The Big Challenge…

Hi there and welcome to this weeks blog, I’d like to start by saying thanks to all the groups where I post this on Facebook.  I’d also like to say thanks for all the e-mails I’ve been receiving over the last few months. It’s these emails and comments along with the likes that helps me continue running this website.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had quite an eventful time.  With the summer now coming to an end, I’ve started to look at carrying my new waterproof jacket and when to get the winter bike dusted off.    

I also found my summer bike was becoming a little difficult to ride, this resulted in me looking for the reason why.  I also found signs of cycling all around my local city of Bath, which I have never noticed before but realised it was all for the Tour Of Britain.

I’m also getting ready for the big challenge, yep the Hell’s 500 and Everesting challenge.  I know the other riders joining me on this challenge are training well so I need to get my legs spinning.

Anyway let me get on with the blog so you can get on with the evening. 

bath

I don’t know if any of you have been watching the recent Tour Of Britain but wow, cycling really does seem to be growing faster than ever.  There’s a few things I’ve noticed though that are both relevant and important.

The first thing I’ve noticed is how well organised the whole thing has been, I know its probably caused a little disruption to the traffic but its worth it.  Through every town village and city it seems as though the riders are 100% clear.  Which brings me onto the other point, it appears the crowds here in the UK seem to have more respect for the cyclist than any where else in the world.

When you watch the race have a look, the crowd are all stood to the side keeping well out of the way of the cyclists.  Yeah you might see a couple of sections where a few knobs want to stand in front of the pro’s.  Most if not the rest of the races the crowd seem to be stood by the side of the road, allowing the pro’s to have the space they need.

I enjoy watching the races from France, Spain and here in the UK but I don’t get why so many cyclists feel the need to get as close to the pro cyclists as possible.  Give them some space, they don’t need someone dressed as a naked clown to run along side them for motivation.  As funny as it looks, I’m surprised there’s not been an accident from some plum running along side them.  Just recently in Spain a spectator caused an accident which ballsed up the riders chances of a win.

Other than that, the race’s have been really good, lots of fast action and change of leaders it’s brilliant.  It just shows how efficient a group can be when they all work together and as for the bikes.  There are some really nice bikes this year but what I want to know is what happens to all the pro bikes after they’ve finished the season.  I mean, do the riders keep them after the year, or do the teams sell them on.  Let me know if you have the facts on what happens to the used bikes, just drop me a msg.

Like most of you I try and get out on the bike as often as possible, weather and wife permitting obviously.  On the most recent ride which happened to be an evening I noticed a few things that clouded the ride.

The first thing was how quick the evenings have started to get dark.   It feels like the summers not even been here and were heading into the winter already.  Not only that but there seemed to be a huge amount of bugs flying around wanting to hide in the vents of my helmet.

On a more important notice though, it’s time to dig those lights out again.  I took my moon lights hoping not to use them but this wasn’t the case.  Even though I gave myself a good few hrs the light dropped really quickly.  One thing I did notice though was they didn’t seem as bright as I remember, but for the amount of time I’ll be out in the dark I’m not worried. 

It was during the last few rides I noticed my bike was acting a little odd, I know this sounds funny but it really was out of sorts.  So after a few rides I wanted to see what and why it was feeling weird to ride.  The feeling from the bike was that it felt like it wanted to be upright and go straight.  I mean it felt like the bars wanted to stay in the centre.  The way I noticed it more was when I wanted to go no handed, I’m usually quite confident when it comes to riding no handed but not with the bike acting like this.

After a relatively faster pace, I returned home and set about stripping the bike down.  On first inspection I noticed the bearings in the headset were centralising, this had a certain feel to it that the bars notched when facing forward.  That was all I needed to get about stripping the headset, as normal I removed all the bearings and cleaned them out.  Unlike a video I saw recently I never used water to clean the bearings out, which I have to say I spent a while trying to convince the person that water was a definite NO NO to any bearings.  So I used the relevant cleaner to remove any old grease, allowing to dry and then re greased.  Cleaning the forks and placing the bearings back into the correct location I re assembled the bike.  After tightening the bolts to the required torque settings I was ready to go.  I have no idea what the problem was but the bearings were fine and work fine now.  So hopefully this should fix the feeling of the bike wanting to centralise itself.

