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If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know I am quite partial to a BIG fitness challenge.

5 marathons, an ultramarathon, 2 triathlons, a few mountains, a few tough mudders…you get the drift.

But riding 100 miles on an indoor bike?

Really Julie?

I always fancied the Prudential Ride 100…I’ve never been massively into cycling, but I do now have a lovely road bike after doing the Paris Triathlon a few summers ago.

So I signed up for it and figured I’d use my marathon fitness as a starting point to start building up my cycling mileage over the summer.

But you know, all good plans and all that!!!!

The marathon got cancelled, I spent months at home barely leaving the house, and it was looking highly likely that the Prudential Ride would be cancelled anyway…so I just figured like so much of the COVID bullshit, I would just have to accept it.

But then.

As part of our Thrive Inside challenge during lockdown, PT Elle Linton started doing a regular Wednesday indoor cycle session, so I got my turbo trainer out of its box and at 6.45 most weeks (Ok some weeks), I would sweat it out in my front room.

I moaned each time but secretly I was so grateful that I was actually doing some high impact sport.

Then it came to me…what if I bought a Peloton bike. I’d tried one once in a funky hotel gym and adored it. But ooooooohhhhh the cost eeekkk!!! But then I figured…I’d not been out for months, hadn’t bought any clothes, had cancelled my CrossFit Gym Membership…like why not?

I had to do something I could do at home when the little one was asleep or preoccupied with Disney+

And so on the 24th June the big day arrived and my bike was delivered.

I was hooked. My love of fitness returned, and I was training every day…sometimes twice a day.

And with this new confidence and motivation came the need for a bigger challenge, and that’s when I saw that Prudential Ride 100 had gone virtual….I also saw that one of its charity partners was Pancreatic Cancer UK…and knew it was a sign.

My dear friend Bryony Thomas, or Watertight Marketing had been diagnosed with this terrible cancer in December, and I can’t imagine what she has been through the last 8 months.

Having felt so powerless to do anything remotely helpful, it became a no-brainer that I would do this challenge….but by the time I registered I think I only had 4 or 5 weeks to prepare.

Things were going well, I built up to an hour on the bike no problem, taking my times down, building up power and confidence.

AND THEN??

Summer hit, work got busy, I took a short break to Scotland…and then the small matter of a UK heatwave, and I never did quite get round to doing the bigger mileage on the bike.

Not advisable by the way.

I wouldn’t have cancelled though. I know myself. I know that even if it took me all weekend I would do it. And then before you knew it it was the day before and I was completely unprepared.

  • What to eat
  • What to wear
  • How to occupy my brain
  • How to measure my times
  • How to keep my 7 year old occupied

I woke at 7.20 am on Saturday morning. Rose was in my bed but I had everything laid out and knew if I was quiet I probably had an hour or so before she would wake.

Ride Segment 1 – 7.30am – Feel Good with Ally Love

We love Ally Love, me and my 7 year old Rose. Ally is gorgeous inside and out, and like most of the Peloton instructors, she looks right through the camera at you when she shares her motivation and inspiration throughout the workout.

60 minutes, 12.52 miles…oh and 619 calories burned.

I would realise a little later that here began the first of my problems. I probably should have eaten or taken on some fuel before or during this race but I waited until after.

(Fuel – Two eggs and two slices of wholemeal toast)

I had set up a fuelling station on my bedside cabinet. Oh, I was doing this from my bedroom by the way, the least disruptive place for Rose, and with access to a big window.

My fuelling station consisted of bananas, naked bars, zero tabs to add to water for electrolytes etc, oh and a green smoothie I’d knocked up at breakfast. I needed more variety…something salty and/or some sweets would have been nice later on in the ride.

Ride Segment 2 – 9.44am – 90 Minute Power Zone with Matt Wilpers

I knew I had to get some big blocks in, and I had done a 90 minute ride just once before. Rose had had breakfast and was busy watching a movie. Her dad was coming to pick her up at lunchtime so I didn’t feel too guilty about the screen time.

