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Guest Article- An Invitation to Suffer: The Rapha Manchester to London Challenge

Guest Article- An Invitation to Suffer: The Rapha Manchester to London Challenge

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I have met @chris on the original Keepers Tour. He seemed like a reasonable person at the time. Then again, @rob passes himself off  as a rational person yet he signed up for the Too Much on 100 ride and completed it. People sign up for these crazy rides because it forces them to get in the best shape possible. It makes these long rides more enjoyable or less horrible or both.

But either way, you will hate your life at some point during these rides and vows will be made never to do anything like this ever again, if the sweet baby jesus sees you to the other end. But then the ride is over and you’re pretty psyched and then before long you forget how much it sucked and all of a sudden you’ve signed up for the next one. Its genius, that kind of stupidity. And speaking of stupid things, @chris is even auctioning off a jersey signed by team Garmin.

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

Some might say that I’ve done some stupid things in my time, which I wouldn’t necessarily agree with, but this has to be a strong contender for the most ridiculous. Manchester Velodrome, home of the mighty Team GB track team and road programmes that turned out the like of Wiggo, Cav and Geraint Thomas, to the Olympic Velodrome in London.

350 kilometres in a day. In a day. Fuck.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. How hard could it be? It’d be a great challenge that would raise money for a good cause with the added benefit that I would be forced to really train properly, cut back on the post ride recovery drink, tighten up the sprinters muscle and generally invoke more Rule #5 than I’d previously imagined possible. Along the way I’d most likely risk completely alienating my poor Velomiwidow and cause her to truly come to hate that fucking bike but all for a good cause. (Fortunately the Velominippers are largely on my side.)

Reading the blurb on the Rapha site, part of my brain must have done a great job of ignoring the bit of blurb that described it as hard riding and noted that the first climb would be Snake Pass in the Peak District. Snake Pass has been dropped from the route but it hasn’t got any flatter. There was also a nasty little hill in the last 20km that made me seriously contemplate a compact and dinner plate sized cassette for the day. Emasculate my bike or risk having to get off and walk? Tricky, but Rule #5 carried the day and the standard remains.

Manchester to London - Manchester, England - Google Chrome 12082014 154441.bmp

This is going to be by far the toughest thing I’ve done on the bike but it’s for a great cause, Ambitious about Autism is a national charity that helps children and young people with Autism to learn, thrive and achieve.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. It affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them.

Ambitious about Autism works to improve the services available for children and young people with autism and increase awareness and understanding of the condition. They’re also committed to campaigning for change to ensure the needs of people with autism are understood and met.

Through TreeHouse School and Ambitious Support the provide specialist education and support. If you’d like to know more about Ambitious about Autism watch this short film, read their impact report or visit the website.

It’d be fantastic if you’d go as far as sponsoring me but at the same time I get that 99% of you have never met me and are never likely too so I’d completely understand it if you’d rather save your charitable spend for someone you know and a cause that might be closer to home. There is another way, though. Jonathan Vaughters was kind enough to donate a 2013 Garmin Sharp team jersey signed by approximately 20 members of the 2013 team including Alex Howes, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Fabian Wegman, Jack Bauer, Jacob Rathe, Michel Kreder, Rohan Dennis, Ryder Hesjedal, Andrew Talansky, Steele Von Hoff, and Tom Danielson. The jersey will be auctioned on ebay with all of the proceeds going to Ambitious about Autism* (I’ll pay any ebay fees, postage and any customs charges incurred). Just be warned, it would look awesome on my study wall so I might be tempted to bid as well! Click here for the Auction and if you do fancy sponsoring me as well, follow this link to my Just Giving Page.

Four months after signing up and a month before the ride, the truth is dawning that despite having a months gardening leave in May, I have not trained properly, I’m too fat to climb and I’ll be lucky if I’m peaking in two months. That’s by the by though, I won’t look out of place grimacing in a Rapha film and nobody will notice how slow I’m going in slo-mo.

