Thursday, August 12, 2010

BST2010 Report

Still recovering from his exertions at the weekend, Raj sends this report:

Day 1 - Winchester to Steyning

The plan to do 60 miles on Day One was a tad much!

We started at 8am and were still riding at 9pm.

We had a BST first-timer with us (Dan Bzowski) who was riding a Scott hard-tail, which shook his fillings a little, and meant we were averaging between 3-4 miles an hour at the beginning.

The hills were long and steep, and the loose chalk and gravel made riding difficult in the rain.

I would definitely never attempt it again without GPS:  although the entire route is signposted, it is unclear at times and temporary diversions were poorly marked.

We ended the day at 9:30pm at Steyning.

Day 2 - Steyning to Eastbourne

The second day promised stunning views, and although the hills continued, there were some excellent downhills which were just about manageable with the chalk making the ride a lot rougher.

The signposts were a little less relied upon as the coastline was visible and one of the riders doing the route in the opposite direction pointed us in the direction of Eastbourne.

Overall, I would definitely not recommend attempting this on a hard-tail as Dan would confirm.  I rode a Rocky Mountains Slayer with 160mm of travel but that didn't save me from saddle burns!

We only had one puncture throughout the journey which was a refreshing change from the North Downs we did with BST three years ago.
So far the total raised is about £1,000 but I will confirm once I've made sure everyone is going to donate has done so.
Well done to Raj, Michael and Dan from everyone at Blood, Sweat and Tyres!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blood Sweat and Tyres 2010 - The South Downs Way

I'm glad to say that, in my absence, BST regular Raj Patel has stepped in this year to organise a ride along The South Downs Way - 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne over the weekend of 7th & 8th August 2010.

Raj is looking for riders to join him, Mike (another BST regular) and Dan and raise more money for The Haemophilia Society.

For more detailed information and to register your interest, please contact Raj directly:

Phone: +44 7733 301622 (Send him an sms to get his e-mail)

If you would like to support the ride and make a donation, you can do so here:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Le Jog 2010 - Aftermath

Just a short update as I thought it was interesting to look back on the end-to-end ride and let you know the impact it’s had on my body! Unfortunately since the end of the ride I've been experiencing some pretty nasty muscle cramps, to the extent that the longest I've managed to stay on a bike without being forced off due to pain is 8 minutes! I guess I've got to allow my body a bit of a protest after putting it through such an intense week though. The ride was monstrously hard, the prevailing wind let us down as we faced a headwind for 6 days out of 7, and our bodies were pushed to limits they'd never evencontemplated before. After 7 days (54 hours, 38 minutes and 13 seconds in the saddle), 908 miles (average speed 16.6mph), and 13,133 metres climbed (who knew how hilly GB is - that's 1.5 times the height of Mount Everest) we rolled into John O'Groats broken men. For the last few days of the ride pretty much every bodily part hurt - knees, back, neck, thighs, quads, calves, feet, wrists. My stomach was ok, but when we arrived in John O'Groats at 7.30pm after a monster 135 mile day into a fierce coastal headwind and discovered that we couldn't have a photo next to the famous sign because they take it down at 5pm to stop people dodging the £10 photo fee I was almost sick. So you can add stomach to the list too.

I’ve been along to the hospital to speak to a doctor and a physio about the muscle problems I’ve been getting. Pretty much all of my leg muscles are currently prone to seizing and spasming at any given time. I was fine for the first couple of days after the ride, with just a few aches and pains, but after driving back to Sheffield and being cooped up in the car for a long time I really started suffering. Walking became hazardous and cycling was definitely not possible! It’s definitely easing off as the days go by, but I guess my legs are in some kind of a state of shock. It’s not a haemophilia problem, and I’m sure it’ll wear off soon, but I think it shows that with a full time job it’s very difficult to fully prepare your body for such an event. Probably I should have carried on spinning on the bike on the days immediately after finishing though, to loosen things up and to wind down gently – so that’s my advice for anyone else considering doing something like this!

Thanks again to everyone for all the money you gave, it definitely kept us going during some of the tough sections. We were shocked by how much we raised.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Le Jog 2010 - Justgiving

A massive congratulations to Nick and Simon for their top effort cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats, seemingly battling the wind all the way!

Don't forget, you can still donate to their Justgiving page where they have already raised over £2,500!

Le Jog 2010 - Day 7

19/6/10. Drumnadrochit to John O’Groats: 133 miles, 8hrs 21 mins, 15.9mph

Today was quite horrendous!

After 0.3 miles we had to stop briefly because my thigh cramped up, and then after 1 mile we rode past a sign warning us of a 15% gradient coming up as we climbed away from Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness.

After 6 days, nearly 800 miles and virtually no time to warm up on what was a chilly morning it was not what we needed – especially as the climb went on for well over a mile and was around 15% throughout. We ground our way up, but the hilly roads continued for many miles (in fact all the way to John O’Groats) and we both suffered with muscle cramps for the first couple of hours of the ride.

We’d been joking that in recent days we had found that it was taking about 100 miles each day before our legs started warming up and feeling normal, but today it was definitely true! Things were made worse by a temperature of only about 10 degrees and a very strong head wind which promised to hamper our progress all the way to John O’Groats.