The ride was OK. Long, obviously. But I love power zone training, as its never anything too ridiculous. My output was pretty steady the whole ride, and I even managed a little flourish at the end to get across the 18 mile mark.

I was riding an average of 12.5 miles per hour…slightly slower than I would attempt in a single session, but I was trying to pace myself.

(Fuel – A naked bar, the green smoothie (after the ride) and a pan chocolate, which I had actually bought for Rose but went down a treat, don’t worry there was more than one in the pack)

I was 30 miles in, and had spent 2 and a half hours on the bike…but by this point, we were halfway through the day, due to breaks between sessions to sort Rose, and to refuel and readjust clothing etc.

It was very humid, even with the window wide open and a fan. I was wearing padded cycling shorts and a jersey from Pancreatic Cancer UK….but boy oh boy was I hot. Later I would strip down to my bra…not giving a damn what the neighbours thought.

Ride Segment 3 – 1pm – 60 Minute Power Zone Ride – With Matt Wilpers

This was a live ride. The previous two were old recordings, and although there is still interactivity, doing a live session raises your spirits and there were a few people who knew I was doing this challenge so I got extra high fives.

This is where my lady bit problem started to emerge (sorry TMI), it wasn’t chaffing, but was more pressure soreness. I could get relief by standing up and riding (which after a while hurt my quads) or sitting up and taking my hands of the bars and cycling which meant losing power.

It was at this point that I started to worry. I could go on for hours and hours with this pain. I also started to need more fuel. I had burned close to 3000 calories and the humidity was getting me too.

I finished with a distance of 11 miles…just as Roses dad came to collect her for a few hours.

(Fuel…I stopped for some lunch. I had a coronation chicken-filled sandwich and a strawberry milkshake (again Roses). I realised I really hadn’t prepared myself very well.)

I also had a bath. I absolutely stunk. And wanted to be in fresh clothes.

Ride Segment 4 – We will call this my netflix ride

You can just choose to ride on Peloton with no instructor, and so for this segment I did just that. I set up my laptop with netflixs next to my bike and I cycled while watching the last few episodes of Dirty John.

This was probably my hardest ride of them all. I was in a lot of pain, and was bored of being on the bike. I wasn’t even at the halfway point, and we were well into the afternoon now.

I wanted to get another 10 miles in the bag…and I did…I was up to 52 miles.

(Fuelling, I had completely lost my appetite by now. I’d had a banana and another naked bar, but the thought of real food made me feel nauseous. Someone suggested a cup of tea and peanut butter on oatcakes…which went down a treat.)

At this point I also took some advice regarding my saddle position…and with a slight adjustment tipping it slightly forward, it took the pressure from my lady bits and reassigned it to further back to my butt…which until this point was doing OK.

Ride Segment 5 – 6pm – 60 minute Groove Ride with Cody Rigsby

I knew I needed music and fun, and every class I have done with Cody has those two things in abundance. I had done this class before and knew it was a tough class with quite a bit of choreography and even some arms stuff. I just ignored all of that and focussed on keeping my output as consistent as I could. I actually burned the most amount of calories in this 60 minute class, a whopping 1226 but only managed 11 miles…ha ha I say only!!!

The class was fun, I wasn’t in as much pain down below, but I was completely spent.

(Fuelling…other than water with electrolyte tabs…I’m not even sure I had anything.)

After I got off my bike I literally just laid on my bed and cried. I actually cried myself to sleep. Before hearing my daughters voice emerging from her Dads car. They were back.

“How many miles have you done now” came my daughters Dads quite innocent question

“60 I said”

“Oh I thought you would have finished by now” he said.

Uuuuuurrrrrggggghhhh

It was actual 63 miles!!!!

