Spokes and Strings is a blog by Kez Hodges, reflecting on her training for a solo cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for SSAFA Forces Help Lancashire.Advertisement
The ride starts on the 17th September and her aim is to finish between six to ten days. In addition, she’s also doing an extended version of the C2C ride in this October for the same charity, totting up just over a thousand miles in total.
I caught up with Kez to ask her about her upcoming cycling challenge, what it was like to prepare for such an arduous task, and her views on cycling in general.
What challenges have you faced in your training?
The first was to realise that I couldn’t do this on my own. I was clueless on how to structure a training plan and knew that this challenge would fail if I didn’t get help. I did my first charity ride last year. It was a 50 mile ride, the biggest I’ve ever done, and my so called training can, at best, be called random. My approach had to change.
So a cycling coach has written a training plan for me and this has brought its own challenges, the biggest of which has been adapting to a formal training plan. I have never done anything like this before.
Time and motivation cause their own challenges. I work full time and sometimes it’s too easy to come home and just flop.
When my motivation dwindles I have to mentally kick myself; I do generally feel very guilty when I miss a session and know that I have to play catch up…Actually all I have to do is think about my coach, who will quite happily yell at me over email if I just let it all slide! He’s written this plan for me based on the passion he got from my initial emails. To let him or the charity down would be awful.
On the bike my challenges have been getting used to the variety of training sessions which have been designed to build up my speed, strength and endurance. I find I’m always pushing myself and want to do better and better but forgetting that it takes a bit more time than I’ve been training. I’m not suddenly going to turn into a fabulously quick cyclist and I have to remember that. When I don’t I eat even more chocolate than normal!
I also discovered that I have a lot to learn, like how to fix my bike. I need to learn to eat properly and to keep on pushing myself.
There is one thing that’s not a challenge and that’s my love of cycling. Whilst the above can test me I absolutely love it. I’ve finally become a sporty person.
Your blog takes a nice lighthearted tone, would it be fair to say you’re trying to encourage others to do something similar to you?
I’ve never really though about it that way. The blog began last year when I started cycling more as a way to let people know what I was doing because it’s not something people can share, or would necessarily do. I never wanted my blog to be ‘ooh this is so hard’ and make it sound like such a hard trial. I wanted to write with honesty and hopefully reflect the adventure and the excitement of my cycling challenges.
I guess, if I’m honest, I’d love to encourage a sense of adventure in someone because this is partly what this challenge is all about. It was my decision to take this on and to support a charity. If I can do it, anyone can. Everyone should have a least one extraordinary adventure, and I would highly recommend doing one on a bicycle. So yes, I suppose I am trying to encourage people.
You say you’ve got a coach and that you couldn’t do this on your own. Do you still cycle recreationally with friends or otherwise?
I do have coach but by email only, I can’t afford to hire him to take me on training sessions. He sends me a four week training plan and then I send him feedback from each ride in week four, whereupon he sends me the next four weeks. It works surprisingly well.
I’m actually a lone cyclist. I’ve thought about joining a club but worry that I’ll be the one trailing behind the more experienced cyclists. I don’t want to hold people up. I’ve read a lot about how cycling with other people benefits your own cycling skills and I think that’s true. Maybe I’ll look at this in the future, I don’t know. It a little scary.
I love cycling on my own because of the total sense of freedom. I go off on my own little adventures and it doesn’t matter if I’m a bit slower or take a bit longer to go up a hill or which route I decide to take. The only person that’s going to shout at me is myself and I often end up giggling when I start to struggle or do something silly.
Through your training, what is Preston like as a cycling city?
I am planning to cycle to Preston in the summer as part of my training. I feel the city is really encouraging cycling which is brilliant. I would never be worried about cycling in Preston, in fact it’s something I’m looking forward to. I’ve also read about a beautiful ride in the Chorley area which I plan to do at some point.
I cycle, and I know what you mean about being intimidated by clubs. Do you think that this is something that they should work on, more inclusion?
This is a difficult question and I don’t have the answer. Every cycling club is different and has a different focus so I guess they are looking for particular cycling skills from potential members.
Maybe it would be nice if there was a more casual way of meeting some of the members without committing to anything. That way you can find out if the club will suit you without being invited to turn up to a random ride with the huge fear of not measuring up and being dropped. It would also be good if they could put some friendly information on their website for new members as to what they can expect from the club and vice versa.
I don’t know if clubs realise how intimidating it can be for people to join and maybe it isn’t purely their fault. It’s easy to blame the club but it could be that we let our own fear get in the way. I don’t know.
Maybe we should join a club together!
Haha! Yes, and finally: Is there any way people can get in touch with you/perhaps sponsor you?
People can follow and contact me via the blog and on Twitter. Over the next few days I’ll be putting up more information about the route and how people can sponsor me so the blog will get more and more exciting.
Any last words?
Firstly I’d like to say huge thank you to Blog Preston and to everyone who has taken an interest in what I’m doing so far. I really appreciate everyone’s support. Hopefully I can raise a lot of money for SSAFA Forces Help Lancashire.
Best of luck Kez!
Follow Kez on Twitter here.
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