After struggling for 30 miles it was quite demoralising to see a sign saying 90 miles to Wick which we knew was almost 20 miles short of John ‘O Groats. We were grateful that our domestique Lorna stepped in to take a couple of 5 mile turns in our second stint which took us up to 62 miles for the day. Domestique Rich then took over and helped us out, although by that stage we were on the coast road and facing some steep climbs, which combined with the wind made the going very tough.

At one point Rich dropped off the back on a particularly steep and windy section and we thought we had seen the last of him, but as the road flattened out we were shocked to see him storm back past us just in time to take his next turn on the front. He’d buried himself just to help us out – brilliant work by a super domestique.

Often the wind was coming at our heads diagonally, which made sheltering behind the rider in front difficult on the busy road as echeloning out put us in the way of the traffic coming from behind – especially as the wind was strong enough to blow us out further in to the road unexpectedly – but as we got further north the traffic eased and we were grateful again when Lorna helped us out for a final time. Simon and I continued taking our 5 mile turns throughout, but having someone else to share the load with definitely helped.

Finally we passed through Wick and knew that we only had 20 miles or so left. Once we turned off the main road there were a couple of final ascents to be made before the final, longed for, descent into JOG. It was with a huge sense of relief that we rolled down side by side past the support crew for the final time, at about 7.30pm. Day 7 had been the toughest of all, as the northern winds placed an extra obstacle in our way. However, after 903 miles and just under 55 hours of riding we’d finally reached our destination. The days had been long and gruelling, and there wasn’t a part of our bodies that didn’t hurt. Over the last couple of days I’d spent quite a lot of time thinking about whether the pain of the ride and the likely reduction in my life expectancy was worth it, but the health economist within me told me that due to the huge amount of sponsorship we’d managed to raise it was definitely a cost effective event!

The satisfaction at the end also went a long way to making us feel better, although unfortunately while pain may well be temporary whereas glory is forever, I’m pretty sure that the aches, pains and exhaustion caused by this ride will last for quite a long time!

This was undoubtedly the hardest challenge and biggest adventure that I’ve ever taken on, and I’m pretty sure that Simon felt the same way.

It’s been incredibly hard but also an unforgettable experience.

Huge thanks must go to Lizzy, Suzie and my Mum and Dad who followed us all the way, carried our kit, put up with our grumbles and groans every morning and evening, and most importantly cheered us on enthusiastically at every opportunity.

I’m sure that our speed increased by at least 1mph every time we passed them in a lay-by, or when they passed us hooting their horns. Dad was also the main motivation behind deciding to do the ride. Rich, Lorna and Gaz also provided us with much needed help on the road as they performed domestique duties.

And all the people who sponsored us and texted us before and during the ride helped push us along the way.

When you’re in the saddle for many hours every day, taking alternate 5-mile turns on the front without any conversation as you try to push along as quickly as possible, there is a lot of time to think about many things – and thinking about all the people who had given to our cause very generously gave us all-important extra impetus.

I’m not too keen on sentimentality, but my thanks also have to go to “The Machine” Simon. I’d once envisioned the possibility of doing this ride on my own, as I knew it was a big undertaking for someone else to agree to. But I’ve lost count of the number of times during every day that I thought to myself that I could not have done it alone. From the first mile out of Land’s End to the last mile into John O’Groats, facing a head wind on 6 out of 7 days, neither of us missed a turn on the front – sheltering the other from the wind – and at no point during the 903 miles did either of us drop the other. Putting all the hours of training in since planning this trip in the Autumn of 2009 had worked out perfectly.

I’ve experienced a new level of dedication to sport, and although I’ve enjoyed it I’m looking forward to a few weekends when I don’t have to spend all of my time on my bike – so now for a rest!

Le Jog 2010 - Day 6


Alexandria to Drumnadrochit: 135 miles, 7hrs 45 mins, 17.4mph

Today was a day of highs and lows.

This morning I was seriously tired and seriously worried about being exhausted and still facing two days of getting on for 140 miles each.

The start of the ride didn’t get much better either, with a solid headwind, busy roads and poor road surfaces as we rode alongside Loch Lomond. We started the long climb up to Crainlarich after about 30 miles, which was followed by another long climb up to the top of Rannoch Moor. On the way up our legs started feeling a bit more normal and we passed the Support Crew, complete with the newest two members – my brother Rich and his girlfriend Lorna.

They were to be our domestiques later in the day, which provided us with a morale boost. The summit of Rannoch Moor was not followed by the easy descent that we expected – instead there was lots of flat and lots of wind, but also spectacular views. Eventually there was a bit of down-hill to Glen Coe, where we stopped for lunch and meet up with the Support Crew.

Our route map suggested that although we had only covered 69 miles – half-distance for the day – we’d done the vast majority of the climbing, so we started feeling a bit better. Rich performed domestique duties for us for the next 49 miles, taking 5-mile turns with Simon and I (we’d been doing 5 mile turns each right from Land’s End, and found it made a huge difference to have an extra rest before we hit the front again each time). As a result we made very good progress to Fort Augustus where Lorna took over from Rich for the final 18 miles of the ride. We got through them equally as quickly and finished on the shores of Loch Ness in Drumnadrochit in plenty of time for England’s second World Cup match.

Unfortunately we weren’t rewarded with a half-decent performance!