Anyway I wasn’t going to expel any energy in explaining how hard it actually is riding 100 miles in a day, in fact we once went for a cycle ride together on holiday in the lake district…a total of 24 miles…20 at least of which he moaned at ha ha

Anyway, I gave Rose her Dinner…and ended up giving her dad mine…as I had no appetite to eat to chilli and rice I’d made the night before.

Once he was gone I had plans to jump on a live zoom call with Bryony and some of my clients, to see if some company would help.

Ride Segment 6 – 8pm – My zoom with Bry and the Gang

I got back on the bike at 8pm knowing I wouldn’t be able to do much more. I told Rose 30 minutes and then I’d stop and do bedtime. I must say she was an angel the whole weekend, didn’t moan once.

I switched on the laptop and loaded up Zoom and wasn’t sure who would join, but low and behold a few lovely ladies did. It was great saying hi to Bryony and waving at her husband and mother in law who were all at home in Bristol.

A few of my clients joined in, and my friend Mel, who I’d stayed with last week in Scotland…reminding her of how much I had huffed and puffed as we climbed the Berwick Law a hill (or as Rose and I liek to now say “The Mountain”) my lovely client Rebecca showed up on her static bike in solidarity, as did Nikki on her treadmill, and a new lady Liz, who had only signed up to my running club that day.

It was lovely having some company, but it didn’t really make the cycling any easier. I was fatigued, and not really able to speak much sense. I think we all knew at that point I’d be calling it a day.

37 minutes, and 7.5 miles later, I did call it a night.

(Fuelling. Still had a weird appetite. I hadn’t really done a good enough shop to have enough choice. Ended up making two rounds of sandwiches. I probably should have had a protein shake too but wasn’t thinking straight…oh and I had one of these)

After putting Rose to bed around 9pm, I sat and chatted to one of my besties on the phone for about an hour…nothing exercise-related, just holidays, and work, and plans for the future. It was a welcome distraction.

I rolled into bed at 11pm…dreading the following morning.

Ride Segment 7 – 9am – 90 Minute HRZ Endurance Ride with Christine D’Ercole

I knew I had to just get back on the bike. I knew I needed a big chunk and I knew I’d need someone to motivate me. and Christine would be the woman for that for sure. Her motto??? “I am, I can, I will, I do” on the Peloton website Christine is described like so,

“Christine D’Ercole is a decorated track cyclist who brings this expertise to every Peloton class. Grounded in science, music, grit and grace, Christine believes that at all times you have two tools at your disposal: your breath and your inner monologue. In her class, you can expect Christine to empower Members to break through self-imposed limitations, and embrace their authentic selves and strength, both on and off the Bike.”

My description is that she is one kickass angel of a woman.

I actually cried on the bike with some of the things she said in this class, especially the bit about how women try to minimise themselves, and that weight loss should never be the only reason to step onto your bike.

I needed a bit of Christine this morning…I probably didn’t need a whole 90 minutes though, and realised that the way forward from now was going to have to be shorter bursts.

This session gave me another 16 miles…I was now up to about 86 miles…so close but bloody hell so much still to go.

(Fuelling…I had been better this morning. I had taken on a protein-rich green smoothie first thing, and started a little later. Straight after my 90 minute ride I had scrambled eggs, half a cheese toasty and a strawberry milkshake)

Ride Segment 8 – 30 minute Prince Ride with Alley Love and Emma Lovewell

People had been raving about this ride, so I was glad I left this towards the end. These two powerhouse women absolutely smashed this session and I couldn’t help but go with them.

My average speed went back up to 13.1 miles per hour, and I managed 6 and a half miles in just half an hour…and I enjoyed it. So much so that I didn’t even take a break, I went straight on to the class I knew I would leave to last.

(Fuelling – Half a banana)

Ride Segment 9 – 30 minue – Dolly Parton Ride with Robin Arzon

This ride has without a shadow of a doubt been my favourite peloton ride so far. I’m not a massive fan of Dolly Parton…or her music until this ride, but literally this was what my legs and my soul needed.

