Day 4, The final day of London to Paris – Part 1

Day 4 is here. I had a good night’s sleep in my air-conditioned room, however to my amazement when I went for breakfast to stock up on croissants the temperature had dropped and the predicted high was only 23°C. Already it felt like a great day for cycling compared to the previous day.

I was ready for it, just over 50 miles until I hit the outskirts of Paris, 15 miles through the suburbs of this very large city and then meet at the Louis Vuitton museum for the final few miles in convoy into the centre of Paris.

I got everything ready to go, all m luggage and bike box was on the truck and the next time I would see everything was going to be in Paris. Emotions were a little mixed if I am honest as I knew 68 miles on the last day were achievable, my legs were good, but I was not looking forward to it with my miniature and heavy bike. I should have been excited, but I was not quite there yet.

One particular thing I was looking forward to was meeting my wife Jo in Paris, being away for 5 nights has not been known before and I could tell when I spoke to her she could feel the pain and frustration I had been going through in her voice during numerous conversations.

Off I went, I set off alone and had a steady few miles out of the town and then started going through forest areas which were nice and flat, it still was reasonably hard work and riding Betty it needed relentless turning of those pedals to keep her going. Several riders passed my on the flat which would not have occurred so easily on Charlie.

I hit a hilly wooded area and there were patches of hanging heat and humidity, as I passed by them you could not catch your breath. Brought back memories form the heat of yesterday.

Once I got through the woods, I made my way down a fantastic descent that lasted around 4 miles, however I still had to push on to keep betty moving, normally I would be able to relax on these sections. I got her going quite fast at one moment and I heard a creak and a sound of plastic skidding across tarmac, I looked back it was the reflector that had fallen off, not too worry I am not stopping!

I did have a moment where I fell off my bike, this happened twice. This was mainly due to the size of the bike, I got my rather large foot stuck in the front wheel spokes as I turned at a very slow junction and then I was off !

23 miles in and I made the first water / fuel stop in reasonable time, it was clear people had set off early this morning as the goal was to make it to Louis Vuitton by 3 pm. I had a quick snack and off I went again. I started climbing a little from the water stop and it was very exposed, and the wind picked up quiet dramatically. For the next 20 miles until lunch it was a complete slog into the wind on heavy Betty, it was tough going. But before I knew it, we had done lunch and arrived at the final water stop on the northern outskirts of Paris near Saint Denis.

From Saint Denis, the euphoria started to set in as I knew in 15 more miles, I would be at the resting point ready to go into central Paris, a day before the Tour de France was to be welcomed.

The riding from here was all road cycling and even 15 miles from the centre it was busy, and I certainly had to have my eyes peeled. I rode for a few miles with a couple of ladies who were not impressed with the traffic or the French road system, so I took the lead for a few miles to navigate us through the maze of junctions.

We had formed a group of around 20 of us. Many of these I had not spoken to before, but as there were 157 on the ride you met up with new people all the time. The roads got more compact and busier as we got more central and all of a sudden, we turned down a street and there is was the Louis Vuitton museum together with lots of riders having a break.   

Suddenly I realised I had done it…..  4 more miles and I would have achieved what I thought was the impossible, I knew I could get on Betty and finish this….. 

Day 3.5 – Another eventful day, 46 °C and a new bike called Betty

That was it I was off on Betty, she was seriously over weight and I was scrunched up as she was too small. I had a couple of incidents where I acutely fell off the bike as I got my foot stuck in the wheel as I turned from a junction.

The next section of 30 miles was at altitude and appeared to be a lovely undulating section. I think it would have been great on Charlie as she would have rolled up the small inclines after gathering speed coming down the hills. On Betty this was another mater. I had to really push downhill as I could not get momentum like I would have done with Charlie, this made the uphill sections a bit of a bind.

The weather had turned and at one point several cycling computers had registered 46°C. It was getting dangerous and we were relying on the support crew traveling backwards and forwards topping us up with water, whilst I was adding salt.

It got to a point where I joined a small ladies group (one I met on other days) and we planned to stop every 5 miles and have a break and take on fluids, it was getting more dangerous as we went. One of the ladies ended up abandoning as she felt ill and four others ended up in hospital due to dehydration.    

At one section on the top I noticed the cycling was getting harder and I noticed the tarmac had melted and I could see the tyre tracks from cyclist in front.

As I went along again, I noticed a large automatic agricultural watering sprinkler that had hit the road every so often, so I waited as the heat was getting more intense but to my disappointment it never came, so after 10 I had to carry on. After I finished the ride I did find a group who was successful… I don’t know what was in the water, but it looked wet!

I never did catch the water !
But this group did….

From the last pit stop there was a steady 5% climb to the summit and then a few miles down hill with stunning views. As I had Betty to keep rolling I did not take any pictures as it even took effort on the downhill section. I road along with a lady raising money for a local hospice charity for the rest of the ride (apart from the last two miles). This was great as it took my mind of the intense heat and got me to the last night stop in Compiegne.

We got to the bottom on the big descent but as we hit the last 5 miles on the flat my legs started to struggl with this heavy bike and I was spent. I kept up with my riding friend for so long and then my water bottle which was nearly empty again flew off the bike as I went across a traffic island in the middle of Compiegne.

I did the fatal thing and stopped to get my bottle, I was done. My legs seized and, in the afternoon, hot sun I had given up and took shelter for 30 minutes under a pavement advertising hording, whilst I tried to compose myself in the heat of 42°C.

I had finished all my water / fluids and after around 20 mins a lady on her own came past and recognised my arm band, we all had the same colour on so we knew we all belonged to the same group. She asked if I was ok and I had told her that enough was enough. She helped me on to Betty and together we completed the last two miles which seemed an eternity.

When I saw the hotel, I felt complete relief and went to my room and just sat on the floor of a cold shower and then laid down with the air conditioning set at 18°C.

I have to say this was the toughest day, not due to the distance or climbs of the ride but that it was due to the intense heat and sun with no shade and the fact I was not riding Charlie was not helpful. On this day I drunk 14 litres of fluid (28 pints in old money) and never went to pass any water from 10 am !

For anyone this would be exceptional but for me as a kidney patient it was incredible.

One thing I know is that I did it and one more sleep before the final day into Paris.

Day 3 – Another eventful day, 46 °C and a seriously ill Charlie

Day three was upon us and it was looking like a really good route with lots to see and undulating terrain past the 30 miles mark, then a big climb and then downhill to Compiegne.

First thing was to get my new pedals tighten by the mechanic. I found Stuart, a quick tweak with an 8 mm allen key and all was good to go. it was already hot and touching 26 degrees at 7 am, by the time I got to my first water stop at 20 miles, I had already managed to drink the full 2 litres of water I was carrying. I refilled and had salty snack and off I went again.

I felt pretty good to be fair and the first 20 miles although a little hilly were fine. We all passsed some war cemetries and I stopped a few times to taek a look.

I continued from the stop and around 5 miles in to the next section my knee started giving me some grief. I continued but it got a little more problematic and it brought back painful memories of problems I had previously, and the reason I started cycling. Also, as I changed my cleats and pedals I did wonder if I had not got them aligned very well and putting undue pressure on my joint.

I just approached a football war memorial (more later), and I decided to stop to take a look and see what the problem was. I just came to a standstill, tried to unclip and the pedal stopped on my shoe and I realised the pedal had broken free from crank arm. Real disaster. I had a closure look and found my new pedal had stripped the internal thread on the crank arm, it was all over, I just knew it.

Back to the football memorial for now. you will see the image below and you can magnify to read the actual script. But in essence this was to recognise he men that took part in the advice on Contalmaison on the 1st of July 1916. Some of these men were made from Scottish football clubs where were fierce rivals, they put this to one side and fought together.

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I knew it was all over, I have spent many years in engineering this was not a road side fix. I called Jo my wife to give her the news and she could tell I was devastated and that I had been plagued by constant issues along this challenge and was truing into a challenge of the mind, more than physical. I was close to tears and felt finished to be honest. All the hard work I had put in and a simple screw and thread had let me down….. To make it worse the temperature was in the mid 30’s by now and I had to find some shade.

I made a call to the rescue rangers and in around 15 minutes Alex arrived and he told me what I already knew that it was the end of the road. he took me a few miles on to the lunch stop and told me he may have a spare bike I could ride. They looked at the possibility of swapping out the crank arms etc but as they were all differing sizes it just was not going to work.

I got to lunch and they revealed Betty to me, also sometimes she is known as the top gear bike. For those that don’t watch top gear when the three guys decide to do a challenge like crossing Africa in three separate inappropriate cars they always have a reserve which is something they would not want to travel in. So here is betty

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but this is. Betty looked ok from a distance, she had two wheels, a frame and dropped handlebars. However, I quickly discovered she was massively overweight (heavy) 2 sizes two small and only held a single litre of water and the time it was climbing to the late 30’s by now. The guys fitted my pedals and off I went.

To be continued….

Day 2 – Mechincal Problems… Arghhh

I had a terrible first night’s sleep in Calais, I just could not relax thinking of the previous day’s events and the heat was disturbing me all night. My head was spinning but fortunately my legs were feeling pretty good considering what I had been through the previous day with muscle cramps and spasms.

It soon became a bit of a ritual every evening on the day before getting everything ready, such as glucose and electrolyte drinks, glucose snacks, medication etc etc.

I noticed that the Garmin app on my phone had updated and I just knew that would be trouble. I had been using Garmin livetrak to let people know where I was and how I was doing during the route. It worked fine day one but since the update it later failed, surprise surprise.

I had breakfast, or should I say what I could manage, it was hot and I did not feel hungry so I tried to get a couple of croissants down me, but it was difficult I must say, I then tried some fruit salad to no avail.

I did speak to a couple of ladies during breakfast as one was wearing a Bluebell wood cycling shirt and that was local to me. The lady was from Barnsley and she asked how I got on yesterday, I told her, and both ladies said I needed some salt tablets and not just water. I had only got the powder but could not carry it around, so they kindly gave me some for the ride today.

Off we went, it was already hitting 25 degrees at 7:30 and off we set. It was a nice steady ride to be fair out of Calais. I soon caught up with a little cycling group of 4 (I mentioned this group on the last post) and I asked politely if I could ride with them. They were moderately paced on the flat and steady on the hills and that suited me just fine. I hit the first climb of the day, it was not steep but long. I don’t mind these as once you get your rhythm you can keep plodding. I got to the top and then carried on for a few miles. I noticed before hitting the next climb my right foot was not keeping in the pedal as my cleat was not secure. I called to the others to carry on whilst I stopped to take a look. At that point it was obvious that my cleat was broken and probably due to the fact I had to walk up the last hill in Dover due to my severe cramp attack that I had.

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I continued with my foot constantly coming away from the pedal on every single upstroke and then wobbling on the down stoke. In the end I cycled around 20 miles to the next water stop with one foot.

I got to the water stop and spoke to the Global mechanic who said I could not continue like that. They had no cleats and many others had the same problem. He decided to take me to the next town to see if we could get some cleats, we called in several shops who only had a different brand in stock (unfortunately the brand of the cleat only works with the same brand as the pedal). In the end to cut a story short I ended up riding in the van to Arras and missed out on 40 miles of cycling. I was far from happy about this and decided after the event I would do another 40 miles on French roads before returning to blighty.

The next challenge was to find some cleats in the city of Arras, I looked on-line and noticed they had a Decathlon in the city. I went to reception in the hotel and asked about walking to Decathlon, they said it would take around 30 minutes, not far but it had just hit 36 degrees in the afternoon sun. So, I asked them to get me a taxi. The taxi arrived and thank goodness it was air-conditioned, and the driver could not speak any English, but I managed enough to have a general conversation about Arras and found his daughter lived in Birmingham! We arrived and in I went, panic set in when I could not find them, everything seemed geared towards mountain biking to be fair. I ended up asking in broken French pointing to my feet followed by the word Velo. He showed me road racing section and true to his word they had cleats. Once again, my heart stopped no Shimano cleats on the shelves. I asked again and determined that Shimano cleats where order only. Ummm, but my new Decathlon French friend showed me some Look cleats together with pedals. Phewww complete relief, 40 Euros lighter but at least I knew I would be back on Charlie in the morning for day 3.

Back to the hotel, 25 euro lighter thanks to the taxi trip. During the trip the French taxis driver was very helpful showing me the sights of Arras like the police station, Marie office and then showing me facebook on his mobile phone showing me his family in Birmingham !

I got to Charlie and there were a couple of guys having a pint of liquid amber, it looked good in the 36 degrees of heat, but I promised I would not touch a drop until my challenge was complete. They helped me change my pedals, but I could not tighten them up as I did not have a 8mm allen key. But not to worry as the next morning I knew the mechanics would be here to save me yet again.  This ultimately could have started the next chain of disastrous events who knows!

 

 

On your marks, get set, go or should I say “allez allez allez”

It’s here ! it is 6:45 and I am on edge, the nerves have hit home. It is a stunning day, clear blue skies, sun in the sky and very little wind. The negative is the temperature, it’s already 21°Celsius .

I loaded my luggage into the truck which had the hotel name I was going to stop at in France. It was at this point realisation hit, because the next time I was to sleep was going to be in France and not the UK.

I listened to the induction of what to do and not what to do. The main info was water stops, food and what side of the road we need to be on. They went through the contact phone  numbers we may need etc.

Before I know it, it is 7 am and 147 of us are at the start line and off we go.

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It was a very slow start as we had to be ever so careful as with so many riders, if one person was to fall we would all be on the floor. image that on Harry Hills TV show, £200 would not go far between us all.

I got around half a mile and realised I had not got any gloves or map on me, I had left them in reception before I set off and I can’t say on here what and how it had happened but the bottom line is I had no gloves and my spares were well on the way to France. So that was to be the best part of 93 miles with no gloves and I can tell you gloves are essential for cycling any decent distance.

I got the first 20 miles in the bag and hit the water station, the temperature had already hit the late 20’s and you could tell some fellow riders were already struggling with the heat. I filled my bottles up with water and later in the day this would come back to bite me with a vengeance.

Next stop I was heading towards was lunch and it was around 24 miles ahead. I have travelled the country extensively but not on a bike and this really lets you appreciate the country side within the M25, as you always just expect it to be a concrete jungle.

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By the time I got to lunch it had hit 30°C and to fair not many people felt hungry. The food was great and loads of choice of real riding food such as pasta, potatoes and rice etc.  such a shame my appetite had all but disappeared.

Off we went again with my head down, not got time to hang around as we had to hit Dover for 15:30, we did not want to miss the boat.

I had never cycled in a group before and I must say it does make the miles go much quicker. I jumped on the back of several groups and one particular group was ever so useful. They were well paced on the flat and down hill the when it came to uphill section they were nice and steady and this pace really suited me especially in these hot conditions.  I talked to people about why they were doing the London to Paris, what charity they were raising funds for and why. I listened to some amazing stories on the very first day.

As I mentioned it was hot but I was on it and I was so glad I put the training in as I could certainly tell I had.

With 10 miles to go the fact I had been drinking just water hit me. I had several paralysing cramps in my right leg and this included my upper legs front and back and my lower leg. this then started on my left leg too but only lower. I had to un-clip myself whilst in agony or I would have fallen over. It took around 10 minutes for this to go and then I tried to cycle again, I was OK until I hit the final climb and once again it came back with vengeance.  I ended up having to walk the last part of the climb for around half a mile and I was in agony and it was even more difficult when walking in cycling shoes and cleats.

It was the last hill and then it was all flat and downhill which enabled me to complete my ride to Dover at the meeting point outside the ferry terminal.

So why did I have cramp problems, I soon realised I had washed out all the salts in my body by drinking just water. I needed to have electrolytes to replace what I was loosing in this heat. I needed a good source of electrolytes for the next day. I did have a mix of electrolytes and glucose in powder form but the amount I was drinking I could not carry all the powder. In terms of diabetes I have not mentioned it as I did not have a problem thankfully.

We all made our way together to the ferry terminal and seeing 147 of us certainly looked impressive especially as we made our way to the actual terminal before we boarded the ferry.

It was then announced once in the departure car park that our ferry was delayed for 1.5 hours so we all tried to get some food in the services and with 1 person working in WH Smiths, Costa Coffee and  couple in Burger King you could imagine the queues. the temperature was now in the 30s and the queues were that big that many an ice cream did not even make to the till and ended in the bin.

Back in the car park over my shoulder another 200+ cyclist arrived and then another 50. Both from different event organisers. It must have been agreed as all ferries were late they put all the cyclist (over 500)  on together instead of the other lot waiting for their original ferry. As you can imagine it was carnage when we got on board. We were supposed to get some food in but the queue was still snaking around the ship as we docked in Calais.

It was dark and over 27°C when we arrived and it was the only time we needed our lights, we made our way from the terminal and through the streets of Calais and the sight of over 500 riders with flashing red LED flashing in front as amazing. I had another 6 miles to go and was rather hungry. It was gone 10 pm and after around 30 mins we arrived at our hotel and lets just say from a 5:30 am start I had a shower and fell into bed and ate a banana bar I had in my secret food stash in my bag which had arrived at the hotel.

Day 1 – over and out…..

It is Tuesday the day before the Grand Depart

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I had a reasonable nights sleep on monday after a hectic day at work. It always happens with work. The day before I go on holiday things happen…. Hey ho I left feeling I had done everything I could.

Jo had picked up the bike box, I needed this to fly my bike back from Dinard as I was not returning with my new cycling friends on the Eurostar as I was going to relax at home in france for a week.

Paul who works for Jo in the florist shop (driving) was going to pick me up on Tuesday morning for the trip down to Croydon in London. I asked him to take my instead of work and he agreed providing is wages could go to the NKF.

Tuesday morning I had a light breakfast and was ready, paul turned up a little early but I was ready for the off.

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Everything was set and off we went.

I followed paul in my wife’s car to her florist shop as she would need her car with the van going to London for the day.

I met up with Jo to say my good byes and I must say I think the reality of what I was about to attempt finally hit me. I was still not 100% if I could do it.

I was leaving my wife from Tuesday to till saturday, attempting to cycle from London to Paris as a complete novice with a little over 8 months training and not having a clue what to expect. Battling with diabetes, not knowing how 6-8 hours in the saddle would work and a donated kidney from Jo as my own were beyond economical repair.

Afer a few hours of circumnavigating the M1 and M25 and having the pleasure of being stationary in UKs largest car park we arrived at the Selsdon hotel.

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I was nervous once again the penny had dropped, tomorrow I was going to hit the road to Paris.

I got all my kit into the room which of course was at the top floor and the furthest away from reception you could get. So dragging my bike box, two bags and Charlie had to be carried out in relays whilst Paul guarded my prize possessions.

It got to around 6:30 and many of my fellow riders started to arrive some in larger groups etc, I was amazed at the lager drinking contest going on by several of the big groups. It was a no-no for me as I never drink before I get on the bike as you can feel it the morning. I took to the restaurant for some food and then it was time for final preparations such as selecting tomorrows clothing, drink bottles filled, essential food ready for the ride, garmin ready, phone charged etc etc and off to bed. This routine had to be of military precision ever night for the next several days !

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Time to prepare the riding gear and charlie for the ride to Paris

I had sorted out the meds and next comes the cycle clothing, once again much much more than I thought !

I had four days of riding and I have enough kit for clean each day, this would increase the weight of my baggage but lightened the load on washing at night, I might not even have time for such luxuries.

I needed four bib shorts, four pairs of socks, four cycling tops and so it went on.

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Top row from the left first…. Shoes, 4 pairs of socks, 4 lots of bib shorts, gloves, four cycling tops, gloves, glasses and helmet.

Does not seem a lot but then you add your casual clothes on top it starts to resemble my daughters suit case to Singapore (that’s another blog another day)

Next came Charlie, time to give her a final wash and brush up ready for the big event.

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I put Charlie some new tyres on, I thought she deserved some new rubber on her adventure away from the turbo trainer.  I checked everything else from brakes, cleaning and lubricating the chain set. She looked well and ready for action, at last I was about to put her through her paces. All this riding we have done over the last 8 months was about to come together.

Next came all the cycling kit I took on my challenge. As I had no idea of what was coming I took virtually everything apart from the kitchen sink.

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You can see above a spare tyre, spare tubes (3 No.), spare chain links in case my chain broke, CO2 mini cylinders (inflating tyres to max pressure), anti bacterial wipes for my hands (nothing worse than changing a tyre and having dirty hands for the next miles.), torque wrench for dismantling my bike at the end, alan key set just in case for small adjustments whilst riding, water bottles, garmin cycle computer and a pump.

That was it I was ready, before I knew my trusty chauffeur appeared out of nowhere and it was Tuesday.