Still, only one more day to go now, which left us feeling much chirpier than on previous evenings. All the aches and pains are still there – knees, ankles, wrists, necks and shoulders are all causing problems (as well as other more sensitive areas), but one more day is all we need to put up with. We’re hoping the headwind that we’ve been facing will ease down a bit – today was the windiest we’d had since day 2 – but we fear that as we get closer to the coast the wind may increase and the temperature may decrease – knee warmers are at the ready!

Le Jog 2010 - Day 5


Carlisle to Alexandria: 139 miles, 8hrs 9 mins, 17.0mph

This is getting really hard now.

Simon and I are both exhausted and can barely walk.

We were discussing on the bikes today which parts of us hurt most.

Simon struggled to pick between his knees, ankle, and rear end. And that’s not to mention all the different leg muscles, the neck, back, shoulders, hands, wrists and even feet. I’m pretty similar, and now my shin can be added to that list after a spectacular puncture sustained while descending the Erskine bridge at about 25mph which involved me riding over some kind of metal object which jumped up and hit my shin before ricocheting backwards and shearing the valve off of my inner tube, which resulted in an immediate loss of all air in my tyre!

Luckily a lump on my leg and a very minimally buckled back wheel were the only damage done.

Today was a very long day. We were lucky again with the weather, but long periods on the busy A76 were very draining. The scenery was spectacular though, and when we got on country roads south of Glasgow the ride was very pleasant. It’s a good feeling to be in Scotland, with about 645 miles down and about 275 to go. But we’re very tired and the next two days are both long and hilly, and we’re hoping that the long stretches of very rough road surfaces that we encountered today aren’t a reflection on what we can expect in the next couple of days – our rear ends simply won’t be able to take much more!

Le Jog 2010 - Day 4


Chester to Carlisle: 138 miles, 8hrs 19 mins, 16.6mph

We had an extra early start this morning because we had to catch the ferry across the Mersey, and we had a lot of miles to cover to make our overnight stop in Carlisle.

Luckily we had Gaz, Simon’s neighbour, for company for a good chunk of the ride which provided some welcome relief in the wind. After covering the 20 miles to the Seacombe ferry in time for a 9am crossing we made good progress towards Ormskirk, until our sat nav slightly unhelpfully directed us on to a dirt track for a couple of miles.

We managed to avoid punctures though and ploughed on to Preston for our first stop of the day, before continuing to Lancaster where we met up with the Support Team. Unfortunately Gaz’s pedal fell off shortly before Lancaster, and he got a puncture as we came into the city centre, so he had lunch with us before getting the train back to Chester.

After Lancaster the terrain became noticeably hillier, and after Kendal we started the long climb up to Shap Summit. The weather was good and the climb was not as bad as we had feared, it was even quite enjoyable (especially passing a few other end to enders on the way up!). Having geared ourselves up for Shap, convincing ourselves that it was downhill from there to Carlisle, we were a little put out by the hills in and around Penrith, but we finally got to our B&B at about 7pm.

It had been a very long day and by now our legs (and numerous other parts of our anatomy) are getting pretty sore, but we seem to have ridden ourselves into the challenge and are able to churn out the miles.

It’s another very long day tomorrow as we head up to Loch Lomond, here’s hoping that our good fortune with the weather and mechanicals holds. We think we may even have had a light tailwind at some points today!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Le Jog 2010 - Day 3


Monmouth to Chester: 119 miles, 7hrs 11 mins, 16.8mph

If anyone ever tries to tell you that the hilliest part of the end to end ride is Cornwall, don’t believe them, certainly not if you plan on foraying into the small lanes of Monmouthshire.

After our tough day yesterday we were deeply concerned when the first 10 miles of today were up and down some viciously steep hills. At one point, when a steep downhill turned quickly into an equally steep uphill I was doing all I could to avoid coming to a complete standstill when my back wheel span full circle on the gravel road.

It was like the Zoncolan!

Simon and I both remarked on separate occasions that it was beyond a joke. Luckily, before too long we found our way back onto bigger roads and started making some progress. We had pleasant stops in cafes’ in Leominster and Church Stretton, where we met up with the support crew, and although there was a headwind it was only light and much less wearing than yesterday.

In the end, we upped the pace and finished with a decent average speed, which was quite an achievement considering we covered 13 miles in the first hour, and 28 in the first two hours.

Upon arrival in Chester Suzie’s Mum provided a great meal, and Simon and I cleaned our bikes ready for a very big day tomorrow.

Over 140 miles including the high point of our ride, Shap Summit, it should be an interesting one...

Le Jog 2010 - Day 2


Chulmleigh to Monmouth: 125 miles, 8hrs 10 mins, 15.8mph

We were right to be nervous!

This is definitely hard work!

Today we had a constant and strong headwind for the entire ride – there was just no let up. The only time we were sheltered was when we were going up a hill (which, in fact, was quite often). Even on the descents we had to tuck into aerodynamic positions to avoid being blown to a standstill. Unsurprisingly, all this had quite an impact on our general mood, and we were quite a lot more subdued than on yesterday’s super-fast wind assisted leg.

Luckily, we again avoided the showers, though we would gladly have swapped a soaking for a headwind (I think).

