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Paris here we come… part deux!

| Blog, Cycling Plus | 23/05/2012 14:20pm

This June Team BikeRadar Madison will be tackling Hot Chillee’s London-Paris 2012 ride. The team is a mix of experienced and, well, not quite so experienced roadies. We’ll be following their progress in the build up to riding 515km in just three days. Cycling Plus’s Senior Ad Manager Claire Hawkins is completely new to road cycling and her Focus is a big change from the Brompton!

Claire conquers Cheddar Gorge

Why Am I Doing This?  Believe me, in the last few weeks,  I’ve asked myself that question, many, many times. Mainly when I’m struggling up a hill, it’s chucking it down and blowing a gale! In fact, it’s fair to say, that if someone had told me a year ago that I’d be riding the Hot Chillee London to Paris ride, I would have laughed……..for a very long time.

So, why?  Eighteen months ago, I found out I had coeliac disease and changing to a gluten free diet has given me bags more energy. An operation last year also put a stop to the excruciating stomach pains I’d been suffering from for four years, so physically I felt able to take on a challenge.

As I work in the UK cycling market, it made sense to do something which involved a bike. But, and it’s a rather big but, until January this year, I’d never been on a road bike…let alone clipped in! So when Scott, my boss (and mate) asked me if I fancied taking part with Madison’s Kellie Parsons and Will Fripp, I naively agreed.

Working full time and with two young children, I knew it was going to be a challenge fitting training in around my family. Luckily, I have a very understanding husband, and I couldn’t do what I’m doing if it weren’t for him. I started off with big rides for me – small rides for most cyclists. 20 miles on the flat, 20 miles with some hills, 35 miles (falling off and hitting a lamppost), a fab 50 miler with Kellie, which we both loved and then started to build in some longer rides.

The Wiggle Super Series New Forest Sportive in April, was 83 miles. I found it tough, and was ready to chuck it in at 65 miles, but knew I HAD to get a big ride under my belt! I finished it. My first really big ride. Then the following weekend, I rode the Cipollini Gran Fondo. Despite having some massive hills (Burrington Combe and Cheddar Gorge), this has been my favourite ride so far. The Focus Cayo Evo 1.0 I’m riding was an absolute dream over the 72 miles.  It was wet and windy, but it was my neck of the woods and I rode the whole thing alone (as my fellow riders were all so much quicker).  Sixteen miles in, I fell off my bike trying to pull away in too high a gear and landed badly on my right arm, really hurting my elbow. I must have looked a proper sight, bawling my eyes out, while I continued the ride.  But I had a word with myself, kept going and finished it. A real achievement.

I was so nervous about my first Hot Chillee training ride. Being new to cycling, I thought they’d tell me I was useless and how dare I think I was up to cycling L2P!  Once I got on the bike, my anxiety quickly subsided and the ride captains were fantastic, giving me loads of tips and advice,  building my confidence-really reassuring me about the ride in June.  Between now and the ride in June, I really need to ramp up my time in the saddle-I’m hoping we might get some sunny weather soon-so far all my training rides have been in far from ideal conditions.

I’m lucky. I work with people who know so much about cycling and have been very patient with their advice and industry friends have been very generous in lending me items for the ride.   I’m loving riding, I really am. I’m still a total novice, but I’m learning every time I go out on the road. And on the rare occasion now, that I ask myself “why am I doing this?” I think of  those who will benefit from the sponsorship money we are raising for Macmillan Cancer Support.

To support Team BikeRadar Madison visit




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