Time to prepare the medical kit for the big ride to Paris

Time is getting nearer and nearer for the ride. I am getting a little nervous as I don’t know what to expect at all. All I know is that I will arrive at the hotel in Croydon on a Tuesday afternoon and then appear in Paris on Saturday afternoon. I don’t know how it works in between if I am honest. I am more anxious about the unknown really than the actual ride.

My aim in all this is to raise some awareness, that as a transplant recipient I can do normal things in life, live life to the full and show others that a gift of life is truly life changing.

with out a transplant and a life on dialysis I am sure I could not ride to Paris in 4 days.

Before I go I need to get prepared in every way, I have lots to think about and the list seem endless.

Medication

First of all and the most crucial is my medication, I am on holiday for just over a week when I finish so I need to have three weeks supply with my throughout the two weeks Period. This includes all my transplant medication and insulin. I normally work a week  at a time to save me the effort of dispensing myself my meds every morning, mid morning and evening so I spend the best part of an hour getting those ready.

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At the end of all this tablet popping I have my full medical kit below…

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Lets look at bit closure, top of the pic I have all my essential tablets for the trip, below this I have spare insulin pens, factor 50 and 50+ sun screen, chamois cream to make my ride a little more bearable, Sudocream for after the ride each night, blood test strips in case my Libre sensor fails, blood glucose machine, insulin, the all important jelly babies in case of a diabetic low in the night, paracetamol, spare insulin needles, antibiotics just incase and some prednisolone just in case too….

Feeling strong again and I had a rise in my FTP !

There has been lots of ups and downs during the training cycle.

This week I am on the up, I hit the ground running with a very successful training session on Tuesday which once again was not easy but I got through it without any problems.

I managed to rescue my blood glucose levels, I run at the top of my rage all day  be eating a few more carbs as normal in anticipation for training. You can see a couple of peaks where the carbs had the effect (this is normal) and then it came back into range and then dropped during the ride. I just managed to get some food down me before the low hit me. So this was good effort and result on both sides.

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Thursday came and to be fair it was a lower workout ready for the dreaded FTP test on Tuesday which is a full-out effort for 20 mins. When I say full out I mean at my personal threshold.

Due to the impending test I decided I did not want to push though on Saturday or Sunday, so I went for a little spin on Friday night, it was 27°C when I left work and the first challenge was to climb for 5 miles to just over 1000ft. Not much to my pro friends, but the heat was intense, but I felt good. In fact, it was the quickest I had done the climb and then I went on to complete a quick 30 miles overall. I felt strong, in fact very strong and could not quite believe it. My MPH was up but the power I could exert at a constant felt good.

I was chuffed I had a productive ride, might have only been short but I felt good and hope I feel like this on the London to Paris.

I had a steady weekend, Tuesday soon arrived, and I felt mentally and physically good for the FTP test.

I began the 20-minute slog and its broken into 4 sections of 5 mins. So initially the idea is to just hold below my threshold of 203 for the first quarter and slowly increase it until the last section I start to put the hammer down. I think I went a little too hard to start with as I soon got my average up to 211 on the first 5 mins and continued. The rise did not increase in the same momentum as the initial 5 mins but it did go up. It was hot and I really pushed as hard as possible for the 20 mins flat out and I increased my FTP by 3.5%, not massive but a good solid performance to show how I have increased once again,

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Another week to come of hard work and then it will be time to keep the fitness but not increase. Steve will be changing my program a little. I will be doing a little tapering.

In my mind this seems all logical as I am sure Chris Froome does not do a couple of tour stages the week before he starts.  or then again maybe he does ?

Good Bye Frank the Tank :(

My old bike which was a cross between a mountain and road bike has finally left me. It was a Raleigh Pioneer Trail 4000. I purchased it originally to do the ride around Clumber park etc with Jo my wife.

Its been cluttering my garage until Charlie arrived and consequently it ended up outside. It was time to either scrap it or to see if I could give it away. I would much rather give it away to someone who could use it. I am sure after a bit of a fettle it could still serve someone proud !

I met a lady called Angela at Skyhook who works at a social enterprise called Recycle Bikes based in Sheffield. They are a not for profit project and work with young people who may be finding mainstream education a little challenging. They offer refurbished bikes, parts, bike serving and the training of bike maintenance to Joe public.

Frank the Tank set off in the back of the flower van with Charlie to Recycle bikes. Charlie was going to have a little fettle and make sure she is in top form ready for the challenge whilst Frank was going to be assessed to see if he could be rescued to give somebody else a chance to ride a bike.

Goodbye Frank the Tank

Charlie came back in time for my normal Tuesday session, the drive train was all clean, gears and brakes in fine order and she is all ready to go to Paris.

Thursday was tough and probably one of the hardest workouts of this section, it was a full-out effort over the threshold but with very little recovery. The minute in-between the heavy load is a time to recover, normally at 50% of your threshold but this particular day it was at 90% and there is no recovery for me at this level. Just pain and more pain, I was so relived to hit the 5 minutes 45% recovery section but then the pain started again shortly after, it was relentless, and I was so glad when I hit the final warm down after 70 minutes, even that felt tough.

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I hit the road again on Saturday but must admit I failed miserably, I put in a 5 miles effort uphill and my legs were just shot, I became very aware that I had not recovered from the intensity on Thursday evening. I did not go much further apart from turn around and head back to base and relaxed for the rest of the weekend.

I was a little down and disappointed about Saturday as I had all the intention of putting in a few miles, even making my special peanut and honey sandwiches for half way, having a carby breakfast of toast with a touch of real butter. It was not to be.

Under 4 weeks to go

Its been a couple of weeks since I last made a few notes, quite a lot has happened, and the training has been as busy as ever. That’s the problem trying to keep up to date. By the time I get my training done, road work done I need my beauty sleep!

As well as Cycling I have been a little busy in the garden now the summer season seems to have appeared. A couple of years ago I installed a new composite decking, however after a couple of years of it not draining water properly it warped and cracked. I have been removing the old and laying some new. The main issues were that I had to have a decent fall on it and as it was lade originally in a 8 metre section the fall would have had to be over 100 mm over the horizontal which would have looked odd. So, I have re-configured it to run in a 1.8 metre direction which only needs 25 mm fall to be safe. I had to install new posts and timber to go the opposite way. This took me several weeks as I could only do a bit at a time in the evening around riding Charlie.

At last it’s done, it took some time but it is done properly and Jo seems happy with her refurbished outside space and LED lighting.

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Looking back over the last few weeks I broke the 100km barrier by completing 65 miles in reasonable time. The result was that my legs were in good order and recovery was good.

Initially I set on my steady Rotherham route for the first 23 miles of my ride and then rode back to Sheffield where I started to climb up to the peak district and managed an easy 1000 ft climb and then came back around Sheffield on the east side and finished up warming down on a slightly different route to Rotherham and back.

It was a lovely day with average temperatures of around 18°C according to my Garmin and peaks of 22°C in certain parts.

I did have a major problem on the first leg as I went past Magna, that was a puncture. I even heard it enter the tyre and then could hear it deflate. I stopped, and I saw the culprit with no problems. A lovely piece of steel, no I was on the border between Rotherham and Sheffield and I think it had to be a piece of Rotherham steel as it was not shiny enough for Sheffield stainless steel !

I managed to change it quick time and used my CO² cylinder to refill the tyre in quick time and it worked well !

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Off I went again.

All in all a pretty good ride.

Training round at Skyhook has been on the edge this month. We have been concentrating on the climbing phase and it been extremely hard. We are doing high load and high cadence work at the moment and my diabetes blood glucose does not like it one bit.

I have been trying to start the session a little higher than normal in the rage of 12-15 but end up sinking like a stone and then takes a long time to recover back to normal. So, my glucose control according to the software has not been as good this month as last.

I just got the last phase of work under control in terms of diabetes, but it has certainly changed again. Fortunately, on the road I have now got a grip of the situation.

I had a monster of a training session last Thursday which at the time was extremely difficult, but I knew about it two days later.

I got on Charlie on a Saturday and set off and hit a climb for around 4 miles and my legs felt awful and just would not go. I blamed Thursday for this as the following Tuesday a just as hard session I was fine.

I have under 4 weeks to go and I am ok but am worried that I don’t want to do too much, I don’t want to be fatigued before I start. In my own mind I need to keep my fitness and making improvement is not my aim now. But who knows I could have got it all wrong, we will have to see what Steve has to say about this idea…  My own thoughts is I bet Mo Farah does not run a marathon 2 weeks before the next one….

Am I going to make it to Paris

I am leaving France for the last time until me and Charlie meet up with her again in Calais. The next time I arrived at our house in France and sleep in my bed will be after I have finished my challenge.

We (Jo my wife will meet me in Paris at the finish) get back home late Saturday night after a trip on the TGV from Paris. If I do complete the challenge I must say I will be overwelled with achievement. For the pro riders (those that go out every week for the last 5 years and think nothing of a 100 miles weekend ride) out there the London to Paris trip is a straight forward training exercise. For me it will be different, I have been riding for around 8 months but battled with diabetes all the way and kidney disease. I will be ecstatic but no doubt my legs will be in bits and my backside will resembles one of those monkeys you see at Chester zoo, You will get the idea of how I will feel when you look below.

 

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So I have 8 weeks to go and people are telling me it will be fine but I am not too sure to be honest. I am not convinced. A few weeks ago I was fine and now… well its different.  The last few weeks of training has been very difficult, the climbing of short very sharp hills worries me immensely, I don’t want to fail in fact I won’t allow myself to fail. Its all in the head says Steve @ skyhook training.

Steve is right I am sure of it, but I am getting more worried as the days go on and I wish it was tomorrow to be honest. I don’t want to let people down especially fellow kidney patients, my family and friends, my wife and finally myself. I must conquer this and complete it and find my next challenge.

A weekend ride and a rest

Its getting touch at skyhook during this climbing phase.

I went out once again on a Saturday to get a 50 miles ride in. I ventured out had a few warmup laps through Hillsborough and then via my normal Rotherham route and climbed up through Masborough and Thorpe Hesley.

I normally cycle pass my daughters but, on this occasion, as I was heading down hill I had nothing to lose by calling in.

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If I don’t call in she complains but with it being an uphill section and I can see the summit I don’t want to stop. I got of my bike, her car was in the drive but no one at home. I tried and sent her a picture of her car as proof !

I was trying to eat a bit more regular on this ride so I had done 25 miles it was time to stop off at Keppel’s column which is with 400 yard off our old house in Scholes.

I sat on the grass took off my new shoes and devoured my peanut butter sandwich, sweet treat and drink. I stopped for 15 minutes before heading back in the saddle.

I headed down into Scholes village, a lovely place and downhill section before I climbed up the short but steep section to Wentworth. As I said it was steep but short and I struggle a bit with the gradient. Not out of breath just felt fatigued and I had only done 30 miles by then.

At this time, I realised I need to make this London to Paris challenge a little easier and I have a plan but I am worried it will harm my training. I need to lose a stone in weight and loose it fast. I worked out if I was to lose a stone the gradient would not be as problematic and in fact my power to weight ratio would increase. I am having to work a lot harder than others who don’t carry the weight. But is it too late?

Last time I lost 6 stone I did it quite quick by cutting out carbs, so this is what I will do. However, the problem I see is that carbs are energy and If I do this now will the lack of energy impede on my training. It is something I need to speak to Steve about.

In the end I had a good ride but was fatigued quite a bit and I felt like I had gone backwards. Maybe the intensity of the training is talking longer for me to recover?

I went for the next session on Tuesday evening and it was tough, in fact I really struggled and turned down the intensity, so I could make it to the end. I did make it to the end, but it was horrific, I felt absolutely shattered.

I feel like I need a rest and a reset. Start again if you know what I mean.  As I write this I am 38000 feet in the sky on a flight back from France. I have had an extended weekend away and the way it has fallen means a full week’s rest for the bike. Those that know me I can assure you I have done nowt apart from a bit of gardening.

Here is a nice picture of Dinan

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Cycle maintenance, new clothes and a new friend.

I have been on with a few new tasks including changing tyres (de-laminated), replacing tubes (puncture), replacing a chain (worn) and giving Charlie a wash (filthy).

The tyre and the tube is one of those things but I was surprised by the chain. Apparently chains stretch and if not replaced when worn they can damage other components in the drivetrain.

I got a nifty little tool from one of my supplier friends (I will be a platinum member soon) and this measures the wear over a set distance.

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You place the circular end on the chain (it looks oily on this picture) and you try to slot the 0.75 bit of steel into a gap. If it does not fit then all is good, however if it slots in then it is stretched and needs replacing.

Once again I went on-line and ordered my first replacement chain.

Before fitting the chain Charlie had a lovely wash using a new toy.

My next door friends (King K and Lady P) have bicycles (If you still call them bicycles when assisted by batteries). have recently invested in a new gizmo which assists in maintenance and cleaning of cycles. They got it for a bargain and it makes life so easy. King K asked if I would like to give it a go so I jumped at the chance and he suggested that I can use it when it is available for free (at the moment, but it could lead to the exchange of a bottle of Sauvignon blanc now and again).

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Charlie is all ship-shape once again, ready for action.

I also picked up some new clothing and this included a new cycling top and matching bib short combo (you will see max wearing this later). Also I invested in a bright cycling top to ensure I am seen on the roads. Even through the dark nights have gone it is essential as ever to be seen. sometimes I think when it is dark you are more likely to be seen with lights as they are flashing in a dark background, but during sun light it is just as difficult. I thought I would get a great big yellow top so I could make my self more prominent on the road, also it makes your vision a little blurred and it might make a few drivers go to Specsavers for a check up.

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Next up was my regular visit to Skyhook and I was greeted by a new friend who also has the same kit as me. His name is Max and he is really friendly and we get on great.

Steve said last year the 17:30 slot was very busy but this year it is often just me so now Max has started being there I am no longer alone. He gives me the encouragement I need and does not lie through his back teeth. Typically Steve would tell me the workout is not too bad and once again using his filthy laugh knows very well the little green men with paramedics on their backs are on standby. No pain no gain is the way forward.

I have been looking everywhere for my photo I took of Max but it was the day after my phone decided to die before it synced to the cloud.

Dont worry I will get another one this week.

Off on the road next…

 

 

Weekend ride with half a shoe, getting the fuel right and another shopping trip !

The weekend was here and I wanted to go over the peak district to Castleton and then work my back up through Grindleford, left at fox house and over to the other side of Rotherham.

I wanted to get a 60 mile day in where I had a few climbs without going over the top.

I had a good start and left around 11 am, I noticed a few riders on their way back from the peaks and I knew why. It was warm at 25 degrees and the pros as I call them (those that don’t break sweat climbing over the peaks) had been out before it got too warm.

Oh well I continued to climb up to the top of Hathersage road and then to surpise view and experienced the great thrill of riding into Hathersage at over 25 MPH down a great descent for a mile or two. If only there was a ski lift for bikes I could do that all day practicing going round bends at break neck speeds trying to over take the odd commercial vehicle that was in my way.

The next few miles is of a low gradient if not flat, I must say I picked a glorious day. I had done my first 20 miles at ease and decided I needed to refuel.

Recently at Skyhook training I listened to a talk about nutrition and cycling. In short  it’s about ensuring you are replacing vital fluids, salts and carbs. something I needed to really think about during my London to Paris ride.

However I have a little problem which interferes with all this and its called diabetes type 1.  The general consensus was that if you are doing a ride lets say over 4 hours I should be replacing the energy being used by eating 40-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. I don’t think some of the other attendees realised how much this is. As a diabetic who can count carbs let me tell you its a hell of a lot to get down.

A good simple example is 3 slices of white bread would just about to it. Of course you can have other foods but imagine this every hour !

Then on top of that you need fluid and some salt or to hide the nasty salt word we know it as electrolytes (I pinched this analogy from the nutrition doctor during the talk).

If I am eating 60g of carbs an hour I also need to balance this with insulin as I don’t make my own. During the a 24 hour cycle you absorb carbs at different rates, you absorb insulin at different rates. it a recipe for trouble and a lot of fiddling around taking blood glucoses constantly, insulin and food trying to keep me on the bike for 8 hours a day. It’s quite easy getting the balance right if I do the same every day sat behind my desk at work it’s when you do something different its more of a challenge.

Any way I got to Castleton and had a little munch to ensure I had the fuel for getting back up the hills to Sheffield. There is something very calming about being sat having a snack and watching the world go by. The peaks are just stunning.

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I made my way back to Sheffield but noticed my right shoe was loose and I tried to tighten it up, but no! It would not tighten any more. The shoes work on a ratchet system so you can evenly tighten the whole shoe up by turning a disc. It had broken and come away from the fabric of the shoe.

I continued on with a sloppy right foot, made it to Sheffield and continued on as I thought what would I do if I was in the middle of France? Continue was the only way forward.

I made it to the other side of Rotherham and back home with the sloppy shoe, to be fair it was a lovely day for a change and its was not the end of the world.

I decided upon closer examination there was a fault with the shoes and as I had only bought them before winter and not seen much outdoor action I would return them back to the shop. This is where the warranty police came to town again. They have to return them to the manufacture, so a possibility of 4 weeks without shoes. I suppose the pro riders out on the road have several pairs but I don’t. I leave the shoe and handbag club to Jo my wife.  I had my first pair but would mean changing the pedals and cleats and I thought this would not be good as I need to be training in the correct pedals and cleats and 4 weeks was far to long.

I went home and contacted the store again via Twitter after some further thoughts and they confirmed that if they were found faulty I could ask for my money back.

Next stop was to see Lisa in the Giant store in Sheffield to buy a new pair of shoes, and guess what I found a pair that fitted as I have to be careful being a diabetic.

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Just heard back from the original shoe people and all is good and a credit it awaiting, more shopping to do.

 

Rain, hail, wind, mud and falling off

I went out for a Wednesday night recovery ride for a quick 30 miles around my normal route.

I was starting straight from work as in the week due to training locally I have Charlie at my side all day. The day itself had been ok in terms of the weather, just right in fact for me.  There had been a few sunny periods and was around 14 degrees celsius.

I set off from work around 17:30 and within 200 yards my fingers felt very cold and realised I had left my gloves at work. You need gloves as when you are riding with the wind chill factor it can get a little fresh on the little pinkies.  So I turned around back to work and we had a quick flash shower, hard but very short.

Got my gloves and the sun came back out and off I went. I must point out it had been quite dry in Sheffield for a while and the roads towards the pavement were very dusty.

I had a good ride across to Rotherham and as I was approaching Barbot Hall and the weather all of a sudden changed it was like I was riding into a micro climate all of its own. The rain started, the dust changed to mud, then the wind started and was blowing not in any direction but completely random.

I pushed on then came the hail together with the fierce swirling wind. It hurt, it got my face, my arms, my legs it was awful and this was followed as I passed Meadowhall with torrential rain, the type that bounces back up to the sky by 12 inches  and created an instant river of all the debris and mud. It was awful, the worst I have ever had on the bike.

As I was going down Attercliff the wind changed, it did not let up but at least it was going in the same direction, guess what I was riding into the wind and the rain. I was wet and not just damp, it was as if I had just been in a swimming pool, or should I say swamp if you could see me.

I got into Sheffield and the real comedy moment happened and it made my day.

There was two lanes, one a bus lane and a normal one. I was at a cross roads in the bus lane on the left hand side.

Here is a quick picture so you will get the idea.

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Now on a junction like this I tend to go to the front and in fact as far as the actual junction so I can get a bit of fresh air between me and any cars for when I set off. It just gives me a bit of time to get both feet clipped in and put the power down.

Now on this particular junction there are no traffic lights past the junction, normally you get lights ahead past the junction but not here.

I quickly realised I could not see the lights so with my right foot clipped in and my left keeping me upright I decided to hutch backwards in reveres to see the lights. However I forgot this is not normal and my right foot still clipped in did not agree.

I instantly started falling to my right (were my foot was clipped in) lost my balance, could not get my foot out of the pedal and ended up with Charlie on top of me, by this time there were a row of cars in the car lane. They just carried on and no doubt trying not to laugh.

If you want a reminder of what I mean take look at a previous post to see a previous post explaining the cleat and pedal situation by reading Charlie and me for the first time

All I have to say if I end up on Harry Hill from a dash cam I want half of the £250 !

I got up hurt my knee, was filthy and just carried on determined to get back to work and go home.

Here was the result. No they are not grey tights but the grime I picked up after I took my socks off. I had most of Rotherham’s road grime in my bib shorts !

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On the way home another fellow cyclist battles the conditions. I think you will get the idea.

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The saddle comes back to bite me !

You will have seen in the past about the issues I was having with the saddle. I found one in the end and although there will always be some pain when you cycle over a distance it was far better than what I had.

Here is the Prologo

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All off a sudden Charlie developed a squeak and as per normal it is always difficult to find the source.