However, we made it, and we even had a particularly pleasant stop with the support team lounging on the grass in front of the cathedral in Wells for half an hour. They did a superb job fetching sandwiches, pastries and cakes for us, and generally trying to lift our morale before the final 51 mile push. Another bonus was a brilliant three course meal laid on by our B&B host in the beautiful surroundings of the Monmouthshire countryside (although I must admit that I was forced to go for a stroll and some fresh air after barely touching my pudding – my body hadn’t recovered enough to eat so much!).

It was a long day in the saddle today – much longer than yesterday despite only being 4 miles further. But it’s good to get it done – tomorrow is a similar distance but less climbing. A headwind is forecast again, but hopefully it will be a bit weaker.

Le Jog 2010 - Day 1


Land’s End to Chulmleigh: 121 miles, 6hrs 38 mins, 17.8mph

After a quick breakfast we drove the 6 miles to Land’s End, posed for a few photos, and set off on our way to Scotland at 8.45am.

Our legs were fresh and a strong westerly wind pushed us on much faster than anticipated. We have planned to have three brief stops every day to break things up, and the first was at Redruth after about 32 miles.

Unfortunately all the cafes were shut so we settled for pastries from the local Co-op.

Our next stretch took us to Wadebridge, and went by very quickly as the wind picked up and we spent some time on the fast A39. When we rolled into Wadebridge our support team were waiting for us and we had a toastie and milkshake each before heading off again towards Holsworthy.

After feeling extremely fresh at the 60 mile point we went through the usual 90 mile wobble as we began to feel the effects of our strong early pace. This coincided with entering Devon, which seemed to be noticeably hillier than Cornwall (although this was still nothing compared with the Peak District, for which we were very grateful!).

A few donuts in Holsworthy sorted us out, and we carried on to Chulmleigh at a reasonable lick. Unfortunately we had surprised the support team with our pace and we had to sit in our cycling kit at the B&B waiting an hour for them to arrive. It turned out that our pace had been beneficial as 20 minutes after reaching our destination the rain that had been hot on our heels all day arrived, but we were safely sat in the warm and dry. We all had a nice pub dinner before heading home for an early night.

Things had gone very well on our first day, but we were well aware that this was one of our shortest (although hilliest) days, and that we’d had a steady tailwind throughout, propelling us to an average speed of 18mph. With the weather forecast predicting rain showers and a north-easterly wind for the next few days, we went to bed a little nervous...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

LEJOG 2010, Day 0, St Just, 12/06/10

Nick's pre-ride post:

"I’m currently sat in the loft room of a nice little B&B in St Just, with the sun beaming down through the windows. My legs are cleanly shaved, feeling fresh and raring to go, my kit’s all set out ready for an early start in the morning, and England are about to play their first World Cup match. Things are looking good for LEJOG 2010! We decided we’d drive down to Cornwall with a day to spare before we start the ride so that we could have a nice restful day, and that’s worked out quite nicely. I’m not sure it was wise to get in the sea though – we were fooled into thinking that it wouldn’t be freezing cold by the blue sky and sun bathers. I’m hoping that it acted like an ice bath though – good for the leg muscles before the upcoming slog.

Things weren’t looking quite so rosy a couple of days ago, when after not fully recovering from a sore throat after the best part of two weeks resting up I decided to go to the doctors just to check nothing was wrong. It turned out that I had a throat infection and was prescribed a 7-day course of anti-biotics. Not the best preparation for LEJOG, but I’ve definitely improved since starting the penicillin and I reckon I’ll be close to 100% for the start in Land’s End tomorrow morning. Hopefully the time I’ve had off the bike in the last couple of weeks due to my throat and a work trip away won’t cause too many problems either, hopefully the training miles are still in my legs bursting to get out! Anyway, what with taking an anti-biotic tablet every 6 hours and my Factor VIII and injection kit all set for a prophylactic dose tonight I feel like a real cyclist! Hopefully there won’t be any dope testers...

Mum and Dad arrived in St Just a little while ago, it’ll be great having them and Lizzy and Suzie supporting us along the way. Our Just Giving pages have also been really active in the last week or two and all the sponsorship will provide great motivation as we pedal along – so thanks very much to everyone for that!

I’m going to try to provide some updates on the ride over the coming week, although that could be a bit restricted by internet access and tiredness. Fingers crossed!"

Monday, May 31, 2010

LeJog 2010 - Post 3

Nick sends us this update as his ride draws ever closer:

"So now we only have 2 weeks until we begin our end-to-end ride. Daunting though it is, training is still going well and Simon and I have both done more miles in May than in any single month ever before! I’m currently on 666 and Simon’s on 715. That puts us at 2770 miles (171 hours) and 2443 miles (151 hours) for 2010, which is double the amount I’d done at this point in 2009. Considering I’ve always done a lot of cycling, that’s quite a big difference. Although I’ve enjoyed doing so much riding, I’m looking forward to spending 10 or more hours on my bike every weekend – it’s pretty exhausting!

I was quite interested to see how my body would hold up to increasing my hours in the saddle so much. I’ve lost a bit of weight (although there wasn’t much to lose) and I’ve had one or two minor colds, but overall I seem to have adapted to it pretty well. I had to give myself one injection of factor VIII a couple of weeks ago after I got a sore ankle after a hard training weekend in Chester, but one dose cleared it up completely and I was back on the bike after a couple of days. I spoke to my Haemophilia doctor recently and he advised that during the ride itself it would be a good idea to dose myself every other day, just to be on the safe side. I was grateful for the advice, since I think I tend to under-treat myself. It was certainly different advice to that which I got when I was growing up – when dosing just so that I could play sports was not recommended. Overall I’m sure my cycling helps with the Haemophilia – my dose a couple of weeks ago was my first for 13 months.