My favourite bit of the ride…other than riding to the beat to Jolleen??? when Robin quoted my favourite all time quote of Dollys (and there are a lot to choose from)

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose”

I was so close to hitting 100 miles. Dollys ride added an extra 5.56 miles to the tally…taking me up to 98.82 miles…there was only one thing for it.

Ride Segment 10 – The final live push

I opened up my laptop and set up a live stream into my Too Fat to Run communities.

I was a sweaty, beetroot faced mess, but I didn’t care…I didn’t want to cross the line alone. I had asked Rose if she wanted to join me for the final bit and she was like “nah its ok”

And so I would do it with the love and support of my ladies, who would get it instead.

There were around 30 people who joined live, and their words of encouragement were so good. I tried to share what the experience had been like and why I was doing it in the first place. Bryony was on the call and of course that made it even more emotional.

And then I was so busy talking I looked down and realised I had done it, I had done the mile and a bit remaining to take me to 100 miles.

I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t…at the 50 mile mark I was certain I’d just give up.

What a bloody rollercoaster.

So many lessons learned…

  • Fuel yourself properly (you wally)
  • Have a plan
  • Believe in yourself (always)
  • Ask for help
  • Involve others
  • Make it fun

(Fuelling. I’d love to be able to tell you I spent the rest of the day stretching, hydrating and refuelling properly, but that would be a lie. I was taking Rose to a birthday party in a park…which ended up getting rained off..but not before getting completely soaked while popping to Tescos for a gift and picnic stuff…we ended up getting McDonalds instead..my first in 8 or 9 months I think…and then we ended up in the pub…where it literally took me all afternoon to drink one fruit cider.)

I always ask myself why I do these big challenges, if there is something wrong with me for undertaking such enormous things.

This time I had the strongest WHY ever.

To get cancer is bad enough, but to be as unlucky as to get the hardest to treat one of them all, Pancreatic Cancer is a massive blow for anyone….AND then to have a global pandemic which had an impact on treatment, and on the ability for loved ones to support you…that’s truly fucked up.

Bryony, in true Bryony Thomas style, has been an incredible advocate for cancer patients right from her diagnosis. She has fundraised, shared her story, done TV, print media and radio interviews demonstrating the impact of COVID for cancer sufferers.

Did you know…the pandemic has increased waiting times for some pancreatic cancer treatment by up to 2 months. But half of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within 3 months.

They can’t afford to wait that long.

So Bryony and I are both using our networks to get support using this petition it is simple to fill in and takes less than 60 seconds to show your support.

Imagine getting the news that you might have 3 months to live unless you get treatment, but there is a two-month wait before you can even get to see a doctor? Imagine that for you? Imagine that for someone in your family? Imagine that for one of your friends?

I’ve managed to raise over £1500 which I’m chuffed with, but I know there are more folks out there that would like to support this cause..imagine if all of my followers donated just £1…it means taking action.

Here is the link

Funding is used to help with specific research into this cancer, but also to support patients and their families with specially trained nurses and other services.

Today I have woken up tired and a bit stiff (mainly neck and upper body), and I have sore wrists…but actually my legs feel OK. The DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) will probably kick in tomorrow.

After months of being unmotivated to exercise, I feel like I have got my mojo back.

I am looking forward to getting back into a routine of regular exercise, starting off with my bike, introducing more strength and yoga classes, in preparation for September…when I will be attempting to get back into my running again.

A massive thank you to everyone who has supported me over the weekend.

  • 100 miles cycled
  • 8 hours 53 minutes on the bike
  • 5 outfit changes
  • 6139 calories burned
  • £1500 fundraised

One heck of a weekend, for a super important cause, and wonderfully dear friend.

And I will leave the final words to Dolly,

“You’ll never do a whole lot unless you are brave enough to try”

Oh and a photo of me and Bry when we took ourselves off to Florida, for one of the biggest speakers conferences in the world…you know, just because we could.

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