My personal cycling guru Steve from Skyhook training came to the rescue and identified it was a problem with the saddle. Not again I thought.

The problem was clear and one of the rails which attached to the saddle was moving, I took a quick video and spoke to the supplier as it was not very old.

After I sent them the video I expected them to send me a new one. How wrong I was they wanted it back for inspection and then they would send it back to the manufactures.

The problem was that they were not prepared to give me a replacement in the mean time although it was obviously faulty.

So what would I use as it could take 4 weeks to go through the warranty process. The supplier advised I should purchase another one and request a refund. All very well if you have the spare cash hanging around under the mattress and if not it means no siting down.

After an hour of playing devils advocate with myself I had to order another saddle. The new one was incorrect and this was not the end but eventually I have a new saddle.

To this day a month on I have heard nothing and this was not the last warranty issue I have encountered.

I am still around !

I have not posted for a month, a few things have happened but with the training stepping up, the daily workload increasing, and the increase of my charity work for the NKF (National Kidney Federation) as we seek a new CEO has been a little intense.

So over the next couple of days I will catch up on the issues I have faced during my quest to cycle from London to Paris and increase the awareness of organ donation.

I will leave with a photo I took during one of my rides in the Peaks in Derbyshire.

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Sunny days and transplant patients don’t mix

Today is probably the best day of the year in terms of weather so far. It’s around 22 degrees centigrade, blue skies, calm and still.

However transplant patients particularly (same should apply to everyone really) must be more aware of the effects of ultra violet light and what a day to remind me.

Back to the bike first. Training has been going well since returning from my lovely holiday in France with Jo my wife.

It was hard going on my return but I soon picked it back up and my regime has increased in preparation for the London to Paris with last weeks session including the following.

Monday              Rest day

Tuesday             Indoor session with Steve

Wednesday       Outdoor recovery ride

Thursday            Indoor Session

Friday                 Rest day

Saturday            outdoor sprint training

Sunday               A steady ride to Gainsborough

The next indoor session was Tuesday and Steve did tip me off that this would probably be the hardest so far with that fiendish grin and cruel laugh he has. I always think I am paying for this pain !

He was right it was the toughest session I had done, it was two large 20 minutes chunks riding at and around my FTP threshold. Boy it hurt, I got home I had never felt so drained. Yes Steve you broke me ! but I am still alive.

Going back to Gainsborough I had a couple of interesting interactions with fellow cyclists. Firstly I was on a nice flat road not far from home and I was just doing a bit of warm up and on this stretch I always put the hammer down. I was cruising just short of 30mph ! suddenly whoosh a pro (as I call them) passed by me up the inside on a wide cycle lane at a rate of knots, he said hello as he left me in the dust. Just makes you think you are not trying enough.

Oh well that is one incident. The next,  I was just leaving Maltby in Rotherham and heading to Tickhill. I just hit the downhill section before the large hill in front of me and in the distance,  I spotted a pro (identified by his / her dark clothing, all pros tend to wear dark non reflective clothing for some reason). He was probably around 500 yards in the distance and just about to climb. Once again I put in the effort and thought I would see if I could catch them up.

He just went other the top and I had already started climbing, I was catching them up and I thought wow I must be getting better. By the time we started dropping into Tickhill they were in my sight and I was on his (I could tell by now he was a he) wheel. Then disappoint struck, he had white hair and looked round and said good afternoon. He was 75 at the very least. The euphoria of catching a pro suddenly sank. However, let’s get this right, there are an awful lot of senior cyclists out there and it is obvious from this encounter he was on form. If I can keep going like this by the age of 60 I would be staggered and there goes a guy in his 70s cycling around. Well done that’s all I can say.

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Back to this glorious weather and transplants and the connection with today.

A few weeks ago I went for my normal dermatology appointment. It’s a standard check of the skin. The reason for this is that when you are taking anti rejection drugs your immunity to skin cancer is greatly reduced. So its good practice to get things checked.

On the last appointment I have some moles which have grown a little and more irregular shape. The option is to monitor them more closely (more hospital visits, fighting for parking and all the rest that comes with hospital visits) or just to whip them off as a precaution. So I went for the whip them off technique which was today. Prevention is the best cure and getting a good factor 50 applied at all times is the best idea. I apply Sunsence factor 50 moisturiser every single day, even in hail, rain, snow and shine.

Must be the reason I look so young for 44 😉

This is going to hinder my training for the best part of a week unless I can get a bike which is upright and have a shopping basket on the front.

Anyway due to this little day off I am now relaxing keeping my back straight and not bending in the garden but sat under a large umbrella. Back to normal tomorrow unless I bleed to death overnight.

I am admiring my lovely grass, I am not into gardening and love the fact my garden is small but practical. But I have been carefully tendering the grass over the winter months and I must admit I have done a mighty fine job as you can see.

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I skipped a week away from Charlie

I have had a full week off Charlie. This was forced due to a holiday in Brittany France.

I am always a little worried about these holiday in terms of my training. I had just reached a new level and started the next period for me to disappear to France with no training and a bit of indulgence from the odd vino calapso, gin and tonic and Jack Daniels fire never mind the abundance of fresh bread and Brittany butter !

I am typing this whilst on the ferry from Guernsey to Poole watching the sun disappear below the horizon. Ok you got me I was making it up as its cloudy as we are in the middle of the English Channel. Just sounded so much nicer and in fact romantic.

Jo my Kidney Donor wife has previously suffered from sea sickness so this time she is prepared with bands and tablets and I must say on the way out and so far back she has been absolutely fine. In-fact she has just eaten her last Croque Monsieur and glass of white wine for a few months.

Going back to cycling, doing nothing for a week is a little problematic to my mind as no doubt it will take at least a week to get back to the point I was at before leaving the UK. That technically puts me somewhat backwards in my fitness plan for my challenge of London to Paris.

I have taken it easy in France this time, we decided we would do a little bit of non-essential painting to the window shutters.

They were a brown varnished colour and we decided we would paint them a shade of Grey. So upon arrival the preparation began using the following method.

Day 1 – Jet washing the shutters to get rid of any loose varnish and algae which had built up over a few years.

Day 1 —  Sanding all the old vanish off that was remaining to get it down to clean ready to go timber.

Day 2 — getting two coats of preservative and a few repairs of rotten tongue and groove timber.

Day 3 – 1st coat of under coat

Day 4 – 2nd coat of under coat

Day 5 – 1st coat of gloss

Day 6 – 2nd Coat of gloss

Then at the end of the day re-hanging the shutters and re-greasing the hinges

All done, as you can tell I don’t like to lounge around for any amount of time, I am as bad as my wife Jo.

Hold on just got a piece of Dairy milk popping candy coming my way followed by a couple of units of insulin………

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Moving on during all this fun I saw some amazing night-time sights. I witnessed the best show on earth, it is amazing what you can see with just the naked eye. The longer you stop watching the more you can see. I am no expert star-gazer, but I can sit there all night watching stars, planets and the odd weather satellite nipping across the sky.

Friday night was my Birthday (we pretended as my real birthday is in February and if its good enough for the Queen to have two then its good enough for me).

Jo had booked us in a hotel in St Malo and a restaurant called L’Absinthe. OMG we had what I would say is the best dinner in France. It was a French restaurant with excellent service, good food and good wine. As you would expect we did not leave stuffed (typical English to want to be stuffed), but the food and service were at its highest. If only some of the local restaurants near us could follow something similar like this.

The food had plenty of individual flavours and texture, some of the “fluffy” bits were just tongue tingling. It just amazing what can be done when you know how !

If you are ever in St Malo make sure you get yourself booked in for dinner, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you Jo for my Birthday treat.

On our way back, we called into Jersey for a few hours, topped up our stomachs with a fantastic breakfast at Gorey Pier, called at St Brelade bay for a walk and then back on the trimaran ferry to Poole and drive back to Sheffield.

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Al I have to do is get my act together and undo all these nasty things I have eaten and get on “mi bike”.

Weekend ride is cancelled as Mothers Days takes over…

I had my first session on Thursday at my new FTP level of 200 watts, it was a threshold ride to make sure the numbers stack up and they did. It was tough but not impossible although at the end I had a hypo again. It was a ride of a high load but normal cadence which sent me tumbling with no chance of recovery before the end of the session.

However, that was it for Charlie until Tuesday as Mother’s day was going to be upon us.

Now I know some of you are thing what has mothering Sunday got to do with it. Well the original owner of my Kidney owns a flower shop in Dore village, Sheffield called Valerie of Dore.

Stop she is not called Valerie but Jo.

Most people (especially annoying sales calls) on the telephone call her Valerie but this was the name of the original owner who has long retired but still lives in the village and was responsible for the business to have one of the best reputations in South Yorkshire, so we could not let the name disappear. Val often calls in to the shop for a catch-up and lives within 150 yards of our shop.

It’s the busiest weeks of the year in a florist calendar for us in Dore village. Christmas is busy, Valentines day is ok and mother’s day is just crazy !

We start a few months earlier getting cellophane wrapping cut and prepped and bows all made as preparation is key with the amount of Staff Jo employees.

With a few weeks to go the final orders for flower stock are made with several suppliers. In comes  the sundries such as baskets and containers and then in the final week we are already to go.

We have a cold store in the shop and also, I get Jo two other portable cold stores up and running which enables to store the flowers in perfect conditions once made to enable the stock to be as long-lasting as possible. It’s a perk of the job when you are involved in refrigeration.

Orders roll in on the Interflora system, our phone lines don’t stop and orders pinging on our website.

Its nonstop from Thursday evening.

I appear Friday night straight from the day job to help with the delivery routes and do all the running around. Saturday, I stop in the shop and carry out all the menial tasks like processing credit card payments, answering the phone, helping drivers, making tea, emptying bins and one of the most important jobs of ordering the evening take away (Indian this year). In fact, I do a bit of everything apart from making floral designs as I leave this to the experts.

Eventually we get done late Saturday night with everything in place and then on Sunday it’s normally a little more relaxed in the shop as the main job is down to the eight or so drivers we get in on a temporary basis. I go out with a large run of deliveries to Dronfield and Barlow area and drop off 23 designs. We aim to get everything delivered by 1 pm as some of the recipients may be out for Mother’s Day lunch.

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Over the weekend there were more than 250 deliveries and in total we probably made over 350 designs in total. It well organised chaos ! there was only one design this year that did not get delivered due to no one in and a neighbour not willing to take it in. So, it was a good result.

It’s a great relief for all of us on Sunday afternoon as we know we have done it for another year and now its time to roll into wedding season.

Don’t worry I kept the fitness up and managed a few steps on the Saturday as you can see below.

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Back to Charlie on Tuesday !

Its time for the FTP test

It’s been a really busy few weeks since my last post. In terms of Charlie, I have had good sessions with Steve at Skyhook including our end of 6 weeks FTP testing.

The sessions have been coming to the end of this period and they have progressively been getting harder and then at the end we had the FTP test to see how much more power I can produce over an average time.

This is the testing part of my training which lets me see if I am getting any stronger. One thing on the programme is that things never seem to get easier so its difficult to judge if you are making progress.

I have noticed during the workouts every week the little recovery sections where you get a rest and only work at 60% of your threshold for small periods, gets shorter and shorter.

You really need a period of showing yourself you are getting better otherwise you would get disheartened. The best test for me is the road, however doing the 6 weekly FTP test with Steve shows how much you have really improved (if you have).

The test was a Tuesday and prior to this I had a steady weekend, eat good food and plenty of fuel in anticipation and kept my blood glucose levels steady.

Recently I have learned that if the session is normal speed (cadence) but a reasonable heavy load around the threshold I go down in glucose readings, but if there is an injection of pace in the session I go high. So it’s a real difficult one to get to grips with before setting off.

I have had a few power normal cadence session and a couple of occasions had a low and not been able to recover quickly enough, so I need to make sure I ask Steve what is coming up the session before, so I can fuel myself properly. This needs to start mid-afternoon and not 10 mins before the session.

The FTP test is more of a normal speed grind and over in 20 minutes. The difference is instead of the system setting the power the ride is based upon a gradient, so you decided what gear and how much power to put out. It has 5-minute interval where you push harder and harder. The first 5 mins is just below the threshold, next 5 mins is at threshold power, next 5 mins is above and the last 5 you go at it like a bat out of hell.

I was set and ready and my current FTP is 190 watts. I did my warm up as normal for 20 mins and started the 20-minute slog.

The first 5 minutes felt very solid and I noticed on the large flat screen I was holding my current threshold of 190 no problem, the next 5 I had already started to exceed my threshold. I was a little worried I had started to overcook it a little in the first 10 minutes. Steve tells and reminds you during the test not to go to hard as you will have nothing for the second half to push your average up over your current threshold. The final 10 minutes started, and it started to hurt but I tried to put this out of my mind by pushing and pushing slowly increasing my power. I got to the last five minutes on the count down and thought what the hell its only going to hurt once! As you can see from the graph I hit the last 5 mins hard and the final 2 minutes I peaked.

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The last 10 seconds were hell but then the beeping countdown to the end keeps you pushing until you just collapse on the bike. I had to get off as I was shaking and took a seat for a couple of minutes until I continued with a 20-minute warm down back on Charlie.

Once that was over I had to wait for the computer to work out my result, suddenly, the screen said I was a hero. (Steve tried to get a photo as he had not seen that before, but he was too late) but then it announced I had increased my threshold by 10 watts, which is a decent achievement / improvement on 6 weeks works. This really confirms to me that the work Steve is doing with me is paying off and more and more I keep training and upping my threshold the more I am looking forward to carrying out this challenge and I truly can’t believe how I am changing during this progress in terms of strength and the fat has dropped off my legs it all just muscle, oh well that’s what I am sticking to.

Apparently, the weather is getting better but as I write this we have had yet another flurry of snow in Sheffield.

See a picture of Narnia from a friend.

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Once it does it is time to start winding up the training and the amount, so my program will look something likes this.

Monday              –            Rest Day

Tuesday             –            Skyhook indoor training

Wednesday        –            30 mile recovery ride on road

Thursday            –            Skyhook indoor training

Friday                 –            Rest Day

Saturday             –            Decent road ride 50 miles +

Sunday               –            30 mile recover ride

What social life !!

Paul the weather man at Look North got it wrong just like Micheal Fish !

The last week has been pretty good.

It all started a week ago on the road from home to Stocksbridge. This was a route I did several months ago and I did plenty of puffing and panting on the gentle incline up to Stocksbridge.

It was forecast as a cold but reasonable Saturday, once again Paul the weather man on Look North had another Michael Fish moment and got it completely wrong. As I started climbing from Middlewood it stared. There was wind and rain. The rain got heavier and heavier. The puddles at the side of the road got larger. Sheffield roads are notorious for holes even though they have received 2 billion from the government. It was getting difficult to judge the depth of the holes and I had several big hits to the front wheel.

I could really tell the training is working as I ploughed through the rain to Stocksbridge with no problems at all. I had a quick break in a bus stop and talked to a couple of locals who were waiting for the bus to Sheffield city as they called it, as town was Stocksbridge itself.

Off I set off back and it is mainly downhill with a couple of assents, the roads were flowing like the river Don, mind you it was far dirtier than the Don.

I got home and I was drenched, absolutely dripping. Jo would not let me pass the threshold as I was filthy, I even had to remove my cycling tights and I got more mud in places I should not have. Leave that to the imagination.

Saturday afternoon was a touch busy too as No.1 step son has finally got his own place, he now has a mortgage. So I ended up Saturday and Sunday mass building Ikea flat pack and fitting light fittings and come Sunday night I could relax.

Monday was a different day as I got plenty of aches and pains from other muscles that I never knew I had, that’s what you get for building, lifting and shifting. At least I got to go to work for a rest.

Come Tuesday I was off to Steve @ Skyhook again for the normal indoor training session. It was extremely hard and I did have a couple of 15 seconds breaks out of the saddle. The weekend had really taken its toll. It did not help that I have still to get a new saddle, it had yet to arrive.

 
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I got through it and off I went again on Thursday to Skyhook, I had a good session and really enjoyed it. I felt great apart from my derriere.

My derriere is really suffering; I did find a saddle that I trialled but nearly two weeks on a local supplier has yet to receive it. It’s driving me crazy.

Just to show I am not making all this hard work up !

 

 

Once again the weekend is upon us and the weather report is once again grim, so I took Steve up on a course ride at 7am Saturday morning. I was up like the lark and off I went.

It was a different set up doing a course ride. Instead of Steve setting the power required the rider can decided how much power to put out and the training system simulates hills etc. The one thing it can’t do is simulate downhill. Therefore there is no freewheeling. Hence a 1.5 hours session is nearly three hours on the road. It was a real good session.
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I really don’t know were Steve gets his names from …. Mind you its -2°C at the moment in the UK with the worst predicated cold spell for some time, so maybe Steve knows something I don’t.

The weekend has been cold but glorious !!

I got home for around 9 am and then to my surprise I noticed that overnight we had four reindeer in our garden. I had a very good idea where they come from and if you look closely they would make excellent kindling for the wood burner !

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Lets hope the saddle arrives on Monday………

 

 

 

 

 

The training is working ! Thanks Steve @ Skyhook

Its been one hell of a tough week at Skyhook training. We have just hit a peak according to Steve on the current cycle. But the way he laughs every Tuesday and Thursday night I am not too sure he is being straight with me.

Thursday night was, well lets say I went to hell and back.

I arrived and saw a couple of the guys finishing off and they said it was tough and they were glad to get off the saddle !

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So here is what I faced and my results.

 

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All the spikes in this are at high cadence at around 110 RPM, after the first three warm up peaks off you go and you can see further on you go there are less of them at slightly less power output but they last longer, so it’s a double edge sword. I did start to think I could not do these when I got past the first of the set of 3 but as the load reduced just by a couple of percent I continued on, but I was so relived when I go to the last 3 minutes of warm down.

That was Thursday done with and all I needed was a good test ride on Saturday as I had not been out on the road for some time due to the weekends weather being rather poor or snow bound !

Saturday came, I noticed we have had a good frost which as always is a little off-putting but I decided I needed to go out so I prepped all my gear and got Charlie ready for a quick 25 miles sprint.

I got fluid, LED lights attached, new Garmin and my mini saddle bag packed with spare tube, food and tools and she was ready for the off. I got myself ready with the obligatory derriere cream, full length tights, thermal top, water proof high-vis top, shoes, over shoes, new helmet and I was ready for the off.

It was drizzling as I set off and did not look like it would improve.

I saw this ride as an opportunity to test. I was using it to see if any things I had learned would make a difference. So the three main things I was looking at:-

Training – Is this proving to be beneficial and is it assisting me? I need to see a difference so it gives me impetus to continue with the training, I need to see outcomes and results !

Cadence – I was aiming to use my gears more efficiently and keep my cadence around 85 RPM all the time so I was not moving up the gears too early or too late. This may slow me down but recovery should be better

Weight, I had lost a bit of weight over the last three weeks (around 4.5 kg) and wanted to see the effect.

Off I went and the first early impression in the first 2 miles was OMG !!   What has happened.

Firstly Charlie never felt so nimble even in the wet I could dance around on the bike and make it go where ever and when ever I wanted her to. That must the weight or just confidence. Then I noticed I was often in the wrong gear when trying to keep cadence around 85. I was up shifting much quicker and then when going up hills I was downshifting much quicker. In all my average speed seemed to be much quicker.

After the first 15 miles I was still fresh and did not even break into a sweat, the training was really paying off.

There was one section that was touch and it was not that difficult previously and this was the steady climb for a couple of miles in Rotherham. But I was battling a ferocious constant head wind and heavy rain, flags at the Mushroom garage were horizontal against the flow. This was hard and slow but the wind held me back but still good training.

I got back home after 25 miles still quite fresh and feeling great both mentally and physically. I have now got a real chance of getting to Paris if I continue in this vein.

I have am overcoming the problems with diabetes whilst riding on this journey and are showing that having a kidney transplant stops nothing in life !

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One thing I don’t have is any mud guards on Charlie and I ended up in a right old mess !

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Technology assisting my training and the latest on the saddle saga

I have not reported any major spending recently, don’t worry I have kept it quiet but been searching the world for the best deal.

My organ donor wife Jo bought me a cycling voucher for Christmas (thank you Jo). I have been eyeing up a new cycling helmet. I did have one but found that spending a little bit of money on an upgrade is worth a little more comfort. It just another one of those things that it has not paid to pay less to dip my toe into the water. Another lesson leaned in this complicated cycling thing.

I am still on temp saddle No. 5. This one is a little thinner and narrow than before and after two rides I have not been experiencing the pain, so maybe I have cracked this problem. It certainly gives me some hope this issue can be resolved and I can concentrate on working hard instead of thinking about my rear !