*All of the money raised, both from donations and the Auction will got to Ambitious about Autism. The costs of organising the ride are covered by the riders and have already been paid.

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Man-Lon-1

// Guest Article // Riding Ugly // The Rides // Unforgettable Rides

  1. The damnedable exchange rate sure makes the US donations less impressive. Count me in as soon as I can get myself to a secure online site.

    You’re fucked, by the way.

  2. @Ccos I’m so way out beyond fucked. Still I’ve got two weeks holiday starting tomorrow, Devon and the coaast by the southern end of the Pyrenees to get stuck into some decent cream teas and gallons of vin roug… …er no, sorry get some serious miles in.

    Exchange rate be damned, it will all make a difference. Thanks very much.

    @mangodave if we should meet I owe you one. Thanks.

  3. Somewhere along the line the link to the jersey on ebay seems to have gone missing. That or I didn’t stick it in to start with.

    It’s here

  4.  

    @mangodave if we should meet I owe you one. Thanks.

    FNG here, first post.  I figure I would start out on a positive note and donate to the cause.  The site is fantastic, been following it for a short while.  Already have a copy of The Rules, I’m on the path.  Cycling has been my primary sport/hobby/way of life since I got hooked back in the 1980’s.

  5. @MangoDave I might be biased but that get the award for best first post ever.

    Welcome to LVV.

  6. @Chris

    @Ccos I’m so way out beyond fucked.

    Have you got the detailed route and and time plan?  I might see if I can get over somewhere in the southern half part if you need some drag team support (if allowed) – not that I’m big enough to create much of a vacuum – and assuming I don’t lose my GPS again and get lost!

  7. @Chris – Me twit, I didn’t spot the link – got the route.

  8. Good luck Chris. And, stay away from the contents of that wine rack for now.

  9. I’ve done more than one 350km ride now and they are indeed much better as memories than anticipated trips.

    A ride is long if your Strava page shows the entire country – although by this “rule” more people in Luxembourg do long rides than those in Russia.

    Finally – never tell an audaxer that you have ridden a long way unless your ride involved riding from Manchester to London and back with an hour’s worth of sleep in a ditch around midnight.  Although they wear SPD compatible sandals so what do they know.

    Good luck – you will be Fantastic.

  10. @Teocalli As far as I know there are no rules about getting “outside assistance”. The organisers plan is that people will ride in groups but how it will pan out, I’ve no idea.

    Any support, whether a wheel to follow, cheerleader squads or beer hand ups would be awesome and graciously accepted.

  11. @Bespoke

    Good luck Chris. And, stay away from the contents of that wine rack for now.

    The second weekend in September is going to be epic. Trust me

  12. Chris, as a survivor of 2-much-on-100 I can assure you that you will likely meet TMWTH. Was I upset when I did? No way. I had prepared myself by having some constructive negotiations with my legs after the first 200 km or so. We had each others backs, em..hammies, umm..whatever. Just be thankful that the climbing is up front and doesn’t start until km 240 (Mt Snow: I’m looking at you, ya bastard!).

    You’ll be great. Just keep away from the vino and keep on riding!

    -cal

  13. Did JV give you any Chateauneuf to stick in the wine rack to go along with the jersey?

    Best of luck, sounds mental in the best of our traditions.

  14. @Chris

    @MangoDave I might be biased but that get the award for best first post ever.

    Welcome to LVV.

    Ha! Thanks!  It’s for a good cause, and hopefully we can add some motivation for your ride.  I will definitely be anxious to hear how it goes.