The Big Challenge

What made you want to take up cycling, was it to get fit or because you have a love of cycling.  Some of you might of started cycling because you wanted to do all of the previous but also because you might of wanted to have something to aim towards.

What I mean by this is why go out on a weekday or weekend and ride all those mile’s without having a goal or something to train for.  I started as a dare to ride 56 miles in aid of Prostate Cancer, and as a result I’ve never looked back.

I went from training to do 56 miles to riding London To Paris, as well as all the other rides I’ve done since then.  One thing I can confirm though is there’s no better way of raising money than doing a big ride for a charity.  This is probably the best way for some of us if not all of us to ride those rides we see everyone else doing and want to do.

Once you get into the routine of cycling and covering the longer and harder miles, you’ll ask yourself that question we all ask.  What challenge can I do next, how far do I want to push my ability and stamina.  Well you’ll either look at a long distance within a certain time, or want to ride in the worst of weathers and the toughest of terrain.

It’s my love for hill’s that helped me make my next decision but will it be the challenge that breaks me, will I fall into the band of brothers who have tried this challenge and failed to complete it.  One thing I want to stress from the beginning is I’m going to merge two challenges together into the one big challenge.

So what’s this big challenge, well I’m calling it “Hit The Peak” this is where I combine the two challenges into one.  These two challenges then, well the first one is the Everesting challenge where you pick a hill and you have to ride it continuously, till you reach the height of Mt Everest (8848 meters).

This challenge has to be done on the same hill, using a GPS unit to record the ride.  Your allowed to have a rest and you can take as long as you wish but most have done it within 30 hrs.  One thing you’re not allowed to do though is sleep, at no point during the challenge are you allowed to have a quick power nap. 

The next challenge that’s going to be moulded into my challenge is the Hells500,  this is where you ride a number of hills to the height of 10,000 meters.  Now you might of noticed I said “hill’s” and yes I did.  The Hells500 has a few different rules this could complicate my big challenge so I’ll keep it simple, unlike the Everesting challenge you can do the Hells500 on a loop of hills and straights.  Plus you can also have a sleep if you feel the need to recover. Huummmm nice and sounds perfect, but is it really. 

If I’m going to do the Everesting Challenge then why don’t I just combine the two together and make it one big Challenge.  The Monster of all challenges, riding the same hill enough times to reach the height of 10,000 meters. For those of you who want that in ft its just under 30,000 ft, which all of a sudden sounds huge.  I mean if I’m riding to 8848 meters why not push onto the 10,000 meters.

Now in order for me to do this challenge I made sure I carried out my research, which to be honest was the stupidest thing I could of done. Lets be honest its obvious really when setting out to do something so big you need to know as much about it as possible, but there’s some things I wish I never knew.  What made this worse was when I got in touch with a few riders who’ve attempted to do both the Everesting and the Hells500.  Again not my cleverest idea, but worth it.

So what did I find out from these who have managed to get there name on the list of riders who’ve  accomplished this epic challenge. In short it wasn’t good, what I never realised was that the Hells500 has a really high failure rate, its something like 92% of those who attempt it have…yep…FAILED.

( One thing I want to say at this point is that when I told my wife I was doing this challenge I never told her about the failure rate and some of the injuries incurred during and after attempting this challenge. )

Why was this figure so high, if they can rest and have crucial stops why is there such a high rate of DNF.  The answers are pretty cutting.  Some stopped through shear exhaustion others stopped through time restraints and going so slow they would of fallen asleep as soon as they stopped.  Then there’s those who felt broken and I mean broken, from mentally quitting because they couldn’t get there body to do one more pedal stroke.  To those who have ended up in hospital with problems like exhaustion, severe cramps, fatigue, falling off the bike, sleep deprivation and complete shutdown from the body not including those bike failure’s.  In some areas heat exhaustion also showed its head and nearly put a stop to one rider on a permanent level.