So technology on bikes I hear you ask, another mine field and lots to choose. I have been discussing at length with Steve at Skyhook about the problem at Edale etc and I think I am pushing too hard in a too high a gear so when going up hills I am pedalling very slow but traveling fast.

Steve tells me that this kind of action (heavy slow load) although productive it takes longer to recover than pedalling fast. So the aim is to keep the pedalling (cadence) around 85 RPM and not let it drop. If you watch professionals this is what they do when they hit a hill, they have the strength to get up with lower cadence but recovery is slow and a race is all about speed and distance combined.

So I need to keep the gears lower and keep peddling fast instead of grinding up those hills on the road and if I can recover and keep some in the tank.

How will I know how many RPM my pedals / cranks are doing, well I have a relatively inexpensive cadence sensor which has a small magnet on the crank so every time it passes it send out an electronic pulse.

This is the easy bit, but I also need something to see what is happening so here it is, its a Garmin Edge 520 which connects to all these sensors including speed and heart rate.

When connected to a phone it will also posts positions to Facebook so my friends and family will able to track me across Kent and then on to France if I make the ferry.

So they have had me again, a cheap inexpensive sensor that works with a rather expensive front end.

I could have used my mobile but the battery would ultimately have been problematic as well as the British inclement weather soaking my mobile.

No more purchases this month apart from (ever in hope) finalising my saddle!

Here are my new toys ! (well hopefully settle on the saddle soon)

Training update

The training is going reasonably well at the moment following my little hiccup with my swollen foot.

I mentioned on my last blog that my foot was sore and it developed into a full swollen foot. Being a diabetic it is essential that these things are looked at ASAP.

Fortunately my GP is excellent at appointments and their current policy is if you call before 11 you can get a same day slot. Off I went Monday morning and we were not too sure what it was and probably I had injured it in some way. A short course of steroids to remove the swelling (kidney transplant patients keep away from anti-inflammatory medication)  by the following Wednesday I was ready for my next cycling session and at the moment we are in the build up phase and this is very important.

A colleague at work asked me if I had injured my foot on my bike and then eureka I remember after the really hard session on the four-horse men being a little unstable as I dismounted Charlie I swung my foot straight into the frame my bike stands on and walloped it hard. So this obviously set off my problems and it is probably exasperated by being a renal patient.

Last night I went for a real intense session and Steve said this will probably be one of the hardest within this training period.

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So to explain you can see the red line and that is my FTP, to keep it simple the is the threshold power output I can sustain for a relatively short period of time. It’s not about the speed or the distance but its all about power put out by my body.

The blue line is the power I actually put out during the training session, the green line is my pedaling speed. For most of the session I am pedaling normally and achieving an average of 85 rpm and then you can see during certain parts of the test I pedal a lot faster towards 100 RPM. These are high cadence sections. The grey section is the load being sent to me from the computer onto my back wheel so you can see I match it all the way.

You can tell its hard when the system makes you operate around and slightly above my FTP and then a few fast sections in the middle.

By the time I got to the end Steve had broken me again and he seemed really pleased ! I am sure Steve loves and gets off on seeing real pain and the fact you stager out of his place.

In the end another great session and just need to transfer all this onto the road.

Soon be July and I am scared already…

Good solid week and a bit of Saturday cleaning – Charlie got naked…..

 

 

I have been round for two full on sessions with Steve this week at Skyhook. We are now into the spring programme and are starting to build and not just maintain. This is when the going is “going to get tough”.

The Last session I had been on Thursday and was called Skyhook Strength Four Horsemen. Here was the result.

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I asked Steve why the four Horsemen, he told me with a dirty laugh, next week it will be the apocalypse next week.  In other words he is gong to try to break me again and build me up.

I planed to go for a ride on Saturday but the weather was dank and I also awoke with a little pain in my right foot.

I decided to do a bit of cleaning instead and stripped Charlie naked.

She was filthy and it is amazing how all crevices get full of road grim and grit.  Off came the both wheels, a bit of de-greasing the chain and running gear, clean the brakes and finish off with the frame. Once all this is done I carry out some lubrication on the chain, running gear and brakes etc. Then finally out comes the torque wrench and check all the bolts !

Hope you are loving my home-made servicing stand !

 

Sunday came and my foot was no better, not too sure what the hell I have done to it. It gets better as the day goes but is rather stiff first thing.

I went and helped my wife at a local wedding fayre with flowers and here is a snippet for those interested in the floral side of my life.

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Hoping to get training on Tuesday as I would not want to miss the apocalypse.

Just for those that have seen too many flowers, here are some cogs ! enjoy…

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It has been a tough week and it needs investigating

The weather is still awful, however I had a some good session indoors and on Thursday last week it was a real grind.

Steve had me doing some what he calls sweet-spot training. This is where I have sustained periods just under my threshold. When I say threshold this a measured amount of power I can sustain over a given set period of time.

From what I can make out and understand is that you keep riding just under you threshold so not to finish you off and then have a little 2 minutes recovery ride and off you go again. It’s all about training your legs to cope with these long heavy loads.

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So you can see my threshold on the red and then the work I did in the blue. It was a heavy session and I certainly knew about it afterwards.

I have been planing a ride for Saturday, thought I would give myself a little test but this is where it all ended up in pain and agony.

I have been wanting to get a decent ride over the peak to show just how much I have come on in the last three months. I decided I would undertake a round route starting at home, climbing up to Fox House, up to Surprise View, down to Hathersage, over on the flat to Edale and then up an extremely steep climb to Mam Tor and then down back to Castleton, past the Edale road and back home in reverse.

Ok for those that dont know the peak district there is a good long climb up to surprise and a very quick long down hill section into Hathersage and plenty of moderate flat with undulations to Edale and then the hill to Mam Tor is one of the steepest you will find in the peaks. Then back home in reverse via holmesfield

The original 55 mile route planned using Strava looks like the following.

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The only section of this route I have not ridden before was the Edale section, so I knew what was coming. As you can see plenty of hills to tackle in the elevation profile of the route.

I set off and I must say I felt a little tired in the legs from Thursday but soon got spinning, I got to surprise (first peak on the elevations profile) a lot easier than I thought and I could tell I have made real progress and smashed my time on this section and rode it in a much higher gear.

The run into Hathersage is always fast and I enjoy keeping up with cars adn wanting to overtake lorries whilst dodging the pot holes in the road, good ride to Edale. This is where I stopped checked my blood glucose and had a little snack after completing my first 20+ miles and anticipating the massive ride up the 16% incline.

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I was passed at speed just before I hit the hill by a lady rider and I looked at the hill and within 50 yards she was out of the saddle and gone. It looked daunting and no pictures would do it justice. Within 400 metres I had done it and had to get off, I was not out of breath but my legs just went. I walked for 50 metres and got back on again which is difficult pointing up such a steep hill and the trying to get both feet clipped in. Another 400-500 metres and the same again this continued to the top. I could hear cars struggling to the top too and dropping down the box. Little cars with small engines crunching into 1st in the race to get to the top !

I did eventually got to the top 3 times slower than many other riders do it in according to Strava, as I say I was not out of breath it was purely my legs that just did not work.

Normally you would get a spectacular view from the top but it was extremely cold, dank, grey with reduced visibility and damn miserable up there.

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Once again I was not out of breath but my legs had gone..

I then decided to descend down Winnats pass which is around 35% and I can tell you it is the most scary descent I have done. It’s quite narrow but the steepness means you have to be in full control with the brakes on at all times. Not taking your hands off. It’s one of those roads that are difficult in a car when the weather is not at its best never mind a bike !

Its beautiful in the summer and sinister in winter, take a look at Wikipedia for more details. it really is a great part of the world for the weekend, you see so many people from the city carrying out their outdoor activities.

Off I went on the flat in reverse to Hathersage to tackle my last major climb, it is  one I have done when I first started cycling and I was scared of it (not now). I had a little break again and off I went and then stopped within 200 yards my legs just would not go anywhere, they were not in pain just no energy whatsoever.

I went back to Hathersage and then waited 30 mins in the freezing cold and got a train to Dore station and rode up to Dore to see Jo and then home.

So as I say an investigation is required to why this happened ? Did Thursday training take it out on me ? Did I go too hard up the Edale mountain to Mam Tor ??  Who knows it’s an investigation to be had with Steve to find out a viable reasons as to by the wheels have fallen off my wagon..

Will I ever complete the challenge to Paris after this major setback….

I only did 35 miles so I was 20 short on my challenge.

All I Want for My Birthday In February Is A New Derrière

Christmas has long gone and the new year is in full swing with spring around the corner.

I have been training hard over the festive period and only missed two sessions, can you believe it,  they did not open bank holiday Tuesday ! One of my objectives over the next month is concentrating on some further weight loss.

You will find it hard to believe but since I have been doing the training two / three times a week I have lost no weight, nothing, absolute zero, naught,  zilch, scored a duck, nil or as we say in Yorkshire nowt.

You would think that by carrying out all the intensive workouts and eating the same something would have tipped the balance, it has not.

Apparently, I am training in the wrong zone and the energy source from which I am burning is not fat.  My legs are changing shape as they have certainly firmed up, so it must all be muscle, well that what I am telling myself. I need more spinach just like Popeye.

I am concentrating on eating less in general and less carbs just like I did 2016-2017 when I lost 6 stone. I need to push this further now to make me a little more efficient during rides so I am not having to lug excess weight along for the ride.

Oh also I am on with dry January, another challenge.

So as I said I have been training indoor with Steve at Skyhook in Sheffield and things seems to be going well. It’s just as well I am doing indoor stuff as the weather and darkness in general is poor for cycling. I did think that in Winter I would be fine outside,  but I was so wrong. Its damn hard work in winter and the indoor training session have saved me.

I have been having saddle problems and I am particularly sore after only riding for an hour, as you will have seen in previous posts I am fully kitted up with udder cream and decent bib shorts but I am still in agony. Luckily there is no blisters involved…

After 60 minutes I am getting sore at the top of my legs where they turn to cheeks to a point it is more painful than the ride itself. When I leave the saddle periodically to dance around bends in the road and avoid traffic I burn for a couple of seconds. Next days it’s completely gone but it’s not good. I need to resolve it if I am going to ride for 7 hours per day for 4 days otherwise I am going to be in bits !

I have a new saddle on trial via Giant, to be fair it has made a little difference of around 15 minutes longer before the pain sets in but there is little change so I am going to try another type next. I can see this being an ongoing problem until I find the correct one. It’s just as well shops allow you to try them first otherwise you can see its gong to be a very costly exercise. But I need to resolve it if I am going to ride for 7 hours per day for 4 days otherwise I am going to be in bits ! No amount of udder cream is going to resolve this problem.

When looking at saddles its amazing the different designs, some wide, some thin, some with cutouts and some with channels, saddles for him,  saddles her or lets not be specific and say saddles for those with or with out bits !

See below the latest one is made by a company called “Test”

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It was 1 mince pie too many in 2009

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It’s nearly the end of 2017 and I was reflecting on my last post about the 14th of December.

Hence the reason why I used this blog title and please remember us kidney patients have a very strange sense of humour in adversity.

It was Christmas Eve when I started a 10 day course of Anti-thymocyte globulin treatment. Sometimes I heard it called ATG rabbit on the ward.

It’s a treatment for rejection which is derived from rabbit protein. I was rejecting Jo’s kidney on 2 counts according to the doctors, this happened  after I received the gift of life, my second chance.

I was not going down without a fight. Can you imagine the look I would have got from Jo if I had rejected her !

The treatment consisted of a 12 hour infusion of the ATG rabbit for 10 days and then after each session in the afternoon I did a 2-3 hours plasma exchange. This is where blood is taken similar to a dialysis machine, the plasma is stripped and then new plasma is introduced. I am no doctor but I think the old plasma contained the T cells which were killing my new kidney.

When having the plasma exchange I was taken to another ward, at least I got out-of-the-way for 3 hours. It was a relief really as new surroundings, new staff and different people to talk to. Even the push in bed along a very long cold corridor was a refreshing change.

You can see my levels below from before the transplant on the 14th and the time it started to rise again as the rejection was happening, to finally seeing it starting to go back down around the 28th.

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I remember distinctly being pushed to the treatment ward on Christmas day, on the ward they also gave dialysis to patients that were in need. What amazed me was the sudden influx of patients late in the afternoon. One after another appeared. I think I counted 4 in total and they all seems to come in by ambulance. and looked terrible.

According to some they had over indulged on Christmas lunch and had one too many mince pies. I smiled to myself in a weird way and thought all this caused by an extra mince-pie…

It’s difficult to understand that many what we call “good for  you” foods are not very good for those with renal disease  especially this on dialysis..

When you look at a renal diet and let’s be frank its rubbish.

Soon be 2018, I will be continuing with my indoor training session during winter and try to get out at a weekend and then once the days get longer and warmer it will be full throttle out on the road !

So just you go steady on those mince pies, they are potential killers !

 

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The 14th of December will always be the start of a new life

Today the 14th of December is a very important day for me (and the whole family).

It was the day back in 2009 my life was rebooted. The day things turned a corner, day the future once again looked bright ! and no the future is not Orange !

I was one of the lucky ones, I was given a second chance to live, a second chance to enjoy life, a second chance for my family to enjoy, and a second chance to try and make a difference.

It was a Monday morning at around 8 am and my wife Jo was being wheeled down to theatre.

Watching Jo go down the ward to the main hospital corridor was the strangest emotional feelings I have ever experienced. I was overwhelmed when I got married but this….  I can tell you seeing someone you love intentionally having an operation that she did not need, to save my life was kind of devastating. It was real drama. After she disappeared I went back to my room closed the door and cried. I could not take my mind off what was happening to Jo.

It’s a memory I hold very close to me now.

I was a nuisance on the ward that morning constantly asking staff what was happening, was everything going to plan ? No complications etc ? You heard anything yet ?

I was due to go down after lunch around 12:30 but by 11:30 a surgical clad team came to collect me for my operation and this fortunately diverted attention.

Once I went to theatre I did say I wanted to know that Jo was recovering before my op. She was.

From that day my life truly changed from this cruel disease.

My wife had donated one of her kidneys to me, from that day she became one of the real and true hero’s in life. she was now a living organ donor. You don’t have to die to give a gift of life.

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This gift of life is the most precious and special gift anyone can give and also receive.

Forget material things in life, forget iPhones, fast cars, big houses, planes, boats, fancy watches and diamonds etc, this far outweighs anything the wealthy can give or afford.

This is pure and simple, it’s a gift of life, its like love and it can’t be bought by anyone.

Thank you to the team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for making this happen back in 2009.

Thank you to my wife Jo for being my donor and the time we have gained together.

David x

  

  

I have been missing …

Last time I was out on my bike was the nightmare return from Scunthorpe, what a weekend.

As you may have thought where have I been, well you would be right I have been missing. In fact I have had a break from everything. So that means work, home and cycling. Yes you got it I have been away in Brittany, France. When you read this I will be 10 minutes from home as I will have landed and heading north on the A61 from Chesterfield to Sheffield.

The only problem with being away is the lack of training and it will seriously mess with me head. The days roll by and I get more anxious about being ready for the challenge, everyone keep reminding me I have had a flying start and there is plenty of time ! Let me tell you there is never enough time.

When I first started cycling I was fine in the saddle region however over the last month I have been struggling a little where my body joins onto my legs on the right hand side. I have been getting a little rubbing. I am not sure if it is a saddle problem or I have overdone it. By having a week off from the saddle hopefully I will see. I have noticed I only have to do an hour and I am in pain. I have done the normal udder cream as you have seen but it bloody hurts.

If it returns very quickly I assume i have a saddle / size / shape issue and no doubt the boys and girls at the Sheffield Giant store will be lighting the way to their shop to open my wallet !

Don’t worry back on the indoor training program on Tuesday evening and I just know it is going to be difficult. For the last week I have indulged as normal on too much food and wine.

I have done a touch of walking and every day I have managed to get a few steps in, but no doubt I will have added half a stone to my mass !

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Here is taste of France… click on the pics and you might just see my kidney donor !

The Good, bad and Scunthorpe to Sheffield ugly trip

Well lots happened last week some good, some bad and some very challenging.

Let’s start at the beginning of the week, well Tuesday anyway.

I got out of bed as normal knowing I was due for a Tuesday night winter training session with Steve from Skyhook in Sheffield. I made the first mistake of the day was when I took my long acting morning insulin. Instead of a reduced amount in anticipation I took a night-time dose. The night-time dosage is 10 more units of insulin compared to the 20 units I would normally take in the morning.

It’s not a massive problem day-to-day as I would monitor my blood glucose and adjust as I go. The ony time a problem is going to occur is when later I am going to carry out some exercise. If I had too much fast acting insulin I would have simply counter acted it and within 2-3 hours, it would be out of my system. With the long acting stuff it is not quite the same, the insulin is being drip fed into my system so eating a little all day long is necessary and when it comes to the exercise it could be problematic.

Jo dropped Charlie off at work which is the normal practice on a Tuesday now, she stops with me until Friday afternoon. Come 16:45 I get my kit on, even applying the udder cream as I am suffering a little soreness now.

Steve’s place is 200 yards away, so I walk pushing Charlie along, I warned Steve I might experience a low and before I begun I topped up with some long acting carbs and off I went. This session was a typical grind. After the warm up I spent 5 minutes at each of 70,80 and 90% and then a 5 minute 50% recovery and did the same again. I have three blocks of this to complete and I was feeling good. It was done at a normal cadence with the section at 90% done slowly which really loaded my legs. I was ready to start the third block and that was the end. I tumbled quickly from 7 to 6 then to 4 and then to 2.9. It was over, I had to cut the session short, eat some fast-acting carbs and recover. Back home I went feeling a little silly I had made a mistake and just when I felt for the first time I would compete the full session I did not !

Thursday quickly came and off I pushed round to Steve’s again and this session was hard, extremely hard. It was made of lots of very quick intensive 30 second blocks with a 30 second recovery. It was extremely high intensity. The first couple of blocks were easy and I thought no problem. Once I got to the 5/6 high speed intensity set my legs felt it. This continued for well over an hour 30 seconds high, 30 seconds recover and after 1 of these 10 minutes warm down and off we went again. This was the first time I had done some HIT training.

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I got to the end of my session got off my bike and my legs had forgotten how to hold me upright. It was intense muscle ache. Steve had broken me on this one.

Before I knew it, Friday was here, and it was the night I decided which train ticket to buy for the Saturday ride. I felt fine, the weather looked ok although cold but not below freezing. I plumped for the 7:08 from Sheffield to Scunthorpe.  I prepped Charlie in anticipation, packed my minute saddle bag with the essentials like mini tool kit, spare inner tube and extra carbs. Fitted her lights (as it would be dark when setting of), mixed and filled my water bottle with glucose water, even got my clothing all laid out. Everything was set ready for an early rise and start.

Off went the alarm and I got ready, off I went. The weather prediction was not far wrong apart from the frost. My road is a dead end and we don’t get much traffic at all, you could tell as the road glistened and sparkled. Not only was it frosty but it was extremely cold.  I jumped on and within 5 seconds of hitting the road I was nearly off as Charlie lost grip. I thought at that time it was time to turn back and crawl back into bed as it was dangerous. It was not helped by the new cycling shoes I bought the week before.

At the end of last week, I went shopping for some road shoes, my current shoes were a mix between road and off-road shoes with pedals to match. The problem I noticed was that they flexed quite a bit whilst pushing hard also they did not feel that comfortable, a bit clog like with no contours internally, and I suffered a little bit of rubbing on some toes and this is a big  no-no for anyone never mind a diabetic. I noted previously that road shoes don’t flex and are extremely stiff which ensures all the power that is used goes to the pedal. The problem with changing the shoes meant changing the pedals too ! A new method of operation to learn.

Back to the ride, I got off the bike and walked down to the local through road. I had to cling on to people’s walls and with the no grip shoes I slid down the hill at several places. I managed to get to the main road and it was clear, also looked like it had been gritted. Off I went very gingerly down a very steep road, if I was to come off and slide now it would be all over for today for certain.

I arrive at the station pretty quickly and got myself the obligatory pain de chocolat and waited for the train to come.

I was awaiting a train on platform 5b, a train arrived on platform 5a and the guard said this was the one to Cleethorpes and I heard a conversation between the driver and the guard and he had pulled to far down the station. The train was really busy and people getting on with suitcases for more than just along weekend in Cleethorpes, something was just not right. The train moved position to 5b to let the Manchester airport service get in. Following an announcement 90% of the people got back off the train and transferred to Manchester. It was farcical with people coming to me and asking if this train was for Manchester. Imagine going on your jolly’s to some exotic place the other side of the world for you to arrive in Cleethorpes ??  ARGHH (before I get pulled by the Cleethorpes appreciation society I just need to make it clear, me and Jo go quite regularly for a walk and it’s certainly upped its game over the last 10 years).