    I suppose this is as good a place as any to offer a few more words of introduction.  I live in the Arizona desert, so this time of year I have to do my Rule #9 rides heatstroke style.  I alternate between the road and the mountain bike.  Current stable of bikes N = 5.  Actually 6 if you count my single speed that I use to ride around town with Mrs. Mango.  Sadly, only 1 of the main bikes is a road bike.  It never rains here, so I can get away with that for now.  (In my defense, it’s a nice Pegoretti, so I don’t often want for another.)  I got my nickname sometime around 1990 – I happened to be reading a cycling magazine with a Bridgestone ad, which prompted me to jealously proclaim in a quiet room “I wish my name was Pineapple Bob!”  Apparently, this is sort of statement is unusual, especially to a non-cycling roommate.  After some confusion and laughing hysterically, he started calling me Pineapple Dave.  However, my two cycling friends rode Bridgestone bikes (MB-3 and MB-zip) and were/are huge followers of the Cult of  Grant Petersen.  There was no fucking way that a Specialized rider (me) was allowed to claim any of the Pineapple lore.  In fun and in mocking, they started calling me Mango.  Somehow it stuck.

  15. Great cause. As for the distance, I have nothing to offer except may the force be with you.

  16. Enjoy your ride chris, it will be a noble one!

  17. @Chris

    @Teocalli As far as I know there are no rules about getting “outside assistance”. The organisers plan is that people will ride in groups but how it will pan out, I’ve no idea.

    Any support, whether a wheel to follow, cheerleader squads or beer hand ups would be awesome and graciously accepted.

    What time will you set out?

  18. In my last teaching job, a teenage Aspergers student came to my office one lunch time and asked if he could join the MTB team. The team was already pretty full and the rides difficult to manage because of the wide range of ages and abilities. I knew very little about Aspergers but I knew this kid a bit. He had some unusual ways and was clearly “different” but he was getting along OK  at a big school, with regular kids in 9th grade. He told me about his bike and the local trails he rode. He drew me a map of a trail network a few suburbs away which I’d never heard of. I gave him the training schedule. I rang his Mum. Who was I to say no? My only worry was how the smart-ass kids would treat him.

    It all went so much better than anyone imagined. He was never late, never forgot a piece of gear, never missed a ride, learned how to fix his own bike, always listened to advice, always said thanks at the end of the day. He was a safe downhiller, ate a bit of dirt on the 4X track (who doesn’t) but on XC days he was in his element. We had us a diesel!

    That year he came to the national school championships. Its a serious competition but also encourages participation at any level. He got top 10 in both short and long course XC. He was completely surprised and overjoyed. I’ll never forget his Mum choking back tears after the short course when he’d had our whole team up on their feet screaming his name and cheering him on. She said she’d become so used to him being an “outsider”. She’d never imagined he could find a place in sport where he could compete for real. MTB turned out to be a perfect fit.

    He’s left school but we email occasionally. He rode an open age 100 MTB race his first year out. Placed 27th overall. He told me afterwards that he accidentally lined up at the start with the elite men but was too scared and embarrased to move back. When the gun went he was so panicked about holding up the elite riders that he just kept pace with them instead. For the whole race. Classic part of his Aspy traits. Funny.

    Enjoy the ride, Chris. Great cause. Ambitious about Autism sound awesome.

  19. @Chris  Epic is the word no mater what the weather! Cal and the rest of us had a blissful day for our 350 jaunt and funnily the course profile was almost the same but the reverse of what you are doing so no worries about that little bump on the outskirts of London. The best advice is eat a lot and often so you have no downward spirals, liquids replacement is ok but solid food is a must too so that between the bottles and things like rice balls you are taking in something every 15-30 minutes. Also I wouldn’t do too much the last week so that you are rested. If you haven’t done the big miles by the 2 week mark it won’t help anyway.

    I will post up a donation to a great cause in a day or so – sorting out my paypal account as I write.

    Have a great ride , it will be one of the most memorable endeavors of your life!

  20. Nice work. Enjoy (if that is the right way to capture riding such a auffer-fest) the ride

  21. Having just returned from a ride where I bonked 40km into a hundred, I can’t imagine riding 350. Best of luck to you, Chris!