Since my last post my cycling has been going through the roof! Lizzy and I had a relaxing week’s holiday in Scotland, but even that involved a few short bike rides, as well as about 40 miles walking and 7 Munro Mountains conquered! A training weekend in Chester saw Simon and I ride 110 miles on the Saturday and 50 on the Sunday, and then the following weekend we did the same again in Sheffield. I then did 123 miles on my own in 30 degree heat on this weekend just gone, so we’ve been getting plenty of 100 mile rides in. When I have visited Simon in Chester, or Simon has visited me in Sheffield, the plan has been to get a really long ride in on the Saturday, followed by a shorter one on the Sunday. That gets us used to getting back on our bikes after a long day, and means that whoever needs to drive home on the Sunday evening doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel!

The weather’s been a bit changeable – yesterday it was baking hot and I couldn’t drink enough, whereas two weeks ago I went out for a ride with the local cycling club one evening and came home with blue lips and numb fingers due to the cold! Somewhere in the middle would be nice for mid-June.

We’ve hired a Garmin bike sat-nav computer for our ride and have tested it out a few times on our recent rides. Although not perfect, it’s going to save us a lot of time stopping and looking at maps. The photo attached here is our print out of our route right from Lands End to John o’Groats – I’m glad we won’t need to take this in our back pockets!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LeJog 2010 - Post 2

Nick Latimer sends this update on his training for his LeJog:

"Since my last blog our sponsorship money has been rolling in and we’re now past the £1,000 mark for the Hameophilia Society! Thanks to all those that have contributed so far, it really is great for the motivation.

The training has also continued, and everything’s going well. I’ve been wearing my nice purple Haemophilia Society t-shirt with pride (Lizzy is very jealous of it, but I’ll allow her to wear it while in our ‘support car’ on the ride) and Simon and I have made a big dent in the energy related cycling supplements kindly donated to us by BST.

We’ve had two dedicated training weekends since my last blog, and many miles have been covered. Training weekend 1 was in Chester (Simon’s home) and we did 101 miles on the Saturday and about 60 on the Sunday, including a fair few Welsh hills. Unusually for us we were riding pretty sensibly and didn’t destroy each other too much. In fact we were pretty well matched, which bodes well for the ride itself. Training weekend 2 was in Sheffield and went marginally less well, mainly due to getting lost on the way to York, having to ride through the middle of Barnsley, Pontefract and Castleford as well as up the road used for the National Hill Climb Championships in 2009 (alright, I’ll admit it – I planned that part), Chris (another training companion) getting two punctures, all in constant and torrential rain! In the end I’ll admit that we got on a train back to Sheffield after 65 miles. However, this will not happen in June!

In between our training weekends Simon and I have both been getting the miles in on our own. The all important stats show that I’m now on 97 hours in the saddle in 2010, with Simon lagging slightly on 74. I’ve also done a spot of racing (see photo), which has been ‘interesting’. At the end of February I did the North Road Hardriders event, a 25 mile time trial taking in every hill possible on the outskirts of North London (which is a lot more hills than you might imagine). Unfortunately the weather was against us, with temperatures of about 2 degrees, strong winds and constant and torrential rain (again). I got round although it was a tad cold. One of the other guys competing was taken away in an ambulance with hypothermia. Skin suits, lots of rain and freezing temperatures aren’t a good mix!

I watched the Sport Relief ‘Million Pound Bike Ride’ last week, which was great for bringing home the reality of what riding from one end of Britain to the other will be like. The celebrity riders did a great job in what were sometimes awful conditions. They were only doing about 26 miles and 2 hours at a time though, and were still exhausted. For us it’s going to be 140 miles at a time, for 7 days. Thinking about that, and looking at the map of Great Britain that I’ve printed out and stuck together (it’s the length of my kitchen) makes me a bit concerned. I never realised Scotland was so long!

Please donate to keep us going: "

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alex Dowsett: Interview on

Alex spoke to Procycling's Ellis Bacon about living with haemophilia, almost chastising Lance Armstrong and Pippo Pozzato being nice to him!

Monday, February 22, 2010

LeJog 2010

Nick Latimer sends us his first blog post about his forthcoming LeJog later this year:

"So, now that things are beginning to appear in various places on the internet it seems like there’s no way out – from June 13th until June 19th this year my friend Simon and I will be riding from Lands End to John O’Groats. 1,000 miles in 7 days, about 140 miles per day. Could be a bit of a stretch, but now it’s definitely happening! In truth, quite soon after the first time I said I’d quite like to do it – back in September last year – I knew that I’d have to, because once I’d said it I couldn’t not. So, now that we’re well into 2010 we’ve got our fund raising well underway ( and I got in touch with Blood Sweat and Tyres to let them know about our ride.

Within 3 days of my initial email to BST I have received a huge box of energy related cycling supplements posted to me by special delivery, two (very nice purple) Haemophilia Society t-shirts, and now I have my first ever blog! It’s amazing what progress can be made when you get the efficient people at BST and the Haemophilia Society involved.