Off we went, when we got to Meadowhall Charlie was joined by two others bikes, she was scared and outnumbered. These bikes had big fat nobbily tyres, chunky frames, suspension and wide handle bars. These bikes were just bullies. When we got to Doncaster she was at peace, all on her own and happy again. Within an hour of leaving Sheffield I arrived all ready in Scunthorpe.

It was freezing I shivered as I stood getting the Strava app ready to track my progress on the ride. I took it steady and warmed up and followed the road until I got to the A18, the route was generally flat so it meant trying to keep my cadence the same and using the gears on small inclines etc, there was no little periods of rest as there were no declines which could help. A bit like being on Steve’s turbo training system.

I could tell I had been doing some HIT training as within an hour my legs were already tired which was unusual. This was probably because I had only had a single days rest from the training and at the moment I don’t think it’s enough.

I followed the A18 and then stumbled across a village called Hatfield as I approached Doncaster, I could not ride through without stopping and calling in on one of Jo’s friend who also has a flower shop, it’s called Charlottes of Hatfield. I had 15 minutes rest talking to Tracey and off I went again.

I started to recognise Doncaster as I approached, I quickly realised I was about to pass the race course. On my approach I kept hearing a little dinking noise on the front wheel, I thought urmm ? maybe I got a leaf or something between the wheel and my brakes.  I approached the island just passed the races and as I went across a very busy island I could feel I had a flat on the front… So, I guided Charlie across three lanes and straight to the pavement and took refuge in a bus stop. I was warm but as I had stopped the temperature felt like it plummeted. I started feeling extremely cold. Not too worry about the flat it would be the first time I could try out my road side skills on the tube change and I could also use the miniature pump and CO2 canister to get my tyre to 100psi.

The tyre came off no problem followed by the tube, I tried to pump it up to find the puncture and it was a pin hole, probably caused by a thorn which was probably the noise I heard a few minutes earlier. Out came the new tube, I fitted it and before I seated the rubber I inflated the tube a little to make sure it was sat correctly on the rim. Odd thing is that It would not inflate, did not matter how quick I pumped nothing would happen. I must have sat in the bus shelter for 20 mins, suffering from brain freeze because of the weather trying to get me head round what was happening. I ended up taking the tube off and trying again and then found a split in the tube.

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There I was at the side of the road in a bus shelter, traffic whizzing past, getting colder with my spare tube faulty.

I did do a quick post before I started the tube change so then I called Jo to tell her I had a problem and to ask how far it was to walk into Doncaster. Jo said 15 mins but I had reminded her I was in my new ballet shoes !  I just put my phone down and it went off ?? I tried to start it again and it just started and stopped. It had a flat battery. Things just got a whole lot worse, in Doncaster, broken bike (had to be carried so not to damage front rim, freezing cold and starting to shiver and at least 2 miles to the train station in clippie clop ballet shoes and no communication and Jo could not track me. Doomed !

I stated looking for a black cab as I had my emergency tenner and card on me. I thought a black cab as I could get Charlie in but nothing to be seen. Off I went after 20 mins of a kind of walking or more like staggering and in the foreground I saw a sign which said “Volt” and I made out a symbol representing a bike. I was facing it directly and could not see the shop it was outside. I got there, and you would not believe it, but it was only a proper cycle shop called Cycle Supreme Ltd. I was saved, in I went, and the guys went straight to work and changed my tube for me whilst I warmed up a little and then I bought a spare tube and of course I had to buy more cycling kit. I bought a pair of what is best described as divers boots. They are covers which keep your feet warm and made from a neoprene type of material. I slipped them on and felt the warmth instantly. The last thing I had to ask was if I could borrow the telephone to let Jo know I was ok. She had no idea my phone had died and also Jo had been googling bike shops etc for me. Jo was relieved I had called and I told her my exact route in case I had more problems and no communications methods.

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So a massive thank you to the staff a Cycle Supreme Ltd for rescuing me, really nice people and a good independent shop.

I was 25 miles from home and it was a slow painful ride home, I had lost momentum but I was determined to get home without help, I did it and all was well.

I charged my phone and  you can see from the picture the battery just died and I can put this down to the extreme temp so in future I need to keep if on my body to keep warm and not in my mini saddle bag !

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I think next on the shopping list will be a new saddle, I have been struggling for a few weeks being sore, a change may be required. As my giant shop friends say, come and empty your wallet here please. Sorry guys you will have to wait till pay-day !

The dreaded virus and start of winter training

Its been a little tough and frustrating over the last two weeks. It was two weeks ago since me and Charlie went on a ride together. Two long whole weeks !

As I mentioned previously I picked up this cold – virus thing and it has dragged on. Normaly after a couple of days I am good to go, but not this time.

Not only me but half of work and my wife Jo, and no.1 step son have been suffering. It got to a point last weekend that we both ended up ill at the same time which is very unusual. We ended up have several zombie days were we basically lurched around the house with no purpose in a trance like state. Jo had a couple of bad days and then like magic she recovered. I could certainly tell as all of a sudden purpose was resumed and she started playing with her favourite toy called Dyson, my favourite to add a little balance is the induction hob, its all mine!

As off today I feel much better got a once in a while bark but I do feel a lot better, it just seems us transplant folk take a little while longer to get better. Main thing I think is rest and with todays modern society it can be difficult.

Anyway some time ago I met a chap in Tesco who was doing a cycling challenge for charity and his group were riding Sheffield to London on a virtual turbo trainer. He had a large map behind him showing his progress and when he hit hills the turbo gets harder and replicated the power required.

I was rather impressed I spent 10 mins talking to the guy and he said he only recently started training and just done a 25 miles ride on the road, and now he was doing Sheffield to London. I thought wow this I impressive, I asked how long it would take him, he told me hopefully he would be done for 7 pm, it was around 10:30. I left him to it and then discovered on my way back past he was doing shifts with someone else. Still impressive but he had me fooled!

When I spoke to him he had said he had taken up the services from a cycling trainer. This sounded interesting so I looked a little further into it.

Winter riding is difficult you lose the light early and also the weather can be quite inclement. The pro and one or two others said I will need to give a turbo trainer a go to keep it up, especially if the weather is bad. This to me seems really boring just cycling along on your bike at home (that is the basic of turbo training and like riding an exercise bike but it’s your bike and feels a little more natural). Some set up TVs and watch films etc but I was also told not to just get on and pedal but need to work to a strict program by having ever-changing power requirements (hills in short) other wise you will last 20 minutes and jump off wth boredem.

Back to winter training and I spoke to Steve (guy who was traing the sheffield to london chap) and he offers cycling training using his computerised turbo training system. So I have signed up for a few months to try to take me through winter and improve my endurance and strength in a controlled environment.

Last night even through I am only 95% and a barking little I decided to have my first session. It was certainly different. I got on the bike for the first time in two weeks and it was tough, but I felt pleased I had got back on the saddle after a break.

The session is constant and that’s the difference so when you are on the road you never actually pedal 100% all of the time , when you are on the flat and going down hill you always tend to have mini rests, but on the turbo you have to pedal without stopping, there are no downhill sections.

The general setup is that your personal power output is established and then you work within your individual zones, so everyone else is doing exactly the same pattern at the same percentage output. So in essence when I am working at 85% of my capacity so is the person next to me but there max output could be more, same or less than me.

The programme I followed stated with a good warm up and then every few minutes I would pedal at 85% power and then for 30 seconds pedal at 120% like billy oh! You repeat this quite a lot over 1 and a half hours. Hopefully your body will build and get used to the requirements and then eventual you can do it with ease (hopefully). Finally a warm down !

Here is a snap shot !

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Next session is Thursday !

 

 

 

Trawling Amazon for more goodies including the taboo subject – read on..

I have been on the lookout for more goodies on Amazon. It’s an expensive thing this training to get from London to Paris. its only a few quis using Ryanair !

I have been looking to top up my fuel supplies and also some chamois cream.

Normally I carry with me on all rides some fast acting carbs in case I have a diabetic low and some longer acting carbs which see me through the ride. Also I take water which has glucose added so I can sip away to keep me hydrated and my blood glucose in check.

Before I managed to workout my diabetes glucose control I was eating like a horse. Now I have got it down to a single long-lasting bar when doing a typical 40+ mile ride. This is more like it.

So here is a sample of my fuel at home.

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Being a Yorkshire man I am keen for a bargin or two and just to give you an example for my water (large canister in the middle) I normally pay around £15 from one of the big four supermarkets for a 500g tub, however for under £15 you can get a 1.6kg tub “ont tinterweb” Bargain. If fact there were so many bargains I ended up with all this. As they say “every little helps” thanks to Amazon.

It will keep me going for months.

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Now its time to move on to the taboo subject of chamois cream, cyclists out there will not be offended in any way as Chamios cream is your friend over long rides.

Time to get to grips with it and here it is UDDERLY SMOOTH
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So we are all human (allegedly) and we either have an udder or we don’t. Its simple we all did some kind of biology at school and its nothing to be ashamed of.

When you have had a transplant let me tell you nothing is secret any more, you have more people prodding and poking you than you can imagine. It did not matter as I am alive.

Lets go back to the evening of 14th of December 2009 and I vividly remember coming round from the operation and being wheeled back to the ward. They got me comfy and then I realised I had a catheter.

Its seems an essential piece of kit, because you are sore you can’t be jumping out of bed every two minutes to go to the loo, having failing kidneys your body has gathered excess fluid so you can imagine all this with a new kidney it is removed pretty quickly. It was constant. But I do remember a nurse called Rachel who looked after me for the first 12 hours and she watched my every move. She had the most annoying noisy clogs on (being in a temp ward with wooden floors did not help) and all she did all night was tug my bloody catheter pipe every few minutes, she would not leave it alone. keep it flowing she said.

Anyway back to the real topic of chamois cream.

You are on a long ride and you are sat on a razor blade of a saddle, guess what udder or no udder it rubs you. This happens on long rides even with your nappy like shorts. I started to really feel it when I hit Sheffield centre on the way back from Lincoln.

You may say why not get a bigger saddle but I think the less contact you have the less chance of chaffing or the other way more the surface more chance of chaffing.

So here are one of my many bib cycling shorts showing the chamois section. This is the bit you sit on which is padded, as I said over time you still get rubbed.

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So you get your cream and smear it over your chamois and then apply some around your udder and the crease of your legs and torso. Just for clarity same applies if you are udderless !

It’s a cream which is antibacterial and gives you lubrication, this help prevents broken skin and saddle soars. It’s the last place you want to be sore. I can see it will be essential and I will be bathing in it when I am in the saddle for 4 days constantly.

As it says it contains natural aloe vera, shea butter and sunflower oils to provide deep moisturising and lasting protection.

Other brands are available ! Not just Udderly Smooth, but I could not resist buying it ! Makes it a little easier to talk about it.

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Its been a busy week and Charlie has been raced by wild horses

Its been a real busy week and with the darker nights here it is even more difficult. I am more determined but I do need to plan my training sessions better.

I have been on the bike twice this week but had planned for a longer session today but once again its been thwarted.

I had Monday night off as I did a session on Sunday morning so I went out on Tuesday evening on my normal peak route out towards Fox house and then back to Holmesfield and then into Sheffield centre via the ring road before returning home. Its a typical 30 miles route which has lots of changes in gradients and some of them are reasonably long if not steep.

I am certainly getting stronger as I got lots of personal bests according to the Strava app. This was good news as it was difficult climbing as I had the full force of a swirling wind and up the main climbs I was heading straight into it. Its was certainly a good workout.

Wednesday I have my once a month Sheffield Area Kidney Association meeting at the Northern General Hospital until 10pm. The committee is a mix of kidney patients and carers and we discus every thing from local treatment through to financial grants for patients in need.

I swiftly moved to Thursday night when I started feeling a little under the weather and all night had a painful sore throat, the dreaded cold was on its way courteously of the work place.

Going to work in a small office environment full of people is a real hazard as within 48 hours 4 of us are suffering. Every corner you turn there are people barking like a dog, snivelling, grasping sweets and tissues with the same hand and sneezing their head off all day long. On Friday there was a distinct smell of menthol in the air but it did not help.

On Thursday morning I booked a train ticket and a bike spot through to Scunthorpe for Saturday. I had planned a nice 50+ mile journey and return via the Northern General Hospital as they were hosting a home dialysis event.

Now the cold had taken me other this was looking less likely on Friday but I did say I would see how I felt on Saturday morning. Well its Saturday 12 noon and I am typing this so as you can guess I did not make the early train from Sheffield as I still feel drained and now snorting like a piglet. My alarm went off at 6:15 and I had a walk around and fell back into bed !

Its getting frustrating as twice now I have not made the train, I feel like I am sponsoring the Northern Nail and now the Trans Pennine Express as I keep buying tickets but not using them.  I think in future I am just going to pay on the day as I am obviously just jinxing my journey and ride.

Looking at the diary, it’s not too bad next week so I am planning to go out on Tuesday and Thursday  evening and see if I can fit in a Saturday morning in.

Oh another thing last night in case I was to get myself out today I did give Charlie a clean and some lubrication. I got here out and found she had been ridden by a couple of young steeds !

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Its Jo, she helps with a Rainbow group and one of her little projects was to make and ride hobby horses around the Green in Dore village. The girls loved them, woudl haev loved to of got some footage of a grwon woman on her Hobby Horse. After Jo got her car out she must have decided that the Hobby horses wanted a ride on Charlie ! They looked like they were having a great time !

Oh I bought a few things too this week, look out for the next post to see my bargains and learn all about the essential udder cream !

The benefits of receiving an organ donation particularly a kidney from my own perspective.

If I was being blunt and direct I would say it keeps you alive and away from the dreaded box ! I must warn you that I and many other kidney patients have a strange sense of humour when it comes to disease and death. It’s one of the things that kidney disease does to you on your journey. Let’s face it, it is a real journey.

Kidney disease is far from as simple as that. Receiving the gift of life allows you to experience as near normal life as possible. A transplant is not a cure but a treatment.

When People with renal disease start their own personal journey, there is a certainty about the end treatment options, the options are conservative care, dialysis or transplant.

What is right for me is not necessarily the right choice for you !

When your kidney function drops to an unsustainable level for life the first treatment normally offered is dialysis. My own opinion is that it’s an option to just stay alive, it does not appeal in the slightest.

Basically, the typical regime is to have dialysis 3 times a week and each session can take 4 hours (always depends on the individual) then on top of this time you have the prep and the getting home so this can easily be over 15 hours every week.

Is this an option? of course it is, as I will repeat ! To me it’s a means of keeping alive and that’s it. Some patients successfully have been on dialysis for many years and manage to live a life, but I can only imagine it being far from perfect, especially when you live a very active life.  Mind you there are one or two who really push life to the limit on dialysis and I am encouraged that should the time come there is a sort of chance.

So what did I choose, initially I was trying to choose between different types of dialysis until we went to an education session for those with low clearance and that is when I first heard the word transplant, when I say first heard I meant it actually meant something to me personally.

During the slippery slope of losing function life was difficult and dark at times. My wife Jo was a fantastic support for me, no matter what she always had positives on the situation. Don’t know why because as far as I was concerned she had married a dud and no doubt stopping around would spoil her life.

Physically during the decline I never really noticed anything considerable happening, looking back now doing things walking up hills etc was difficult, but of course I had an answer to this and that was to use the car ! Hence the reason you don’t notice as you automatically adapt your life when something is progressing slowly to start with.

You get to the point every few weeks when you go for a blood test when you are thinking when will I start dialysis, when will my life finish (going on dialysis at the time seemed life ending), when will I let my wife down, when will I let my family down, when will I let my Mum and Dad down ? when will I let my employer and friends down and so on and so on constantly thinking about letting people down. You can’t plan anything even simple things.

Ultimately my wife Jo donated Sidney the kidney to me, this was no easy decision. Many think you would say yes please job done, it’s not that easy as many things to through your head. Why would I put someone I love very much through an unnecessary operation, it may make her ill, it may go wrong, what happens if I reject Sidney. These things go around and around constantly. I said no several times to Jo we had many conversations where Jo was trying to convince me to say yes. But I wanted to take my chance on and wait for a deceased donor.

One night (and I remember it vividly still today) we were having the normal conversation in bed about receiving Sidney, me still saying no and then Jo pulled a bit of “womanly I am in charge sentence” out of the bag to convince me. Jo said “by having her kidney it would mean that we could both lead a normal life of which we begun together back in 2000 and enjoy it whilst we were still young. She did not want to be looking after me when there is an option available to us” basically I interpreted it that I was being selfish not having it as it would affect her. If this is what Jo meant it worked and that what I needed a bloody great big kick ! I finally agreed.

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Let’s get back on point and talk about the benefits. So, to cut a very convoluted story short I received the gift of life from my Wife Jo. Maybe in later posts I will cover each aspect of the gift of life journey.

The major benefit of a transplant is that it means you can live dialysis free whist it is functioning correctly, this is the most major and positive outcome. Without dialysis this automatically removes all the other negatives to treatment and allows you to live a near normal life. I know the above is only a couple of lines but living a normal life is so special when you have been on the edge.

It has allowed us and I say “us” as it affects the whole family, to live a normal life as I know it, go to work, have holidays, have fun, plan a little further for the future.

You can still do these things on dialysis, but you must meticulously plan everything, it prevents spontaneous decisions.

In the end I am ALIVE so if my cycle challenge can highlight organ donation and allow one single organ to be donated during very difficult times then I have done the job !

Thank you Jo x

This my own perspective.

 

 

55 miles in day ! Yes I did it !!!!

Off I went at 6:45 Saturday morning, I was heading towards Sheffield train station. It was dark and you could see the glow over Sheffield as she started to wake up. The sky was clear with a few wispy cloud dancing around in the background. I was at the station  in quick time at 7 am. It was busy with those arriving for a day of work and also those on their way around the UK for the weekend. Sometimes I catch the 7:29 to London but not this time.

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I got my self a cup of tea and a Pain du Chocolate and patiently waited for the Northern Rail service to Lincoln. Someone at work told me that daily commuters call it the Northern Nail. I asked why and apparently I would know when I got on it.

So it was just after 7 and the Lincoln central on 1A was 7:30 and it was just after 7. Plenty of time to eat my croissant and British Rail tasting cup of tea. That names rings a bell and brings back memories of going on holidays with my mum and dad to Great Yarmouth on Golden Rail. They were the days of travel, hour up hour listening to clickerty clack clickerty clack of the tracks.

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The train arrived and following the safety checks by the crew, on I and Charlie went for a journey to Lincoln.  I now know why some call it the Northern Nail as the train to Great Yarmouth 35 years ago was more comfy, it looked like an 1970s bus and had a few train wheels attached.

I found a spot for charlie and secured her into position with a couple of provided straps and off we went.

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it was a bit of a strange journey really with people looking at you as if you had 3 heads, not too sure if it was because I was taking a bike to Lincoln or something I was wearing. Maybe they were not happy as I was burning their eyes as I had my really bright day glow top on and they had forgot their sunglasses.

It seemed an age to get to Lincoln but then further I got and longer it took I did start feeling a little apprehensive. Started thinking what was I doing this for ? Will I actuely do it ?

I thought I best nip to the loo during my journey as there would be no stopping on the way back. The train left Saxilby and I knew I had 10 mins to go. I knew Charlie would be safe whilst the train was moving. Its so easy to steal a bike as you just ride off on it and you are not  going to catch up running.

Of I went down the carriage and then I thought how is this going to work with the Bib shorts on ? Something the designers of Bib short obviously never thought about.

Off came the day glow and then off came my cycling jersey, got one arm out so I could lower half of the shorts to one side and bingo ! Leave the rest to your imagination. but just imagine if you are a girl.

All prepared I arrived at Lincoln Central and off I went on my bike. I set Strava running and also Glympse. Glympse is a useful APP as it allows Jo to track me and then when I have not moved for a some time she can send the 4th emergency service to find me !

I followed the A57 out of Lincoln but went straight ahead towards Gainsborough instead of the toll bridge towards Worksop. I started well and felt good the only problem I could see was the weather. It was predicted to have strong winds from the south. I initially thought this would help but of course when you look at a map of the British Isles it actually tilts a little and I was traveling east to west and the wind would be a pain not an assistant like I originally thought.

I stormed to Gainsborough, went past West Burton Power Station on my way (I am a frequent visitor), then I hit the A631 which took me from Gainsborough to Bawtry. I stopped for a couple of minutes to carry out some minor shoes adjustments before I was back on my way.

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The wind was getting up and I had to slow down when I was going downhill as it would blow me all over the place and the last thing I needed was to be blown in to the path from the cars approaching me from behind. I never got full advantage of the down hill sections and struggled even more going up hill and more noticeable on the flat. I seemed to be putting more effort in to just keep my speed the same.

