles in, Gav still caning itThe new few miles were pretty good although it was getting pretty windy and we could see rain in the distance.
Gav had told me he would run at 5mph to conserve energy but at 24 miles in he was caning it at 9mph, as the photo shows.
The road was getting busier, the clouds were getting darker but we pressed towards Plymouth.
Through the pouring rain I cycled into Plymouth and towards the finish line. My odometer told me I’d already clocked 35 miles, the most I’d ever cycled by 10 miles…and that was on the flat.
Gav and I neared the finish line and just before crossing the road I fell off my bike, with my feet still in the clips. My elbow felt like it was broken, I may have sworn a little.
By the time we reached the finish the sky was turning quite blue…as was my arm.

Plymouth. Hi!

Gav ran with the torch to the finish, near the Fish on a Stick and the Mayflower steps.
I was pretty relieved today and its weather and its hills was over.
Day one end, 36 miles done to Plymouth

And finally…

Gav knew the cold water in the harbour would soothe his legs so like our countrymen in 1620 he descended the Mayflower steps in search of salvation.

Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge – Running from John O’Groats to Land’s End

You know most of this already right?

There can’t be many people in the UK who use the internet and have some association with Type 1 Diabetes but haven’t heard about 21 year old Gavin Griffiths’s amazing challenge of running 900 miles between John O’Groats and Land’s End, over 30 days. If you haven’t heard about it then take a look at Gavin’s web site: http://diathlete.org/the-gbr-30-30-challenge/

Donation, donation, donation

If you’d like to donate to Gav’s GBR30/30 Challenge fundraising pot please click this: http://bit.ly/gbr3030donate

How did we get involved?

I’ve been following Gav’s progress and tweets about the challenge for many months but never thought I’d ever get involved but when the opportunity arose on the 27th December – two days before Amy’s second Di-aversary* – I signed up.

So there it was, we’d cycle next to Gavin for one of the days of his GBR30/30 challenge. It seemed to us like a token effort considering the challenge itself but Gav seemed pleased with the idea.
The next day we were at Amy’s clinic and even the Doctor knew about Gavin and his challenge:

*diaversary – the anniversary of a person being diagnosed with diabetes, turned around to be a positive thing.

Why get involved?

If you’ve read the article about trying to inspire Amy then you’ll have guessed correctly that this was part of the plan. I wanted Amy to meet Gav at least and to see/hear first hand that the life of someone with Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t need to be held back; that she could aspire to have a great life without be ‘stopped’ from doing stuff*; that someone with Type 1 can do stuff that people without it (like me) could never dream of doing. I figured that if this mindset sank in before going through the next tricky teenage years then Amy would be better placed to deal with adolescence.

* ok, I know there’s stuff she just won’t be able to do (join the army, drive for more than a couple of hours without stopping, eat without using an A-grader’s knowledge of GCSE’s mathmatics) but I’m talking in general; about not just sitting there and bemoaning her situation.

Logistics, logistics

I asked Amy if she’d liked to do the cycle and she jumped at the chance, even though the furthest she’d ever cycled was 24 miles the previous summer. I told Jane that I’d need her to provide driving support as we’d be starting in one place and ending somewhere else 30 miles away.
“But I’d like to do it too”
“Damn, I’d better ring my Dad and ask him to drive then”.
Logistics turned out to be the trickiest thing but I came out with a plan, saw it through and it all went well in the end.

Meeting Gav

I met with Gav one Sunday morning – he was late, I think it’s a trait of his 🙂 (Just joking Gav!)
We discussed the challenge, what troubles he was having and somewhere along the line I offered as much support as he needed, especially for the last four days, starting at Torquay and ending at Land’s End.

Soon it became clear to me that I wanted to do more than cycle just one day but the logistics of anything else seemed to difficult, until I threw a couple of ideas my Dad’s way.
Suddenly the agreed plan was hatched, Dad and I would support Gavin from Torquay to Plymouth and Plymouth to Bodmin; Jane, Amy and I would cycle from Bodmin to St Agnes; we’d all be there at the (Land’s) End to cheer him home.
I decided that I was going to cycle some part of all those four days but I kept it quiet, for a while at least.