Anyway, a bit of background as to what I’m doing on the BST website and why I’m doing LeJog. I’m 28 and I was diagnosed with haemophilia at birth, as was my twin brother, Rich. We were tested because my Grandpa was a haemophiliac so my Mum knew that she might be a carrier. My brother and I took turns to have problems as we grew up, one of us helping the other along on crutches or accidentally tipping him out of a wheelchair one week, the other getting revenge the next (funny how that happens. I can’t remember both of us ever being seriously out of action at the same time). In general though, we got along fine and were lucky. Having originally been diagnosed as having 1% or less clotting factor, over time tests have changed and our levels have varied. Currently one test says I have 1%, whereas another says I have 4.5%. To all intents and purposes 4.5% seems realistic as I don’t need to treat myself very regularly (although I always have a batch of Factor VIII in the fridge just in case).

At least partially I put that down to keeping fit and active throughout my life. I plan on having an exercise bike to keep my muscles protecting my joints well into old age. Sometimes against doctors’ advice Rich and I played football a lot at school, and we both did a lot of running, representing our county on various occasions. The only sport we missed out on was rugby, which neither of us were too bothered about. When we were about 18 we both started having quite a few hip problems, probably due to running training. The time came to give up running and I soon took up cycling which gave my joints a rest.

So since then I’ve been cycling, gradually doing more and more, competing in a few races here and there. I’ve ridden in the French and Italian Alps as well as the Pyrenees, and have ridden over most of the Tour de France cols. With my haemophilia in the back of my mind I don’t go quite as fast as my friends on the descents though!

Last year my Dad got cancer. He’s doing really well, but it made me think and one thing that came into my mind is that I haven’t really done much for charity since my days in the Scouts. But if I was going to do something for charity, it had to be something hard, something worthy of sponsorship. For a keen cyclist, LeJog seemed the obvious choice, so plans were made. I spoke to my Mum and Dad, and they were very keen that we should collect money for the Haemophilia Society, which has done great work for my family in the past and which, as a small charity, needs as much support as possible for the future. Given Dad’s situation we’re collecting for a cancer charity too, but it was important to us to try to help out the Haemophilia Society.

We’ve planned a route for LeJog, which is a good start. We think we’ll probably have to invest in a Garmin thing though, as otherwise we’ll spend most of the 7 days getting lost and will end up riding about 4,000 miles! I’m not sure I could do that in 7 days. The next job is to start booking up B&Bs. We’re very lucky that Simon’s wife Suzie, and my wife Lizzy are going to follow us in a car. Hopefully my Mum and Dad’ll come along too. Not having to carry all our kit will make things a lot easier (although I daresay still quite a challenge).

Of course the most important thing for us to be doing now is training. I’m quite pleased with myself today as last night I totted up how many hours I’d spent on my bike so far in 2010. My maths tell me that I’ve done 48 hours, which is pretty much double what I’d done by mid-February in 2009 (yep, I have a training log, so I know these things). This hasn’t been easy, what with work, the snow we’ve been having recently, and because I live on the edge of the Peak District which is pretty icey at this time of year. However, in November I invested in a stationary turbo trainer which links up to a computer, allowing me to ‘virtually’ ride all sorts of real life routes, including famous alpine climbs. So I can do a lot of my riding from the comfort of my own conservatory! I highly recommend this. I read Alex Dowsett’s blog (which is great, and very inspiring for a fellow haemophiliac) a few days ago, in which he said that he couldn’t stand riding on his turbo trainer – I see his point, but I reckon he might change his mind if he was trying to beat his best time up Passo Stelvio (the highest mountain pass in Italy) – much better than just looking at the wall!

For the record, I insisted that Simon tot up his hours in 2010 too – he’s on 33 hours. Needless to say, I will not let him forget this until he catches me up!

So now that I’ve given you a bit of background, in the coming weeks and months I’ll update you on how preparation is going for LeJog and in the meantime, please donate to the Haemophilia Society! I’m off to ride up Mont Ventoux… "

Friday, February 19, 2010

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage Six

"Today went well, although I was worried as there was a bit more wind than previous days.

I almost made the break but did a typical me and hesitated that made me sit in no mans land for a while and then miss it completely. One of our Ben Kings (aussie) was in it though so that was good, they stayed away till inside a few km to go so I'd have been gutted had I missed it.

We came into the Doha town centre bit on the coast and did 7 laps of that, was pretty much a motorway width and up and down between two roundabouts and one in between if you know what I mean!

Anyway I stayed really well positioned throughout, 3 of the boys got tailed off on the circuits in the crosswinds, then there was a split right at the end. I stayed up there right to the finish. The difference between today's finish and previous days was it was a lot faster - we were hitting 70kph regularly on the straights.

At the finish I just kept the pressure on and was going around a lot of people sitting up from leadouts or not bothering, Taylor included and I wound up 22nd which is pretty good. I thought I may have snuck inside the top 20 if I was lucky but it wasn't to be.

Either way it's opened up my 2010 CV

Also finshed 70th overall, just the 13 minutes down but with names like Cancellara, Wiggins and Pozzato behind me which again will go on the CV!

As a note, the whole 700km of the race was run at 44kph, around 27-28mph.

I've got a day of travelling/rest/an easy spin tomorrow before the Tour of Oman kicks off with a twilight 60km (6pm start) crit, 4 road stages and finishes with a 20km TT on road bikes, normal wheels and normal helmets which will be brutal!"