I soon hit Bawtry and I knew I was getting closure all the time. As the sign said welcome to Yorkshire !

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Next up was Tickhill, that I had decided would be my little rest stop. I went through Tickhill and found a little sandwich shop where I had my late morning snack. A nice bacon sandwich and brown sauce. I am sure I deserved it after 30 plus miles of wind beating cycling. Here I Text Jo and she said I must be on fire and also I later learned when I got to Hellaby I had turned the Srava APP off.

Through Maltby, then Hellaby and up one of the biggest climbs of the route up to Bramley then Wickersley. To be fair the climb was nothing and I sailed up. The next section was down hill and the wind was back with vengeance so it was a slow descent and my legs had had enough by then. I had lost my energy and even going down hill was a chore. I limped through Rotherham, then Meadowhall and finally Sheffield city centre. The end was in sight, two more hills and I would be home. Somewhere that 4 hours early I thought I would be lucky to see without assistance.

I got home and was relieved and I had a cold bath, I don’t have baths normally but I thought a cold one would do me good ! Hopefully to assist in recovery, well that what Andy Murray says !

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What have a learned form my first 50 mile trek.

  1. The wind can be your enemy !
  2. This challenge of London to Paris is not going to be easy and this just proves it !
  3. I am more scared of the challenge now
  4. Makes me more determined
  5. I averaged 14 MPH so that is a quicker pace than required so I could slow down and go longer !
  6. I can identify a decent bacon sandwich shop
  7. I know why they call it the Northern Nail

 

50 mile

Its Sunday and I ache a little but not in pain. I feel zapped and lifeless a little zombie like, but I still had the energy to give Charlie a good old clean !

 

Don’t worry I am back in the saddle

Don’t worry I am still alive and kicking. Before you ask I have not been in hospital, prison or to the moon and back.

As you will have previously seen I had suffered an injury and some kind of virus. It’s not been great but I am now feeling fine again. When I say it’s not been great I mean in terms of training. I have not felt terrible just run down a little but training has taken a none existant back seat. I know I have 9 months to go but it does worry me not being on the bike and getting fitter. I want to do the challenge firing on all 8 cylinders I don’t want to struggle like hell and not enjoy it. Doing it in sheer pain every day is not the objective.

So my injury was knee related and I think I have finally got some answers, the physio I saw proved it to me. Basically I am not  physically symmetrical, in fact I am imbalanced (no comments please, I already know)

Matt proved it to me my making me do some strange meerkat type poses crossed with a seagull on one leg etc, well that’s what it felt like.

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I have a lot less strength in my left side compared to the right side of my body. How odd I thought, apparently I have less glutes on the left than the right.

I took a snippet from the Internet to give you an idea of what we are talking about.

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I have been given a range of exercises to strengthen these important bottom muscles which hopefully will help my knee from taking all the strain. Who knows my glutes could that big I will need some new bib shorts next ! I could end up like a Kardashian on a bike.  If you see what looks like a Kardashian on a bike its probably going to be me.

I also decided to visit a guy called Steve who has a company just around the corner from work who tests, trains and coaches cyclists. I thought I would invest in him to take a look at me actually on a bike. This was to see if everything was in alignment as I don’t want any future occurrences. Injury is the only thing that will prevent me from riding from London to Paris.

It was a good experience and now Charlie my bike has been transformed, those who look carefully will not recognise her. So what has Steve done ? He has tried to get my body and the necessary angles when sat on the bike correct and to do this he tweaked saddle position, my cleats, advised me on my footwear, crank length and finally turned my handle bars upside down. Of course I am not normal, but I already knew that.

When I say turned my bars upside down what I mean is that he has upturned the stem which holds the bars, this results in the bars being a little higher and less dropped. This has brought a slightly less aggressive position and a little more upright.

I put my trust in Steve and off I went for a little ride, this was to test the new set up and see how it feels but also to give my knee a gentle work out.

I only did 12 miles of which half was uphill of course but things felt good and I was loving the newer relaxed, less aggressive riding position.

Next time I will ride will be Saturday and I wonder if I will need my winter clothing on !

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It’s not looking brilliant and the most concerning thing is the 40+ MPH winds predicted by the weather people. Maybe I will be pushed along by storm Brian during Saturdays journey, I am going north so maybe it will help !

Back soon.

First 50 mile ride ambushed

Its been very quiet on the bike front which is a little worrying for me. You may have noted that I had some kind of strain in the shoulder, neck upper back area following my last ride which was over a week ago.

This cleared up by around Tuesday so I made the decision to get a train booked from Sheffield to Lincoln. Below is the proof that I was serious.

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The last plan was to get the train and then have a good 50 mile ride back home. I had psyched myself up for this and really looking forward to this challenge. I can’t believe I just said that, certainly not 2 months ago. Thought it would be a good session and instead of the norm of up a hill and then immediately down a hill every 20 mins in Sheffield. I could get some good distance over small undulations and enjoy the ride and scenery. Thinking it was going to be more like the french terrain.

On Wednesday I went to see a client near Gainsborough, this takes me on the route I would take, so once again I could take a good look  and was more than happy and a little excited I was about to do my first 50 mile ride !

Then disaster struck ARGHHH!!!

I awoke on Thursday morning and both knees and ankles were in agony ! had I done the London marathon in my sleep?  Not too sure why as I have not been on a bike for a week. As I got moving it eased but not to the extent I was able to do anything strenuous.

In the past I have had some pain with my knees following running, hence the reason I went to the bike thinking this was the way forward !

It is not the same as before as the more I walk on the knee the more the pain went and in the past it has been that bad my knee was severely swollen, hot to touch, red could not put any weight on it at all. This time nothing apart from pain when I have not moved them for 15 mins. Just wondering if it is a combination of not feeling too good like a virus type of thing and my joints have been affected.

So the 50 mile dream is over for this and next week !

I did offer the train ticket to anyone else but a bit problematic as it was only one way. At least it was only £7 ! and the train app provides the weather too and it did not look too good apart from a nice temperature.

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Next weekend is out as I am attending a National Kidney Federation annual conference.

Mind you I might need all next week to recover and I think it is time my knee checked out by a knee professional to see what is going on in there !

The frustrating thing of all this is that I felt in the last week I had made some real progress on the peaks and times were getting faster and faster which I was a good measure of improvement. I was more confident of the challenge ahead of London to Paris but the hard work has been destroyed. So frustrating.

Planning the out of town ride !

So I am thinking of having a ride which is not circular.

Why am I thinking of this you ask?

Well I think that being dropped off in the middle of nowhere by Jo (the 4th emergency service) and get yourself home gives you some more incentive and also I feel that this is going to be more realistic to the challenge in front of me and not just going round in a giant circle.

As I am having a weekend off my bike due to not feeling 100% we went to Lincoln. Me and Jo thought this may be a good start to get a 45 plus mile ride in.

Lincoln is a nice city and has a good mix of the old and new. Lots of  independent shops including the obligatory cake and cup of tea. Always reminds me a little bit of York with the cobbled streets, the cathedral and fudge shops !

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For the 30th of September the weather was great and there was no need for a coat.

So the idea in the next couple of weeks is to get Jo to drop me off north of Lincoln in the morning, then for me to pick my way back home to Sheffield. One thing you need to plan for is that you need to cross the M1 and A1 at some time. I noticed there are a couple of routes where you have to go south to get around the A1. I need to get some longer runs in but it seems a little crazy and not logical to start traveling south to go north !

Just need to plan when now I know where !

45 mile

Oh also this weekend I added to my cycle clothing and added some cold weather gear, including some lovely  bib shorts complete with tights !

Several revolutions forward and one back

This week has been mixed. When I say mixed I started off great at the beginning of the week.

Monday night I had a Sheffield Area Kidney Association AGM to go to, so Monday was out. My first ride out of the week was Tuesday. I was not not too sure which way to go but headed straight up to the peak district, This time I went up what I would call a bit of a challenge for a complete 5 week novice like me, For those that know Sheffield all I have to say is “Long Line”.

I made it and was pleased with my self, I continued the steady climb to fox house and then over to Owler Bar, Holmesfield. Meadowhead, Gleadless and then down to Queens Road and home.

I could tell autumn is on the way as whilst I was out there were leaves starting to fall and the sun dropped very quickly. I got to Holmesfield and it was dark and when I say dark it was dark ! It was hard going when there are no street lights, when I got to the city zone of the new LEDs its was a lot better and easier on the road.

I had done this route before and this time I felt like I was flying and i got home and felt really good.

I rushed to look at my Strava App to see how I had improved. I was gutted as the App had started for 3 seconds and for some reason it stopped, it must have stopped when I placed the phone in my rear water proof pocket.

I certainly improved quite a bit but just can’t prove it.

The next ride out was Thursday evening and I headed north, i did a few circuits from Sheffield centre to Hillsborough (a nice bit of flat training) and then headed to Worrall, Loxley and then Bradfield and home.

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So for the beginning of the week had I managed around 55 miles but then it’s when things took a backwards step.

I awoke on Friday and had a very tight shoulder and a few pains in down my back, neck and chest. I assume I have strained something somewhere but the knock on effect is I don’t feel 100% generally and not well enough to hit the road on Saturday as planned.

It’s a time of as a kidney patient there is need to be a little careful as you need to know if it is a strain or is there other problems like infections underlying etc. Due to this I always start doing some extra monitoring like extra blood glucose checks and temperature readings, these are sometimes good indicators of a problem starting. If there are problems then it is a phone call and then trip to room 1 at Sorby at the Northern General Hospital.

You can never be too careful when you are lucky to receive the gift of life.

2 Rides – 1 weekend

The weekend is here, it wont be long until I am writing my blog in December and the 25th will be upon us.

So off I went with Dave for a ride. Dave is the owner of Cycling Sheffield and he is a professional ! He successfully runs his cycling team. I did ask him what he did for a job before cycling. His answer was cycling. I said no before cycling and he said cycling. Dave basically has been a cyclist all his life so he is a real professional. Dave offered his assistance and information which is good for me.

I told Dave to take it easy and he said he would.

Off we went from Beauchief cross roads and we headed to Totley and then up the rise, next out of Sheffield to Owler Bar. It’s a fair old climb for a novice, I puffed and panted all the way but I made it. According to Strava these are category 3 and 4 climbs.

From Owler bar we headed across to fox house and then up to Surprise View. once again another climb. I was slow but I made it and I did not think I would.

Once at Surprise View it was pure please all down hill catching up cars and vans as we made a hasty descent to Hathersage. One things about being on the larger side of life is down hill your weight certainly gives you some momentum.

Now the thing to realise is that if you have come down you have to go back up to get home.

We had a tea at Colemans Deli in Hathersage and then we were back at it and Dave took my back the same way to Fox House which was a 3.5 mile trek up one big hill  !

I was hurting given the hills involved but it felt great as I have only been at it for 4 weeks and I never thought I would be able to ride up these hills 4 weeks ago. you will see my route below and the elevation profile.

hills

So that was my first ride of the weekend. The second being a typical training run I have done quite a few times to Rotherham, Parkgate, Mushroom garage, Stag, Whiston, Brinsworth and then home.

I keep doing this route as it lets me compare and see if I am improving. Its well rehearsed and has a general mix of flat and gradual gradients.

I felt pretty good even through I did the big climb the day before. I can really tell I am speeding up and this time I did this the quickest ever. Ok I am no pro but did it in 2 hours and 6 mins.

Now the benefit of Strava is that it logs every segment and compares each segment from sessions before. I scored many personal  firsts and shot up the gradual long steady gradients compared to before. I averaged over 12 MPH.

This weekend I logged just short of 50 miles. Not massive but I achieved something for myself this weekend ! It gave me faith that I can do this challenge !

P.S I had no problems with diabetes and only ate a single banana bar instead of the normal 4 !

 

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Changing a tube and tyre

Got home from work after receiving all my goodies on the previous post.

Let the engineering begin, so job one was to change the inner tube and then fit the new “winter” tyres.

Charlie got her own special piece of carpet to lay on and off with her wheels !

Last time I did something like this I was in small shorts and probably around 10 I used to have a Raleigh Grifter and I remember Papalazarou showing how to use tire levers as with all those jumps would make out of wood and bricks I had many punctures.

They were great days changing gear and pedalling as fast as possible down the back alleys of Oldham and up the wood with 5 bricks high and wow I felt like Evel Knievel.

Mind you whilst in Oldham my Dad did take me to see Eddie Kidd and that were I learned all my Grifter stunts !

It’s all coming back to me know and I used to play this dangerous stunt game increasing  the height of the jump by adding more bricks with Ian, Clifford and sometimes Shaun. How we did not end up with multiple fracture I don’t know but we have lots of fun and kids probably don’t do these things nowadays as there is too much cotton wool about in my opinion.

As you can see she’s in bits but not for long. OK its no formula 1 tyre stop but it was good practice for when I am out and about  !

All ready for two rides over the weekend !

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Getting ready to carry out repairs to Charlie

I had the worst possibility when riding, a puncture, I did get home in the end. The very next day I once again trundled my way into the Giant shop in Sheffield.

First was to buy some new inner tubes, secondly was to see how the pros dealt this frustrating situation (brought on by my Dad).

I got the inner tubes 3 for £10 which I thought was not bad and then we moved on to the money time as I was informed of what is required.

The friendly chap in Giant said that he would carry a spare tube or two and then pump your new tube to 45 psi using a mini hand pump. Then the magic starts.

You get a small metal canister a couple of inches long which is filled with CO². you it this to the pump and then inject the gas into the tyre via the pump.

I asked the staff at Giant Sheffield if they had regulars, you know people who call into the shop every single week. The answer worried me as they said yes and I feel like I am slowly becoming a regular which mean more money. When I look at staff all I can see is $ signs in there eyes like the cartoon characters had !

So a few more wine vouchers to a very good cause !

Also during the day I ordered some new “winter” tyres which hopefully will help during the cold and damp weather. When I say winter I am clear they wont help my when it snows !  Also I thought I would invest in more bib shorts at the same time.

More wine vouchers gone ! Its certainly an expensive game this cycling malarkey.

So here are what I have got.. Just need to fit them !

 

Jinxed by my Dad AKA Papalazarou

It’s just begun to rain In Rotheham and I am at the road side awaiting the 5th emergency service to arrive. I say 5th as the 4th is my wife Jo but she is doing rainbow things

Scott number one step son is coming to the rescue.

I was on fire for speed and managed an average of 15 MPH over 10 miles I was a 3rd round my normal circuit loop. Then pop bumperty bumperty bump and grind to a halt.

Bloody flat tyre 10 miles from home and nothing to repair it with. That will teach me.

It’s raining a little harder now.

Winding back the clock I spoke to mom and papalazarou on the phone and my dad was going on about punctures. He was helpful when he said can’t I carry a spare wheel…  Not a tube but a spare wheel!!

He said he warned and in less than 24 hours his jinx came true!

Must be organised next time

Oh the pub in the distance is shut as I could have used my emergency tenner.

Poor Charlie

Going for a longer ride – AND I HIT 40 MILES !!!!!

It’s a Saturday morning so it’s a riding day. Charlie has had its first service and it feels new, even through it is only 4 weeks old.

Midweek I did a quick 25 miles but was more tricky to organise with my bike going for a service and a few other commitments.

I wanted to try to get a little bit further than the normal 27 miles to see how I get on. I thought I would try for distance and to do this for now I want to do more flat work.  How wrong I was.

First thing was when I got up I reduced the amount of long acting insulin to see what happens.

The difficulty with the insulin situation is that I have to be organised, As I take it when I get up I have to make the decision there and then. So it’s a difficult one to go out for a ride out of the blue.

I got all my kit together and off I went. As per normal I had nothing planned but took the usual route out to Meadowhall.

You can see the map that I covered a few miles and went through Rotherham, then climbed up through Parkgate and Rawmarsh Hill. I headed north and went through some nice little villages along the way. I then hit Barnsley, headed through Silkstone and emerging at Wortley and then I knew I was a few miles from home but it was mainly going to be downhill or flat.

map

So for all this long and flatter actively… You can see my elevation profile it was far from flat and at times I did struggle, for 100 metres up a very steep hill I did jump off and walk to the top.

elevation

I really enjoyed the ride and as the day went I saw several pros (pros to me !) they are a friendly bunch as they always give a nod of the head or in fact shout hello as you go past (when I say go past its normally as they have stopped and certainly not riding).

The other massive plus on this ride is my blood glucose levels. As I went I ate three cereal type bars and during the ride I started with BG reading of 12 and ended up at between 7-8 all the way ! Looks like the cutting down of long acting insulin.

So the result of all this is that I managed just over 40 miles on the bike, averaged 12.2 MPH.

Today for the fist time my legs and shoulders ache not mentioning the undercarriage department.

This challenge is going to be extremely difficult but I have hope that it can be done. I am on week 4, I think I have learned a lot and got far further than I ever expected to do.

 

Saturday 8th of September – National Kidney Federation executive meeting and then a ride.

Before you know it Saturday is here again. This saturday I have lots planned and the days starts with a visit to Sheffield train station to pick up Holly who is one of the NFK executive members.

The train arrives on time, pick up Holly and then head to Worksop the HQ for the NKF. Today is a pre organised executive meeting of the NKF.  We normally have around  6 of these ever year and it is where the executive members (mainly patients and carers etc) decide on the direction of the charity and then as Chair I give direction to our CEO to carry out the wishes of the executive.

Traditionally these meetings have been held in London, which gives fair chance for all members to attend. This year we have had spring / summer meetings in Worksop and then the winter meets are to be in London. Executive members live all around the UK and transport links always seem the best for the majority when in London.

The meeting went well and we got through a considerable amount of business, we finished about 15:30 so I had a mad dash back to Sheffield, drop Holly off and then home to get into the Lycra for  another ride.

I am starting to find it difficult around Sheffield to start increasing the distance as it is all up hill or down hill. It sounds perfect for training but I feel I can’t spend my life climbing steep hills as I feel I wont be ready for large distances on gradual gradients and the flat.

So this is something to think about over the next few weeks.

This time I headed down the Don Valley and then towards Ecclsefield climbed to Thorpe Hesley, had a quick banana bar and checked my blood sugars. Now I am with technology (well trying) I whatsapped my Daughter Sam and told her I had not got time to stop but will fly past her house in 10 mins.

She was not quick enough with her phone, this was the result.

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I did warn you on the other post that my clothing needed sun glasses! you can’t miss me, Well Sam nearly did !

I headed back to Rotherham and got back on the same old route around Parkgate, Mushroom Roundabout, stag, Whiston, Brinsworth, Meadowhall and back home.

Capture

 

One thing is that my average speed is starting to increase and I am seeing on the same routes I am getting a little quicker every time and can now manage to cycle up Union road in Sheffield.

Apart from monday next week I will be a little hampered with cycling as Charlie the TCR is going for its first service to tighten everything up as I am certainly suffering from cable stretch and a few little noises etc.

I bought some new kit

I was warned as things progressed I would want to buy new kit and upgrade some of the basic kit I had bought. Well it is happening already and I can see as the months progress and I get fitter and the distances increase more new kit will be required. I can see it being a bit like cars that cost you significant sums to keep up!

Up north it is getting darker by the day now which is reducing my cycling opportunity, soon it will be dark when I finish work.

The problem with this is that I would like to continue training on the road but its dark.

I find on my current routes I won’t have a problem seeing the road so much with street lights etc but I have a problem with people seeing me !

So I went out and bought the brightest top I could find to wear over the top of my normal cycling top. Keep me a light warmer and brighter.

Its that bright you would see me coming from the moon and in the day time you will need sun glasses.

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Then the other things are lights, well what a mind field this is….  I ended up with some LED lights which charge up via a phone charger and which have several different patterns of flashing !

I must say the rapid flashing (one down from a strobe) is the best as it really stands out even in the day time. This really annoys me as a driver which is good and shows me it is going to work.

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Hatching a plan with my diabetes expert

I had an appointment last Wednesday at Northern General Hospital with my diabetes consultant. This will be the first time I have seen my doctor since deciding to undertake the challenge.

I had two main points to discuss, number 1 the problem I am having with my CGM of which I keep getting sensors going faulty (the company suggested I spoke to my consultant) and secondary the action needed to try and keep my blood glucose levels stable / up during the ride.

I initially told the expert about my challenge and went on to the sensors. She did tell me that generally there were no widespread problems but some patients do seem to have problems with sensors? Howerver there is no known reason.

Due to my challenge and these issues she suggested I looked at an alternative manufacturer. The system is called Dexcom system. There were several advantageous to the Libre.  The main one is that it communicates to android and Apple phones which warns of impending lows and highs via Bluetooth. This would be great whilst cycling as I would not have to swipe my arm with the handset and I could do something about my glucose intake before I hit rock bottom. Also you can share all your patterns with your doctor.