This is the worst case though lets not forget the % that have managed to complete this Epic Challenge.  It’s not until you look at the challenge on paper “as they say” when it really sinks in.

Before I get onto the challenge in detail, let me tell you about my motivation, like I said at the beginning I need to have a point to aim at.  For this challenge I have what I class as a truly amazing charity.  The Bristol Children’s Hospital are by far the reason for me to complete this Challenge.  In short they saved my daughters life and if you have your own children or younger family members you’ll understand the love I have for them.  When a child ends up in hospital it’s like your world has just collapsed, there is no feeling like it.

Imagine our thoughts when we’re told they have to remove half of our 6 month old daughters skull. Yes half of her skull and if they don’t our daughter will grow up disfigured and with mental disabilities.  We just wanted her to be OK as would any parent, we felt completely helpless and in the hands of the doctors.

Just to show you how much they removed I had them take a picture to remind me every time I want to stop.  Have a look yourself and then tell me you don’t want to hold your child tight be glad there well.

So how can I re-pay my gratitude for helping our daughter have the life she deserves, I’ve made it my mission to raise money for The Bristol Children’s Hospital.  If you think “ Yeah but there nowhere near us” this may be the case but there are so many children sent to Bristol because of the facilities and Doctors they have working there. So I hope you never have to visit this hospital but if you do then you’ll understand my reasons for wanting to raise as much as I can for them. Help make a difference by making a donation just follow the link here donate,  https://www.justgiving.com/ridewithdel/4w350m3/Donate?clientCache=True#MessageAndAmount

Anyway let me explain on how this challenge is going to work, from the information I managed to collate there’s a few factors that’ll help make this achievable.  Imagine your local hill that everyone avoids, its steep and a right old lung buster, well this is the wrong type of hill to try a challenge like this on.  If its steep then it’ll guarantee to beat you up and spit you out, resulting in the fear of that hill every time you ride out.

A large number of riders who have completed the Hells500 all said the steepest hill you need is about 6-7% with a distance of around 1-1.5 km.  If the hills to steep then you’ll end up over working the legs and muscles ending in fatigue and muscle failure fairly quickly.  If the hills long with a few variable climbs then this could be a contender, but there is a problem with this.  If the decent is long then you run the risk of your legs stiffen and the lactic acid building up, not good for getting going when you reach the point of starting the climb again.

What I found was a large number of riders who have completed these challenges agreed that the perfect hill is between 6-7% and about 1km long.  Well after a load of hill climbs and practice rides, I’ve managed to find one and it ticks all the boxes.  So I now need to get as much in place as I possibly can to make sure I’m able to complete this challenge.

When I went on the London To Paris ride, I met some really nice people along the way.   Even now I still keep in touch with them all and I was really chuffed when one said they would love to help.  Knowing there are people out there who are wanting to help in any way possible is brilliant, So far I have my local bike shop who are going to come along and help support us.  Then my friend from the L2P ride is going to come up and help with there skills on relaxing our legs and making sure they don’t cease up.

Having someone there to help make the time go easier is also going to be really helpful.  If you fancy a ride out and even want to try and overcome the fear of hill’s, then please feel free to come along and ride with us.  I asked a few riders if they wanted to join me on this challenge but it’s not your every day challenge.  So far I’v managed to pursued a couple in joining me on this monster challenge and there no stranger’s to a challenge or two.  Jason Smith is known for loving a challenge or two and after completing a number of cycling challenges has now got the bug.  Then there’s Jim Bob who’s been riding bikes for what seems like forever.  He’s also one not to shy away from a challenge after completing untold cycling distances.  This was one he wanted to complete.

  If you want to have a go at this challenge, then your more than welcome to come up on the day and have a go or offer some support. 