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage Five

"Not such a good day today.

Started off in a crosswind so was very fast and a break just managed to get itself away right at the end of this 25k section.

I didnt get out of my top 2 gears for 25k and the top speed on the flat was 72kph!

But we were pretty much over 55 the whole time. I had a few goes at getting away but it wasn't to be, so I was in the bunch for the majority of the race it was run at a decent pace and then ramped up at the end, with a crosswind.

I helped Taylor out a bit but it was so hectic there wasn't a lot I could do.

With 25k to go in a crosswind the bunch split. It's annoying because I was too far back by about 5 places and missed it, was then caught in between the split with 5 other guys and rode flat out to try and get back on.

We got caught by the group behind and I was gassed...really gave too much when I was in no mans land. I should have known better here really.

Went out the back of the second group but got into the cars, recovered and made my way back into the second group and finished there.

Another big learning day.

It's annoying though at the finish when I'm not going to sprint. I feel like I get in the way of the bigger teams who are sprinting so I have no reason to be there. I'd rather just stay out of trouble, yet today staying out of trouble resulted in me getting into all sorts of trouble and it looks bad when I'm in the second group yet I feel I might have been capable of being in the front group.

Oh well, will see what tomorrow brings."

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage Four

"Pretty uneventful day today.

Light winds again so things followed a routine format. The break went from the gun, was crazy, 3 guys went then O'grady got to the front and put his hands up to stop everyone as if to say 'I've decided this is the break everyone now respects that and lets it go.'

Which is exactly what happened!

We had Jesse in it so another good show for the team. Vacansoleil rode on the front all day to keep the break at a safe distance so the pace was just decent all day.

Was nuts at times...these guys fight so hard to be at the front for each roundabout and turn in case the wind has an effect on the riding, then sit up straight after because there is barely any wind.

Taylor can't ride a bunch to save his life so I got on the front and rode in the wind for him for 5km from 20-15k to go till the bigger teams took over.

Then just finished in the bunch, 63rd I think.

Feeling good still!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage Three

"Today went pretty well.

I got in the early break of just 3 riders after a couple of k - they went then I jumped across. The bunch held us at about 10-15s for 5km and I did most of the work keeping us away.

Then they let us go and the gap went up to a min, so I thought that was it, but there was meant to be a 95k section of crosswind so the bunch got nervous and belted it into the roundabout before this crosswind section for good positioning. We got caught and then the there was no crosswind so the bunch sat up, which was a shame as we should've been out all day.

Either way I had a lot of reporters after me after the stage and Axel was pleased.

I just sat in for the rest of the race it was an easy day. The bunch sprint which i didn't get involved with, Jesse and I tried to help Justin out, but we were getting pushed around by the bigger team so much it wasnt worth it.

I'm feeling pretty good and it felt good going in the break and in the bunch.

Apparently there's not meant to be a lot of wind tomorrow either so it could be another easy day. If so, I will try and get in the break as it's much more fun!"

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage Two

"Stage Two went ok, but was a really weird race!

The first hour and a half was headwind and a break of two went away and built up a lead of 22mins!!

We were barely heart-rate didnt go over 100bpm for this leg.

Then though we turned into a crosswind and it went crazy, I was really well positioned...nicely tucked away from the wind and well up the front, but one thing led to another though and I got forced off the road into the dirt.

I got back on and back in ok and carried on and was seeming to cope ok, but then hit a cateye!

No joke, the road is littered with them and I'd already hit a fair few but this one managed to blowout my front tube!

I waited ages for the team car as it was right at the back of the convoy, and when I got going again I really struggled to make my way back up and by this time the bunch had split in two and then into three.

I eventually got into the 3rd group and stayed there.

The downside is I know I could have finished further up but this race is as much about positioning and avoiding stuff that's going to affect you i.e. the cateye.

As it is about form, the upside is that I had a reasonable 100 miles today so I should be good for tomorrow. I ate too much before the race and was bringing it up when I had to push after the puncture.

It's difficult getting back into racing knowing what to do in terms of food/drink/food on the bike etc.

Taylor finished one group ahead, maybe 2-3mins, two teammates in my group and four in the group behind.

Learned alot!

Tomorrow may be all crosswinds though so it going to be tough.

Break did stay away I think but just; SKY had a terrible day, Arversen broke his collarbone before the race started, Wiggins, Downing and Nordhaug were in my group, Flecha in the group behind. Hagen punctured.

Im reasonably happy that nothing happened today and I'm not in bad shape for tomorrow."

Alex Dowsett: Tour of Qatar 2010 - Stage One

"The Team Time Trial went ok, but not brilliant.

I was pretty nervous as there was alot expected of me and I knew I hadn't put the work in for all sorts of reasons: uk weather; california weather; altitude problems, but I gave it my all.

We finished with 5 riders and I was about 3rd or 4th strongest. I maybe went out too hard and gave a lot in the headwind sections and struggled towards the end.

Although we finished last we were close and considering the average age of our team is 20 it isn't too bad.

We were only 2 seconds off ag2r which is a Tour de France team and 40 seconds off Team SKY who won it. 20 seconds off 5th and 6th place so although we were at the back, we were expected to be and were not too far behind.

Should make for an interesting tour!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lands End to John O'Groats 2010!