I did ask her that instead of looking at Facebook at night does she check on all her patients and send a quick message at 2 am if she identifies a problem? Apparently not at 2 am !

The main advantage would be massive to me. Howerver there must be negatives as normal. They are only negatives in comparison to the Freestyle Libre product and No. 1 is cost.

The sensors are around the same price, howerver they are only guaranteed for 7 days and not 14 days like the Libra. Apparently although providing you keep calibrating they normally last patients 2 -3 weeks !

Also on top of this you have the Bluetooth transmitter which sits on top of the sensor, these needs replacing every 3 months. The cost of this is over £200 per three months. So over all I would estimate it to be twice the cost compared to the Libre.

The next problem is phone compatibility. I currently have an Android HTC10 which is relatively new. Howerver Dexcom don’t support any HTC products. So In the end that’s the end of that unless I want to shell out twice the cost and buy a new phone I don’t want.

I then went on to managing diabetes whilst cycling etc. It was certainly obviously that shovelling 10-15 portions of carbs down my neck was not correct and I would probably not lose any more weight.

My expert advised me to cut down on my long acting morning insulin on a cycle day and balance this by using more quick acting before the bike ride.

Simple way to understand this is that you need a tiny amount of insulin all the time to function, the way this is achieved is by using some slow acting insulin throughout the day and night. This releases a very slow amount to enable you to live. Then when you do eat some carbs you use quick acting insulin to combat what you have just eaten.

Yes it sounds too easy. The thing is you learn how much quick acting you need per carb. A good example is in a morning I have one unit of insulin per 10g of carbohydrates. However, at lunch time I have 1.25 units for 10 grams. So the ratio of quick acting compared to what carbs you eat changes throughout a day and I can’t use the same ratio when using a less amount of background insulin.

So I tried this the following day and I had some success in terms of the ride but not in the day time. My insulin levels whilst munching on a couple of cereal bars over 2.5 hours did not fall. Hooray!

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As you can see I did run a little high inthe day time due to lack of long acting insulin. You can see where I had my dinner and then I did some corrective quick acting and was reading 7 when I started at just after 5pm. I need to re-learn what ratios to use on a ride day. Hopefully this will do the trick.

More experimentation to do but I am 50% there!

Riding in the Peak District with no CGM

It was the Tuesday after the all the weekend problems with the CGM and a day before I meet with my diabetes specialist for the first time since deciding to take on the challenge.

I decided to venture into the peak district which is just on the south-west edge of Sheffield. It’s an area of beauty and very popular particular at weekends with cyclists, walkers, climbers and a few taking part in some paragliding.

Just take a look here.

Once again off I went all kitted up with the exception of not having CGM, this is a real pain as I have to take regular blood tests and I won’t get an idea of what direction my sugars are going whilst I am travelling, plus I will have to stop !

Straight in the saddle and I had to do a 1000 ft climb from Sheffield to Fox house. This is approximately 8 miles in total. I was surprised that I managed this without stopping before the summit, however I was slow. As I approached Sheep hills a small group of 5 or 6 fellas passed me at a rate of knots. they said hello and then disappeared into the distance. they were definatly pros!  As I got to the top I stopped and did a blood test to reveal I was 5 so I thought I would take some action and have a lovely tasting banana bar. Yum Yum, then I could see a man on a bike which was quite upright with tiny wheels in comparison to mine. He was peddling like billy-O.

As he was about to pass me he stopped and asked my if everything was OK. It was but then I must have mis-heard him as I said to him I am fine I am just having a banana bar. He replied and looked down at my bike and said he had not heard of a banana bar and where and what is it on my bike.

Well we laughed and off he went home going over the summit and probably down towards Hathersage. As I was just about to get on the bike to get across to Owler Bar  a single cyclist blitzes past me at a speedy pace – whoosh  it was Lisa the lady I bought my bike from, within minutes she was gone ! If you are local to the Sheffield cycling scene I am sure you will know who I mean.

I continued on to Owler bar, Homesfield, Bradway, Low Edges, Meadowhead, Norton and then finally came to Gleadless Townend where I started making a descent towards home.

Apart from stopping to check my BG levels every 20 mins I had a great ride and managed just over 28 miles with a decent 8 miles 1000ft  climb. The plus I did this above the speed I need to do during the challenge. So all I need to do is continue and slowly eek out the distance. I know it’s not massive compared to the pros but a real achievement for me. I was really pleased. Especially as I have not been on a bike for years until the last 4 weeks.

Hospital tomorrow !

 

Problems with my CGM

I know what you are thinking, what is CGM ? Well it stands for a continuous glucose monitor.

It’s not exactly new technology but it is not available on the NHS and its bloody expensive. Hence the reason it is not widely used although the benefits for the right patient can be life changing and can help stabilise diabetes and therefore reduce the chance of complications.

It’s not beneficial for every one, it certainly is for me as it lets you analyse how you body reacts to glucose and insulin intake. Then make the necessary changes.

So why do people take their blood glucose levels?

Diabetes type 1 is where the pancreas stops producing insulin so you have to self administer insulin. Because of this you experience fluctuations of blood glucose within the blood stream. If you go to high you feel rubbish and if you go low diabetics become lethargic, sweat, shake, become confused etc. Some diabetics who have a low in public can often be confused by someone who is drunk. Having a serious low can be dangerous and in fact if left untreated for some time the body can shut down leading to death.

Traditionally, diabetics use regular blood tests to keep track of their levels. The aim is to try to keep it within subscribed limits.  For me it’s between a level of 9 and 4. We are all different.

You will see below a typical blood test !

First prick the finger, offer it to the test strip and bang, 8.9. Just under my upper figure.

 

So you are asking what is different between a CGM and this type of test.

Well its quite easy really. The standard test only tells you what your levels are at the point of the test. So the more often you test the more knowledgeable you are. However to be fair to get a really accurate bunch of readings and to discover a trend you would have to take readings every 30 mins ! Can you imagine the state of fingers after a month,.

If you can discover a trend and what direction you are traveling then you can react appropriately and this is where CGM really comes in.

CGM takes readings every few minutes so you can see trends and patterns and allow you to make decisions.

CGM is what I use and it has really helped me with control as I can constantly adjust food and insulin. Its made a big difference to my life and hopefully I have reduced the potential of any later in life complications.

So I weear a device which sticks to my skin and a tiny hair like thread is inserted into my bodily fluid, ok it’s not in the blood so it runs 15 mins behind my actual blood readings but the most important thing for me is the trend.

Here is a sensor, you can just see the little “hair” in the middle.

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So now I have told you what it’s all about and I can tell you what happened.

I went to bed as normal within target after a ride, I awoke as normal and one of the first things I do is take a swipe of my reader and it tell me what has been happening for the last 8 hours whilst I have been asleep. It showed “low” which means a serious hypo (lack of glucose)

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So what do you do ? You eat some fast acting glucose. This is exactly what I did and gobbled down the obligatory 5 jelly babies and awaited the result.

Nothing happened after 20 minutes so I stupidly had some more ! Yum yum some jelly babies.

It became obvious that there was a problem as there was no change in glucose levels. So I did what I should have done when it first showed an odd reading. That was a real blood test. I did this and I was 14 following all the jelly babies.

So it had gone out of calibration so it was no good !!  Arghhhh

I fitted my spare (I always have a spare but due to the costs I don’t have them loitering my medical box)

However the sensor would not start so I was left with none and had to go back to the old-fashioned way until I got replacements. Thankfully the company who sells and supports that system replace faulty sensors. But for 4 days I was sensors naked which makes checking on the go whilst riding Charlie difficult as you can’t take blood whilst riding !! I will explain this experience on my next blog.

 

 

First ride after holiday – OMG

So I got back on thursday. I had consumed far too much drink and food whilst on holiday. I was dreading my first ride but decided I would have a day’s rest on the friday to let any residue of red french wine and cheese to seep from my system. I decided against the obligatory glass of weekend wine on friday night.

I felt good on saturday morning got on all my gear, then I had to choose my fuel for the session.

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Off I went with no real idea were to venture too this time. I headed out via my normal exit route through Sheffield town centre avoiding major traffic islands and using the car forbidden bus gates and lanes. At last I am allowed to enter them without receiving a £60 fine for straying over the line.

I headed up Penistone road, through centre of Hillsborough and then around the one way system at Malin Bridge, got passed by a “biker pro” as I headed up towards Loxley.

Loxley Valley is a beautiful green area in Northern Sheffield and the road takes you out towards Lower Bradfield. This is a steady long climb for a good half an hour towards Bradfield.

I was really struggling as soon as I hit the first hill. I could tell I had got problems early on in the ride. It was certainly the punishment for going on holiday, as I got to Bradfield disaster and embarrassment struck.

I had climbed enough and when the road was clear both ways, i was facing up hill I turned around in the middle of the road. Argghhh I had not got enough momentum as I turned and fell off, flat on my face.

Why did I fall off ? All down to the cleats and I could not get my feet out quick enough and facing uphill I had no momentum to stay upright on the bike. So lesson to be leaned do not turn around slowly up hill !

Most important thing was that no one saw me (ignoring any injuries) so all was well, I headed back down the hill, into Sheffield and home.

I only did 19 miles but did manage to keep a decent average speed but it was really hard work and I felt that the little amount of fitness I had gained had vaporised into thin air.  Its early days but with a ride like this you start to think would I ever be ready for this challenge next year ?

Diabetes wise and start nibbling after 15 mins things were good but then again I did not go out for a full ride.

Soon be time to get back out on Charlie again.

 

 

Organ Donation Week

This week is organ donation week in the UK. All supporters of organ donations will be encouraging people across the UK to talk about organ donation with their families.

The campaign is not organ specific and is across the board from kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, pancreas etc

There are a couple of main key action points that need to be encouraged and these are

  • Join the NHS organ Donor Register, you can do this by calling 0300 1232323 or visiting organdonation.nhs.uk  
  • Ensure you have the conversation with your family and loved ones. It’s all very well signing up to the Donor Register but your loved ones have the final say and if you are not clear on your intentions then your wishes may not materialise.

In 2016/17 there were over 6000 people on the transplant list, also to add to this a further 3300 were temporarily suspended from the list. So overall there are just short of 10000 people in the UK in need of a transplant as of the 31st of March 2017. No doubt as patients become more critical they will be added to the list.

Why does organ donation matter, this one is quite easy if gives people with organ failure a second chance of life. If the majority of people on the waiting list do not receive an organ they will more than likely die.

Those that are awaiting a kidney can have therapy called dialysis to keep them alive in the short-term to prolong the time they have to receive the gift of life. However, although the treatment is successful in the short time the mortality rate is relatively short compared to transplantation.

I was given a second chance of life from my wife and it is this reason I am riding from London to Paris, not just to raise funds but to raise awareness and show what a transformation receiving this gift can bring.

If you need any more help on kidney specific then you can try the National Kidney federation.

So don’t forget have the conversation !

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France Je ne sais quoi

As I said in the previous post I have been missing for a week.

I am currently sat on a Ryanair flight from Brittany in France back to East Midlands airport in the uk. I have been away for a week to enjoy a nice break from work and have some fantastic food and wine !

Why Brittany you ask, well several reasons really. Here is the list !

  • 55-minute flight from UK
  • Cheap flights
  • Great food and wine
  • Good food
  • Nice and green and not just baron
  • Nice people
  • Moderate weather not too hot or cold most of the time
  • Finally it’s our home

Since my transplant I am always cautious when out of the UK as many of us recipients don’t feel as secure when abroad due to potential health issues arising. Brittany is great for me as I have several escape routes back to the uk in a few hours if I don’t feel too well. Typically, these are

  • Three flights per week
  • Daily ferries
  • 2 hours from Paris and then Eurostar back to London
  • Drive to Calais then short ferry to dover

It’s not that I don’t trust the French health care system but when you are not fully converse with the lingo it makes me a little nervous.

Also after my transplant I was told that I would be more vulnerable to skin cancer, due to the anti-rejection drugs.  The advice is to keep covered at all times and wear factor 50. As Brittany is more moderate it can be achieved. I would hate to be in 32°C and have to hide In the shade all the time as in southern Europe.

Therefore for many reason Brittany’s just perfect .

I had premonitions that once I got my transplant me and Jo would travel the world, however I have had to revise that idea and stick to more advanced countries for my own piece of mind. We all have different thoughts on risk.

During my visit to France for the week we organised a day out in Paris courtesy of the TGV. The TGV is a fast train in France and something I would like to think HS2 will achieve but more advanced, howerver France did it many years ago. Just shows how far behind we are in the UK when it comes to high speed rail. We travelled over 350 miles in an hour and a half. Just amazing.

I have been to a few European cities in the last few years. I have to say I do think Paris is different. It has class, charm, nice people, fantastic green spaces and very low-cost attractions if not free in most cases.

Paris has “je ne sais quoi”

We walked for hours in Paris and at one point we visited the Arc de Triomphe where I believe will be the finish of my epic journey from London to Paris. Jo pointed out that as we walked up the Champs-Élysées was a gradual climb, howerver if I can make it there then that will be easy as I have no doubt the adrenalin will be pumping as I see sight of the finish and my wife Jo.  Then I will have no doubt I will have made it.

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Until then there are going to be lots of gruelling training sessions to complete. Now I have had my holiday let the serious 3 times a week session begin. Starting tomorrow !

Friendly advice – Power of Facebook

I have not been up to much cycling in the last week, on the next post to come you will find out why !

When I decided to cycle from London to Paris my wife decided to publish it on facecloth to start the year long process of building up links to increase awareness and some fundraising.

A few days later Jo was contacted by a someone at the Sheffield Giant store. They suggested I contacted a gent called Dave Coulson who may be able to give me some advice.

I did a bit of research on Dave and it was clear Dave was a professional within the cycling world. What more could I ask for ? This could certainly be a step in the right direction !

I met Dave on a Thursday morning in a local coffee shop / deli called Brigazzis on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield. I had not met Dave before but I spotted him pretty quickly as he was parked outside and I thought surely there were not going to be many people meeting here with a car like this. Mind you he was highlighted buy a couple of yellow flashing lights on a parking wardens vehicle parked behind. The local Sheffield parking wardens were on hand to move Dave on !

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I found more out about Dave, who runs and manages a cycling team in Sheffield called Cycling Sheffield. Dave told me about the team and his concept is interesting and it is all about our city of Sheffield. It was clear within minutes that Dave has a real passion for cycling and just one of the reasons he cycles goes back to his childhood and it gave Dave a feeling of freedom.

He told me that he would like to give something back. As you know that is my own reason for doing the challenge. We continued to talk and Dave said he thought the challenge was possible given the time scale in front of me. Dave said he could help and would drop me a line. Of which he was true to his word and it wont be long until we meet up again to take things a little further.

Now you are thinking what am I expecting ? I am not expecting Dave to train me, I would just like some advice on what I need to do to be in a position to carry out the challenge. A basic plan of how many miles, how many times a week lets say before Christmas, at what point do I step it up to the next level etc etc. Then the hard work is down to me !

I will let you know how things develop on this front as I am sure Dave will make a big difference to my challenge. No doubt be interesting for him as there are always problems with Diabetes and Kidney disease of which I have to manage.

 

 

 

The diabetes experiment on my official third ride on Charlie

I have been missing for a few days since my last ride, well when I say missing I have not been able to write a follow up. Don’t worry I am back today for at least a day.

So I followed my plan and at around 3:30 I poped the little pasta pot in the microwave at work. Everyone thought the clock was wrong and I was on my lunch. Wrong I was “carbing” up for my third ride.

Down the hatch went the pasta, it was a nice welcomed snack later afternoon. I must not get used to this as I will put 6 stone back on!

I went home and got all my kit ready – glucose drink, insulin pen, freestyle libre for on the go blood testing, a couple of Bloks bars, waterproof and of course my emergency tenner.

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Off I went clipped in to the pedals with BG levels around 9.  I had decided I was going to repeat a ride of City Centre, Meadowhall, Rotherham, Parkgate and back via Mushroom Garage, Whiston, Brinsworth, Meadowhall and finally via the city centre.

This idea was that I really wanted to experience the difference of Charlie the bike compared to my trail bike as I did this route 2nd time out with “Frank the Tank”.

I felt strong when I set off and I could just tell things were better on this ride within the first 15 minutes, I was making good progress on the flat and pushing on well. My BG levels were steady and I got to Meadowhall in no time, probably quicker than some of the cars as traffic was far more congested than last time.

I circumnavigated Meadowhall, climbed to Rotherham town centre using the new deserted link road, my BG started showing  a slight downwards trend so in went the some Bloks for energy.

I steamed ahead and made it to Parkgate, across the wash (the wash was well known in Rotherham as it was a toll road. It was British Steel land and they would charge you for cutting the corner, no more troll on the toll any more).

This was the first time I saw a large dip in BG so I stopped had a glucose drink and more bloks. I recovered very quickly compared to last time and off I went with around 13 miles to home. I smashed the climbs compared to last time and did not even have to get off at Brinsworth. This was much better, more power, more energy and was certain it was a little quicker.

There is no need for speed on my challenge as its not a race, but I need to maintain a minimum of 12 MPH to keep up to the timings expected.

Traffic had lessened and I made it back to Netheredge and I had Finished.

Reviewing the ride I was happier with my Diabetes, still work to be done and not be complacent but it was better. I felt stronger, quicker and felt much faster up the little climbs than before.

I logged on to map my ride to see the progress and yes I had improved. In fact I smashed 20 mins off this ride compared to before.

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I averaged 12.1MPH so this is increasing all the time and thinking  back on how many times I stopped in Sheffield for traffic lights and roundabouts this result was very positive.

Question – Was it my bike or just me ? I think ts was a combination of both and the other main key is diabetes as whilst the glucose levels are up at 9 ish then power is available. When it dips I dip pure and simple…

Getting ready for tonight’s ride and the diabetes food experiment

I am getting prepared for tonight’s ride and going to try something different diabetes wise.

So the plan instead of trying to drink 2 litres of sugary fluid is I am going for my diabetes devil food. Pasta, yes its pasta. I love and adore a bit of pasta with a pesto tomato and chilli based sauce.  But it plays havoc, the reason for this is that my body seems to take an age to convert the starchy carbs into energy.

This is a typical night on pasta. Take blood sugars and be in normal range, eat some of my lovely pasta and have the necessary insulin. The pasta takes that long that I end up having a hypo. Due to this I have to top up with jelly babies then around 3-4 am in the morning the conversion is done and before I know the carbs are released and I will be ridding extremely high up towards 18 ! which then I have to counter in a morning with more insulin etc, the see saw begins up and down for the rest of the day.

I have tried having insulin later than when I eat but it’s that unpredictable I just can’t get it right.

The thought is that I need a release of good steady carbs latter in my ride so if I fill up at work at around 16:00 before I go out at around 18:00 I should start getting this carbs to take effect and help me along the way without the low. This is todays 16:00 snack.

 

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As you can see if has nearly 50g of carbs which is a reasonable amount as long it releases slowly.

Whilst I was in Tesco I manged to find something else instead of downing 2 litres of fluid for during the ride and these beauties may do the trick !

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This little bar on its own has nearly 50 g of carbs and is light, easy to carry and I could pop in a segment every 20 mins or until I can find what I need to keep my blood sugars up.

Hopefully with a new strategy this may be the way forward of long acting carbs together with short acting carbs. No doubt my specialist will give me better guidance when I go in a couple of weeks.

The other day when my wife posted about my challenge, she got a response from Giant in Sheffield and they have offered me some free advice about training etc from the racing gang. Just organising a meet up with Dave and be interesting to see how he thinks how I should approach training fo the challenge, at the moment I am just getting on the bike and doing a few miles to steadily build some stamina and not speed !

I will report back tomorrow on the diabete challenge…….

 

 

This weekends session – juggling diabetes again

I planned to go out for a spin on Saturday afternoon.

I am not convinced it was a great idea as I had been out on Friday night and enjoyed some nice wine and food to help my dad celebrate his 70th birthday. I was also due to go out socially Saturday night so I was between rock and a hard place as to what day to pick for my bi weekly bike only training session.

I had been to yet another cycle shop on Saturday morning and saw all the expert cycling fraternity all getting in their new sprockets and sockets etc. I am far from being in their league or club yet.

I went to look for a suitable water bottle, cage and also a small compact saddle bag. You would not believe the complexity in just picking a suitable water bottle to match a suitable cage. Some did not fit well into particular cages etc and the price differences of a bottle ranged from £4 up to £20 and to me being a basic pretend cyclist (AKA Road Lice) they are just water bottles. No doubt some of you semi pro riders will be able to enlighten me as to the difference but I am lost.

So I found a suitable bottle and cage after 10 minutes of deliberations.  moving on to the bag that was quite easy. I wanted something I could put my insulin in and very lightweight waterproof and a £10 note. You never know when £10 may become useful to bribe someone on your travels.