Where is this challenge going to happen, well I’ve rode pretty much all the hill’s within a 50 mile radius in order to find the right hill.  The location for this Challenge is set win a beautiful little village with all the village requirements, a river a church and a pub.  What better place to use as a base of operations, somewhere that’ll fit our needs and requirements. Where we can use the facilities and the spirit will flow through us all (not literally but a possibility).  Yep the Kings Head Pub in Lower Coleford is the perfect position to complete this challenge.

I’ve managed to find the perfect hill, plus some facilities to change and rest or get a hot/cold drinks.  Plus the pub also said they’ll look at doing a barbecue during the day for all those who are going to help and offer support helping raise money for the charity.  With all this and a sports therapist all I need to do now is get some media coverage and raise money.

About the hill,  It’s around 1.2 km in length with a maximum elevation of about 7%, but for the most of the hill its around 6%.  There are a few areas that level off to around 2.5% which is nice for a little rest for the legs, however just after the rather gently part of the hill it goes straight into the steepest part which happens to be at the end of the climb.  Then it’s a case of turning around and heading back down the hill to do it all again.  I’ve worked it out that we’ll be doing the hill 178 times, which……yeah should be fun. I think it’s around 133 miles, on a positive note, half of the miles will be down hill.

I’ve been on this hill for a few training sessions and there’s a few little areas that might make the challenge even tougher.  One being the hill in question is located in an old village where the only way in is around the lanes, this is where the first problem may come.  As the road won’t be closed we’ll have to contend with all the passing traffic through out the challenge.  Then there’s the weather, this is as you would expect out of any control but will have a huge impact. 

If for example we happen to get a bizarre and freak heat wave, the heat will be a huge problem.  This will cause us to require more water during the challenge, preventing any dehydration.  Plus we have to make sure we don’t get sun burnt.

If however it rains, which is a good possibility, this will also cause problems.  Not only will we be getting wet, we’ll run the risk of cold spells, this isn’t all though.  With it being a hill challenge, the decent will be a problem if the brakes are wet.  Even though the challenge is on the same hill ,we’ll have to be super vigilant making sure we’re able to complete the challenge safely and in one piece.

Please feel free to come along and help in any way possible, you can either support from the sidelines or bring you’re bike and ride a few reps with us.  Your being there will make all the difference in moral and support.  If you don’t want to ride, came along and support us by having a pint and cheering us on.

This is one of the hardest challenges out there and there’s a small few who have managed to complete it, this is why we like a challenge.  To be included in the elite few who have completed something so tough, wins Kudos straight away.   Once we finish and hopefully complete the challenge, not only will we get on the score board, we’re also entitled to some honourable accolades.

These are wearable items and only available to those who have completed the challenges,  the first is the Everesting challenge.  Once you complete this you’re able to wear the 3 drops in red, white and blue.  Then for the Hells500 your rewarded with the Grey Stripe, this is a symbol for those who have rode the challenge and completed it.  You can only buy these products from the Everesting Website along with the Hells500. 

If I’m able to complete this challenge I’ll take it to the next level, I’ll get the grey strip tattooed around my leg along with the 3 drops.  I know I’ll have it forever and anyone else who’s done the challenge will see I’m one of the few, who have completed the Hells 500.

Hope you enjoyed this weeks blog, over the next few weeks I’ll be showing you the oval rings from AbsoluteBlack.  I’ll also have the wonder mix from Spiz, which claims to be the wonder product for sports, plus I’ve been testing the new chain from KMC.  I’ve also been testing my new Gilet which I bought at the last bike show in London, plus I’m up at the NEC Bike Show in a few weeks. 

Please like and share the website and Facebook group.   If you have any questions or you’d like meet, look into anything, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment on the blog.  Well it’s that time where I need to head off to work, so I’ll see you next week with some details on the bike show at the NEC. 

If you’d like to help out on the challenge but cant get up on the day a small donation will make all the difference.  Don’t forget to leave your name when you do so this way I can personally say thanks, here’s the link to donate just think you’re helping a child get better.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridewithdel

Till then stay safe and remember Smile 🙂

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