Nick Latimer and his friend Simon Hearne are planning a LeJog (Land's End to John O'Groats) this year in aid of The Haemophilia Society!

Nick is 28 years old with moderate haemophilia. He does a lot of cycling and a fair bit of racing, although he wants to point out that he is not quite up to Alex Dowsett's standards!

His ride will be 1,000 miles over 7 days in mid-June this year, with his friend Simon so that's about 140 miles per day!

Nick will be sending us regular updates over the coming months, but in the meantime you can find out a bit more information and donate at Nick's fundraising page:

Good luck to Nick and Simon for their ride and fundraising!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alex Dowsett: The Highs and Lows of Bike Racing - Part Two

"California was an interesting camp, good old sod’s law reared its head again as for the 6 days we’d be staying there the worst storm in 5 years hit!

This meant 1 day of fine weather riding, 1 day of wet weather riding and 4 days of my beloved turbo training ensued! Needless to say I cracked again on the last day!

Otherwise it was a good camp, was good to meet back up with the team, plus a few new faces and talking seriously about the year ahead - I’m pretty excited about it!!

Next stop was Boulder Colorado, my hometown for the season.

The first thing that hit me was the cold fresh air - at 5,430ft at altitude small hills became mountains and mountains were unrideable because of snow!

I prayed for a bedroom on the ground floor as a flight of stairs would leave me breathless, but it wasn’t to be! The team house is nice - Reed who is one of the team sauigneurs (carer) has sorted and kitted it out - the man is a legend!

I did have a few teething problems, setting up a bank account was easy but the bank managed to spell my name wrong which wasn’t ideal and buying a mobile phone was nothing short of a nightmare!

Basically it would’ve been easier to buy a gun than a phone but it’s done and I’m now the proud owner of a Blackberry and a fine dent in my new bank account!

On a more serious note I did come down with a bout of altitude sickness. After a reasonable steady 3 hour ride into the hills I came back feeling like I’d finished a Tour de France!

I spent the afternoon in bed yet it wasn’t until that evening when I got up to make dinner it hit me - it felt like I was mildly suffocating on thin air as well as being nauseous and vomiting! Mum phoned the hospital to see if it could be Haemophilia related and Reed bought me some energy/electrolyte drinks round to get me re-hydrated as I’d dropped 3kgs in 12 hours!!

The hospital said it wasn’t related but I should have factor 8 due to possible stomach tears from vomiting. I took the following day off then gently eased myself back into training, keeping my routes very flat.

Otherwise I’m pretty well settled into the house and the city is nice, everywhere is very spaced out and I described it as feeling agoraphobic to my Mum and she seemed amused that I didn’t like all this space!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alex Dowsett: The Highs and Lows of Bike Racing - Part One

In this post, Alex tells us about his winter training, Christmas and his first training camp with his new team:

"Hey everyone!

Hope all your Christmas celebrations went well and a happy new year too, I spent the whole break with my family which was lovely!

I spend a lot of time away from home and I miss Mum & Dad and Lois tons so I guess that makes the festive season with them extra special. We used to go away on holiday but now that I spend most of my time away I personally prefer some time away from hotels/airports etc and although I’m reminded (in a light-hearted way of course) about what they sacrifice in terms of holidays so I have my own way I really appreciate it from them.

The camp in Tucson, Arizona in December went very well. It’s a pretty amazing setup within the new team and made even more inspiring by the fact that Lance Armstrong himself was there along with his team mates from the newly formed Radioshack Pro team. It became clear early on that the emphasis of this camp was more of a ‘meet and greet’ than actual training. We did ride everyday but not very long or hard.

Our days were far from empty though as there were always new sponsors to meet and hear them talk about their products. It was amazing to see each of them had the same thing in common: to give us whatever support they could and to encourage us to give them feedback on their product. These are some big companies and it’s an honour to be asked to help them let alone have them helping me!

We had a couple of nights out and I gelled well with the team. They found me pretty novel being the ‘Brit’ and I seemed to be able to make the guys laugh just by talking about nothing in particular!

Training at home over the winter was interrupted by the weather.

I spent a fair few hours on the mountain bike or on the turbo trainer which, for those who think this sounds cool I can assure you isn’t, it’s a static road where you can set the level of resistance and I also like to refer to it as an instrument of torture made worse by my sadistic nature of wanting to see bigger power and heart rate numbers each day!

Needless to say I cracked and couldn’t bear to see the sight of the thing, let alone ride it!

I’ll have you know I did in fact train on Christmas Day, although when I say training, I did an hour loop to the pub!

The first half of January went pretty quickly and before I knew it, it was time to leave good old England and head for the States, this time though for a long spell until June/July. I thought I was used to leaving and figured this would be no different. Although it’s further away from home, the way I see it is that away from home is away from home whether your in another county or another country, but this was different – it’s the longest spell I’ll be spending away and it did dawn on me then that America is quite a far away, not just from my family but from things like knowing I have the Royal London Hospital if I get into trouble or anything.

I put this to the back of my mind though, as a cyclist if you think things like crashes and punctures, they usually happen immediately so I try and put that negative stuff away into a small box labelled ‘sods law’ in the back of my mind and that’s where all this ‘what if’ stuff went!"

Next time Alex tells us about training in California and his home for the season: Boulder, Colarado!