    I simultaneously need to eat, puke, sneeze, and die. But first I’ll fry up some sausages.

  22. @harminator Yet another great contribution! Always enjoy reading your posts.

  23. @harminator It seems allot of aspies are drawn to cycling, and it suits them very well. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if allot of top riders are on the autistic spectrum. My theory is that it is the perfect aspie sport. You can be quiet and alone, but have people around, we follow an easy to understand set of rules. No social misunderstandings, no difficult conversations. You are respected for your riding, not your ability to read emotions. As long as you respect other riders and follow the rules (as apposed to The Rules) you are accepted. This is where allot of aspies fall down in other areas, not understanding the ever changing hierarchic and social rules. That and when it gets too much they can be alone and quiet, just back off and sit at the back or put the hammer down and they can drop away if social chit chat becomes too much.

    An aspie I saw giving a talk said he loved cycling because he knew what to talk about. He could talk all day about SPD vs Look or different group sets. He could indulge his “special interest” and also have space.

    I think the “collecting” side has something to do with it. You get to fiddle and collect and try and get everything lined up correctly on your bike. Also, I think the rhythm of cycling and the when you are pushing yourself all you can think about is the next sprint, the next clime, even the road to the next junction, or the next turn, the next log, the next drop, is very soothing to someone who’s mind is going constantly. The Zen nature of it all.

    Given the obsession many cyclists show, the attention to detail we have and the silence of riding even in a group, is it any wonder aspies are drawn to it?

    Aspies kids are not odd, or problematic, they just see things different way. The way I see it (which may not be very accurate) is like being very tired in an important meeting. Lots of people talking, when they all blend in to one, but you know you have to remember who they are and people get angry if you don’t. If you imagine being like that all the time its no wonder stuff gets too much sometimes.

  24. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”  Story of my life.  Chris, that looks like a great ride and certainly a great cause.  I look forward to your post-ride report.

  25. Gianni, What’s the source of the artwork?  That is gloriously horrific.

  26. René Pellarin

  27. 350k in one day? Good lord. Good luck, Chris. That is a stout day in the saddle.

  28. @harminator@Steve Steveson Those are both great stories and fantastic insight into what it can be like to live with autism/aspergers. It’s so important for people to realise that for a lot of people with it, things that we take for granted are so much more complicated but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Inclusions is often the most important thing.

    One of my sons suffered from verbal dyspraxia. It’s not on the same scale as autism but there are similarities. His speech is fine now but it impacted the development of his reading and writing quite severely and he’s also got dyslexia which doesn’t help. He’s always been lucky in that he has a great group of friends who’ve never given him a hard time about it or allowed any other kids to do so. As a result he’s always been really confident but there have been the odd incident that have made us realise how easy it would be to damage that and cause him to retreat into himself or lash out at people.

  29. @Teocalli We’re setting of at dawn. Rapha have just posted the following with regards to feed stations but it gives a bit of an indication about timing:

    Many of you have been asking for information about the feed stations so here is a basic overview for the day:

    Feed station 1 – Carsington Water, DE6 1ST (45 miles in)
    – Large car park suitable for family/friends to meet.
    – First riders expected from 0800

    Feed Station 2 – Bosworth Hall Hotel (88 miles in)
    – Not recommended as a meeting place as parking and access is limited.

    Feed station 3 – Castle Ashby, NN7 1LQ (147 miles in)
    – Ample parking and activities for family/friends.
    – First riders expected from 1400

    Feed station 4 – Woolmer Green Village Hall (187 miles in)
    – Not recommended as a meeting place as parking and access is limited.

    Finish – Lee Valley Velopark, Olympic Park, London E20 3EL
    – Car park, things to do and area open from 1500 for family/friends to wait for riders.
    – First riders expected from 1700

    I won’t be one of the first riders.