I managed to find a little saddle bag and you can hardly see it and it weighed very little in the grand scheme of things.

On the way out I saw some glucose only powder and I took a look and thought this would be perfect for my constant uptake of carbs, my diabetic nurse said “keep sipping glucose”. I went to the counter carrying this tub of powder and I felt I was about to turn into a protein wielding power lifter.

powder

That was that and off home I went to get my kit on and mix the glucose drink in to my new 1 litre bottle.

Thinking about what route to do today and I decided I would travel north to Stocksbridge. Stocksbridge is best described as the last largest town out of Sheffield before the road splits to Manchester and Huddersfield. It has been a steel town for many years and all the works are in the bottom of a steep valley of where the little Don flows. I assume it was built like this to use the river water. The majority of these have now gone and a new out-of-town shopping centre called “Fox Valley” named after Samuel Fox who founded a large steel works on the site has been built.

Just before setting off I checked my blood sugars and was riding around 9 and thought perfect, not to low and not too high. Off I went through Sheffield City centre and made my way towards Hillsborough passing Sheffield Wednesday who were about to kick off at Fulham (Wednesday won 1-0 in the end).

I continued checking my glucose levels and all was stable and I had started sipping my glucose drink after a couple of miles, after around 12 miles my legs started tiring so I checked again and I could I started to drop and got a vertical downwards arrow (means it’s dropping quickly) by this time I started to drink the glucose drink and finished it off only half way round. This trend continued so I called in at a petrol station to fuel up with my emergency £10 and bought 2 x 500mm bottles of still Lucozade and some verbal type bars which have starchy carbs in them for the more long-lasting effect.

I stopped for 15 minutes fully recovered and set back off, the only issue by the time I got home I had consumed 2 litres of fluid and things where sloshing around, which is never a good feeling ! I need to find fast and also sustainable carbs and not just fluid to re-fuel. Maybe time to go back to pasta of which I love but it makes a real mess of control due to the pasta carbs being slow to absorb v insulin so I end up low and then high overnight.

In the end I managed 26 miles on the road and average around 11 MPH in stop start traffic through Sheffield. So reaching my goal of 12 MPH is achievable.

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My main objective is to try to get my diabetes controlled better, if I don’t completing this challenge is going to be extra difficult. Fortunately I go and see my diabetes expert in two weeks.

 

 

Charlie and me for the first time

I am all geared up with Charlie, Bib shorts (adult nappy) and helmet for safety.

The aim of last night was to get accustomed with the pedal situation.  They are not normal pedals, technically they are known as SPD pedals.

Apparently this stands for “Shimano Pedal Dynamics”. there are several different types but I think this is the best solution for me. I could have gone for the road biking version but these protrude from underneath your shoe so its difficult to drop into a lovely little french cafe on the way to Paris without slipping all over the place. So the SPD ones are used with shoes where the cleat system is above the level of your sole. This makes it a little better in case you have to walk. Which probably be more than likely when I face some serious hills.

The worst that can happen with the pedal is that you fall off attached to your bike.

To give you an idea take a look at this video !

 

As you can see it can be tricky and these people look experienced and I have none.

Moving on I took Charlie to try it in a flat park in Sheffield, I could keep close to the grass if need be and it does not have any pesky traffic lights !

I had a good little ride and ended up on the road once I was confident and just put in 6 miles of stop starting.

Ready tomorrow to give Charlie a proper run out and try to get my first 25 miles !

Let the real training begin before the dark nights close in.

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My new bike – TCR (Tricky Charlie Road lice)

Well its going to be a short post tonight, as I recover from the shock.  I have just been to the bike shop and parted with a load of pennies. Jo says its bred and water for a few months until I can secure a sponsor or two !

I have just been trying for the first time this cleat and shoe business and nearly had several side ways falls. Luckily Jo was on standby to help (not laugh!). Its certainly not easy and I am going to need loads of practice before I venture onto the public road. I can just see it now pulling up at some traffic lights sneaking down the inside and failing into a Porsche. Better make sure I am well insured.

So its definitely a girl and now its time for the name. The bike is a TCR, here goes and hope it makes sort of sense, well it does to me.

She is called  Tricky Charlie Roadlice

Tricky for the T as its going to be “tricky” to master the cleats and shoes.

Charlie as he is an extremely important of the medical transplant team at NGH and gave me excellent advice in his softly spoken tone. (Yes I know he is a man but it works in my head but this TCR is a girl !)

Road lice, work this one out for your self but according to work colleagues I have just joined up.

Watch out car drivers as when I am not in my car I will be on Charlie ! don’t know which is most dangerous.

 

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My 2nd Ride – Diabetes Problems

Good old “Frank the Tank” came back out of the garage for the final time, he will later be relegated to my external storage space (wet and cold) before  pick up my new bike tonight.

It was good weather, not too hot or cold at 6 pm but I am a little wary as the sun is starting to go down a little quicker so you have to be a little wary of not getting stuck in the dark.

So I was armed with my new bib shorts (these are shorts which go over your shoulder and keep your back covered and also encompass some padding for down below) It was the first time I have worn them for ridding and to be totally honest it felt like I was wearing an oversized nappy. Not that I have tried one, just my imagination of what it would be like !

I was going to venture a little further this time but not encompass too many elevations. I  don’t have a set route but was going to head towards Rotherham and down the don valley.

As mentioned I am a type 1 diabetic and I wear a continuous glucose monitor which is excellent for cycling as you don’t have to stop to take your blood sugars.

I checked my levels before I set off and I was ruining at 6, so I thought due to the exercise to be undertaken I would have a couple of carb portions to keep me going. This is what I do when I run 5k and it works well as other the time of 5K my levels tend to drop.

So off I went on frank together with my oversized nappy and day glow clothing.

I went through Sheffield city centre, the ride was going well but the traffic was problematic, stop start at all lights and the odd lung full of some of Sheffield’s oldest bus fumes. Talk about wanting to ban diesel cars, they need to tackle some of these first !

I had good run through to Rotherham via Meadowhall (large out-of-town shopping centre) . Eventually I got to Park Gate (Rotherhams answer to a Meadowhall out-of town shopping).

I stopped for a couple of minutes once I got to the large Asda near where the locally famous Mushroom garage is located. It had been a Rover garage for many years and was named Mushroom garage due to a car which was perched on a pedestal which looked like a mushroom

If you look closely you will just see it in the background on the RH side of the photo.

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At this point I checked my BG levels and I was astonished to see I had hit 18 and it was still rising ! This is not good.

No idea what had happened  but I started to make my way back as I had no insulin with me. I did not carry anything apart from glucose as when you are on a mission you need to be as light as possible and any savings is a bonus for me !!

I did get home in the end and covered a total of 24.5 miles and burnt off a 1000 calories !

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I spoke to a diabetes nurse specialist this morning to understand what had happened to my BG levels. Apparently its a classic case of “shock / stress” and the amount of exercise I had undertaken.

So from what I can gather riding through town in all the traffic would have increase my stress levels and my body would have released  epinephrine which gets the body read for a “fight – or – flight” response. Also this would have been released due to the extra strain as my body was told to “fuel up”  Therefore after taking of the carbs initially, this turned out to be a bad idea and that the nurse recommended I slowly sipped a glucose as I went and keep monitoring more often and alow a significant rise in the short terms other wise I could have a serious low later.

Then as my liver had run out of glycogen over night any carbs I ate was being converted back to storage and of course this morning I had the obligatory low then high to follow

Below you will see the increase during the ride and then over night and the bounce this morning. Now I am stable again. Then again have I ever been stable ?

Buying a new bike

So off I went to buy a new bike, I went to several shops as previously mentioned.

Its a difficult and expensive decision to make.

I found a cycle shop in Sheffield who gave me great advice and spent nearly an hour with me and Jo on a Sunday which was impressive.

I also find Sunday shopping a little problematic as there are a lot of triers bot not many buyers so sales staff always seem less interested and spend less time with you.

I have seen this many times when buying a new car, never go on a Sunday if you are serious, as its a complete waste of time. It seems to me that car shopping on a Sunday in the likes of Audi, Mercedes and BMW is a family day out. Car doors slamming, windows going up and down and now with electric tail gates these are also moving to the drone of the triers.  I asked the sales guy who I bought a new car from and even he said never come on a Sunday as I can’t give you the time due to the pandemonium of triers.

I went in one large bike store and this was exactly what I saw, too many people and not enough staff I immediately turned around and went to the next.

So I picked the store, next was which bike? Choices choices choices. I was given the benefits of carbon, disk brakes, different pedals etc and then I had the  explanation about groups sets from Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105 and Ultegra. Still with me ?

I spent a few days thinking about which bike and doing the necessary research including many reviews on line. I went back  to the store to put a £10 deposit on my new machine and low and behold they have got an end of season sale. Great I thought great as there was really good saving on 2017 bikes, however they did not have my size, as it had already been sold in the sale!

Back to the drawing board. I looked at some other bikes in the range and in the end I picked one which was on budget (other one would have saved £200 due to the sale), so that was it a tenner down and it was mine ready for collection.

I had the machine set up on a turbo trainer on Saturday and all is good, all I need is a name and I think its a girl ! I will find out for certain once I make my maiden voyage !

So come Wednesday night I will have picked her up and be fitting my cleat pedals and see if I can fall off at the first set of traffic lights I get to.

My First Ride

As I earlier reported I will start my basic rides on my 16-year-old trusty steed of which I am now going to call him “Frank” the Tank, he is still here after all these years and frank never gives up. The Brakes squeal like a pig when applied and the rear wheel often locks up. But franks still going !

So I give him a bit of a clean and a bit of oil for the chain, check the squealing brakes and off we go, not got a planned route and just head off.

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As you can see I have a little bit of weight to loose around the midriff area and hopefully this will help me achieve my ultimate weight goal of losing at least another stone.

So off I go with my wife dodging and pushing me in her flower van as she is off to the park to practice her 10K. Jo is promising to do a 10K next year so watch this space.

I start nice and easy with a very mild up hill and then I go for it up some more moderate hills. In the end I go up Whitelow lane in Sheffield and that is a real hill and I climbed around 300 foot in 1 mile. Elevation wise I went up 700 foot over 4.5 miles in one session. In total I did 12 miles, but only averaged 9 MPH so It seems slow but not too sure in reality what all this means as it could be swayed by the long inclines.

All I can do is keep comparing it and see if I can improve and then start to add the miles. Problem is that as the night draw closer time is reducing for training on the bike itself apart from weekends.

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Well I made it home and thank fully Jo had started tonights meal as I needed it …

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I have not blogged about putting the deposit on my bike but I did think I would only loose a tenner ! Thats the next post…….

More practical things needed

The most obvious thing I need is a bike ! I do currently have a bike but its a cross between a road and mountain bike. Some people call it a trail bike.

Having looked on the frame its a Raleigh Pioneer Trail 1000 but I can’t find one one line, however when my training starts this will be the bike I start on so you will see some pictures soon. I purchased it from an extinct cycle shop at Sheffield Lane top, Sheffield back in early 2001 ish. So its getting on to be 17 years old, mind you I looked after it and it still goes well downhill !

So yes I need a new bike and this is the difficult one. What kind of bike do I need to fulfil the challenge of London to Paris over 4 days ? Some people say “endurance” others say “racer” “what size” “whats your budget”

I was amazed at the different models available, never thought it would be this difficult. The prices amazed me as they seem to range anything from £500 for a wooden bike with square wheels to £5000 + for a carbon fibre this and that, jet propelled rocket machine of which you could pick up with one hand, in fact one single frame I saw was £3.5k and I could pick it up with my little finger

I have not got a clue I just need a bike to get me from London to Paris and ensuring every once of energy I use is used to propel me forwards.

Some of the cycle shops gave really good clear advice and some just did not bother. I think sometimes this is the outcome of online shopping. I am sure many businesses don’t want to spend valuable time trying to sell you the correct item and then you say I will be back in a week and all of a sudden you buy the same model on the internet. I think we are all guilty of using a business for this.

On this occasion I wanted to try and establish a bit of rapport, as I am going to need all the help I can get. Something I think I may struggle with on line.

So in the end I had managed to whittle it down based upon the perceived service and advice I will get which was based on my initial visit. This is a bit unusual for me as when I want a car I go to the relevant dealer. This is because I know exactly what I want and on this occasion I have not got a clue.

So bike shop tick, bike still to decide on.

 

What next after making the commitment to ride London to Paris

So I have now committed to riding from London to Paris in July 2018. I have just under 12 months to go. All of a sudden there is a mad rush to think about what is required on a practical basis and also to action and assist in fundraising oh and raising awareness of organ donation. So my brain starts working over time, even during the night when I am asleep.

First step was to set up the basics before any publicity. There is no point publicising it if my supporters can’t get the information or infrastructure in providing their money.

So I have just set up a Just giving web site to help raise funds to support the NKF.

So for you keen and generous sponsors here it is.

http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/davidmarshall-nkf

Then someone suggests I should start blogging about the whole experience from making the commitment to doing the ride and getting home. So this is it, as I said on the first post don’t expect a Wordsworth !

My next jaunt into social media will be Instagram and Twitter.

http://www.instagram.com/david.w.marshall/

http://twitter.com/D_W_Marshall

Practically wise I need to think 3 things at the moment and these are training for the event and what I am going to ride and the necessary equipment such as shoes, pedals, bib shorts etc.

 

The actual challenge – London to Paris

I waffled on in the last post and did not really tell you the finer details on the challenge.

The challenge is labelled as 2 capital cities – 300 miles – 4 days.

day 1 – 83 miles

Leave London at 7 am and hopefully arrive for the ferry in Dover 15:30, arrive in France at the hotel at 22:00. Typical ride as follows.

day 1

Day 2 – 79 Miles

Start at 08:00, Cycle through the french country side with sweeping roads surrounded by arable fields, long and gradual climbs with magnificent views and then a gentle descent into the medieval town of Arras – to arrive at 17:00

day 2

Day 3 – 75 miles

Start at 08:00 and cycle through the region of the Somme and its WW1 battlefields, see some allied forces cemeteries and two German cemeteries and take on the twisting climbs through Bois de Thiescourt – to arrive at 17:00

day 3

Day 4 – 70 miles

Start at 07:00 Cycle through Compiegne Forest dappled with morning sunlight. Stop off at the beautiful village of Ermenonville. Cycle through the centre of Paris and experience its hustle and bustle. Pedal from the Louvre, up the Champs Elysees via the Arc de Triomph to the finish at the Eiffel Tower.

day 4

So you can see what I am up against and it all looks scary.

The Challenge “London – Paris”

As I am always busy I don’t tend to get involved in too many challenges. My biggest challenge to date is losing weight. Since I had my transplant I had steady gained weight, everyone blames steroids but I just blame food. I think once you get your transplant you become content and enjoy life more, enjoying life for me was eating good food with a lovely white number from Australia.

My daughter Sam told me and Jo at Christmas she was getting married to Mark, then she told us it would be abroad in Cape Verde. I looked in the mirror and thought OMG I need to get “that” sorted.

So in the space of the 10 months, before I ventured to California I had lost just short of 6 stone. Then from this I started doing a bit of light Jogging and completing a couple of 5k every week.

The problem with running is that it can be particularly bad for your knees with the impact and wearing the wrong footwear did not help.

Now my weight has settled I kept looking at challenges on the NKF website and thought maybe its time I did something a little different. I did not want to run a long distance due to problems I have had with my knees and walking seems too easy ( I had completed a 21 mile walk without any issues previously) so I decided I would go on a bike ride.

London to Paris appealed as I love France, its our second home. So I made a few enquiries and before I knew it I had booked it with Pete the Fundraising manager at the NKF.

So that was it, I am off to Paris.

Helping Fellow Patients

So once things got back to normal including work etc I decided I wanted to try to help other patients who were in a less fortunate position than myself.

I lady called Gerry came into Jo flower shop and asked if as a local business we would support and go to a function at the Holiday Inn Victoria- Sheffield.

My wife agreed and then we realised this was actuality a function to raise funds for Sheffield Kidney Institute, a little ironic really as Gerry did not know of my kidney problems.

There was an after dinner speaker at the event who is a retired kidney transplant surgeon called Andrew Raftery. He was well-known for his stand up antics about the NHS and as predicted it went down a storm. I also knew he was temporary chair of the local kidney patient group called SAKA

I had never met Andrew before but I approached him in the gents toilet, something today he tells in his routine on how he met me in the toilet and found new chairman of SAKA. I attended a few meetings and then I was approached to stand as chair and ever since I have carried out this voluntary role. SAKA help patients and their families directly without all the complicated and dramatic application processes of other larger charities.

SAKA is part of the NKF (National Kidney Federation), this is a federation of over 50 other kidney patients associations across the whole of the UK. This allows us to get an accurate picture across the UK and respond with relevant campaigns in terms of treatment of patients etc.

I was asked by SAKA members to stand for election on to the executive committee and as a trustee, I served on this for several years and became Vice chair and ultimately chair of the NKF, representing all kidney patients in the UK.

There has been many challenges in my first full year (I took it on part way through the previous year) however it has been a complete honour to represent all patients in the UK.

 

 

 

Going Home at Last on New Years Day 2010

So following the trial and tribulations of the rejection episode I arrived home on the 1st of January 2010. Unbeknown to my wife they had let me out. Being the donor she was still confined to barracks so Jo could not pick me up.

I hatched a plan, on Christmas eve 2009 I was told by the medics that providing I had not reacted to the immune system killer ATG Rabbit I was going to be allowed home for Christmas dinner. It did not happen as I had the worse night of my life on the evening of the 24th.

It started at around 10 pm 2 hours after the start of a 12 hour infusion with high heart rates (like I was running a marathon) and high temperatures. I had the bed changed several times as I was drowning in sweat. One thing I do remember is seeing a potential transplant patient called Owen arrive for his Christmas present of a new kidney. From memory he had waited well over 10 years.

The next morning I was in such a state it was decided to keep me in for the day, it was the right decision as I felt awful and just went back to sleep ignoring all the family traipsing in on Christmas morning. I had no interest what soever. No one was impressed when I just turned over and curled up.

So on the 1st of Jan I was discharged and I told Jo I was allowed home to get my new years day lunch. I lied, I packed my bags, got a bin liner full of drugs then picked up by my mum and dad and delivered home for my lunch. It was a strange journey especially as I had been inside for a number of weeks. Something special about seeing people going about their normal routine.

I arrived on the door step and Jo opened the door and said what is the bag for? I told her I was not going back to hospital and I was home for good. It was tearful and a very special moment for both of us.

Our recuperation begun.

Capture

A small selection of my medication

 

Setting the Scene

So I need to set the scene first, when I was 7 years old I was diagnosed with Diabetes type 1. Care for Type 1 diabetes was not as advanced as today. All the doctors would holler  was to concentrate on your feet and eyes. No one mentioned kidneys.

I had reasonable control over the years, nothing to be to concerned about but in mid 2000 I was diagnosed with renal disease by my GP.

I spent quite some time torturing myself thinking about the what ifs in terms of control of diabetes etc, but I was told it was “one of those things”, sometimes being diabetic with good control can still lead to serious complications.

I went to my local GP for the normal 6 monthly diabetes check up, a few days later I got a call to return to discuss some blood test results. This showed a raised level of creatinine and a reduction in kidney function.

It was a bit of a shock but over the following 8 years my function declined and I ended up receiving a kidney transplant from my wife Jo. It was not a straight forward journey, particularly as I rejected my wife on day one and ended up incarcerated in hospital for 3-4 weeks. Now up to 7 years later “Sidney the kidney” is going strong.

I am sure you will identify when I had my transplant when you follow the creatinine trace, the other smaller blips are typical when you are ill such as flue etc.

 

kidney function

 

My Very First Attempt

So I need to set things straight before I start blogging or what ever you call it.

I hated English with a passion at school, I was more maths and sciences. Due to this self inflicted let down I am extremely poor with English language, never mind a second language.

So this is a warning before any grammar and spelling police get rather upset. I can’t spell, poor on grammar, don’t know how to use apostrophes and other punctuation marks etc etc.

We just can’t be perfect at everything, can we ?

So why am I writing this blog,  well in short it is all about my challenge to cycle from London to Paris in July 2018.

It covers from the start of deciding to carry out the challenge through to the challenge itself, well if I manage it.

So this first question I can see you asking is what is the jelly fish all about ? Well for the first time since my transplant I ventured outside of Europe. Going on holiday in the EU always appealed to me personally as it felt a little more safe. However off we went to California for Jo’s special birthday ending in a 0, whilst there I met this little fella who was mesmerising in a tank at Monterrey aquarium.  Just brings back amazing memories.

So hope you enjoy reading this guff