  30. @everyone who’ve donated on the just giving page; thank you so much. I’m stunned that people I’ve never met and people whose names I don’t recognise from here have been so generous. Thank You.

  31. @Optimiste It’s long been a favourite. It’s actually a depiction of Paris Roubaix but seemed to fit the Grim Up North cliché so I trimmed it to lose the Rourbaix sign post.

  32. @Optimiste There will be a follow up guest article describing just how horrible it was and how much I suffered.

    @cal

    You’ll be great. Just keep away from the vino and keep on riding!

    -cal

    I’m on holiday in Devon at the moment. Loads of hills (it’s all hills) but I’m afraid there has also been some big nights on the vino. I’ve generally stuck to the whites as damage limitation though.

    I’d forgotten how bad hills can be on a hangover.

  33. @Chris

    @Teocalli We’re setting of at dawn. Rapha have just posted the following with regards to feed stations but it gives a bit of an indication about timing:

    Many of you have been asking for information about the feed stations so here is a basic overview for the day:

    Feed station 1 – Carsington Water, DE6 1ST (45 miles in)
    – Large car park suitable for family/friends to meet.
    – First riders expected from 0800

    Feed Station 2 – Bosworth Hall Hotel (88 miles in)
    – Not recommended as a meeting place as parking and access is limited.

    Feed station 3 – Castle Ashby, NN7 1LQ (147 miles in)
    – Ample parking and activities for family/friends.
    – First riders expected from 1400

    Feed station 4 – Woolmer Green Village Hall (187 miles in)
    – Not recommended as a meeting place as parking and access is limited.

    Finish – Lee Valley Velopark, Olympic Park, London E20 3EL
    – Car park, things to do and area open from 1500 for family/friends to wait for riders.
    – First riders expected from 1700

    I won’t be one of the first riders.

    OK ta.  I’m toying with going up to my Mum’s and potentially seeing if I could pick you up somewhere around / after Bakewell and do an Imperial Ton with you before meeting the VMW somewhere.  I’ll take a look at that and the map and see – though I might be weather dependent (hangs head in shame here!)

  34. Chris, with the deepest respect, you’re a fucking loon.

    Chapeau to you for biting that one off. I couldn’t conceive of it myself, which makes it all the more impressive. You’ll do it, just take it easy on the early hills.

  35. This now seems rather alarmingly real and imminent! The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a mixed bag training wise. I was on holiday with the family, a week in Devon and a week in France down near Perpignan. Devon was ridiculously steep – two of the three road leading away from the house we sign posted at 17% within 50m of the house and the third hit similaer gradients after about 500m. There was no let up after that. France was much better, 85km group rides organised by the campiste with some decent climbs in the foothills of the Pyrenese and a bit of a hammerfest on the way back.

    Having said all that I’d say the traing wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for so I’ve developed some mental strategies to get me through the day. From about now until I climb off the bike at the Olympic Velodrome, I’ll be focussing exclusively on a large lamb rogan josh and four pints of lager – the nutrional regime, cough, I’ve adhered to over the last few months has obviously excluded both of these vital food groups.

  36. @Chris

    This now seems rather alarmingly real and imminent! The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a mixed bag training wise. I was on holiday with the family, a week in Devon and a week in France down near Perpignan. Devon was ridiculously steep – two of the three road leading away from the house we sign posted at 17% within 50m of the house and the third hit similaer gradients after about 500m. There was no let up after that. France was much better, 85km group rides organised by the campiste with some decent climbs in the foothills of the Pyrenese and a bit of a hammerfest on the way back.

    Having said all that I’d say the traing wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for so I’ve developed some mental strategies to get me through the day. From about now until I climb off the bike at the Olympic Velodrome, I’ll be focussing exclusively on a large lamb rogan josh and four pints of lager – the nutrional regime, cough, I’ve adhered to over the last few months has obviously excluded both of these vital food groups.

    All the best for the ride.  Hope you can still climb off at the end!

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