Back in the saddle equals the reddest face that has ever been

Happy new year! Oh! We cycle Tanzania this year!

The start of this blog post may expose the fact that this cycle Africa malarky has not really seemed like a real thing up until about now. Less and I met, planned and plotted fundraising (lots), cycled (a bit) but didn’t really do so much after we signed up. Then suddenly it became 2015 and we realised that we have a lot to do!

Anywho – I am doing a small bashful wave at anyone reading this, hoping you won’t notice that we haven’t posted on here very frequently or for a long time, but that is about to change! I have just ramped up my training plan and Lessia has donned her bicycle and cycled out in the real proper world so fear not, tiny progress is being made. We have also got some very exciting fundraising activities coming up which we will for sure share with you. But right now, I’d like to quickly mention how the start of training again has meant for me the most abnormally red face since Alex Ferguson.

My first proper planned ride in the outside world took me on a manageable jaunt from my south London flat to Regents park around and back again. This is a very good place to train. As you can imagine, the scenery is lovely, there’s a zoo to get you into that, cycling weirdly close to wild animals, feeling that we will be experiencing on our challenge, and there are two loops that you can go round as many times as you like – one slightly shorter and one pretty long frequented by professional looking individuals and cycling clubs like the Rapha team. Once you forget the fact that you have noticed that guy in the lime green lycra lap you about 4 times before you have even done one lap, this is a really great place to practice spinning in a higher gear, being in drops for bits of hill and having long sections where you can get the pace up because the road surface is really smooth and lovely and there aren’t many cars. Also as it is a loop – you can do it as many times as you like.

I’m really glad that this bit of London was incorporated into my first trip of the year – it was raining (inevitably) so I can imagine as the weather starts to get less miserable, this being a place I will visit again to build up my fitness.

Here is the route that I did that day, it was a nice 21 miles, I was worried about cycling any distance further than going to the shop and back again after the Christmas heft but it was really great. I would recommend the park part of the route to anyone who can get there who wants to be able to manage how much or little they do.

I go out with my partner Mike – who mainly does all of the route planning as my sense of direction is pretty shan and I like to pretend he likes it – and we always incorporate a good coffee and snack stop, preferably in a cycling cafe, into our trips. That way you are cycling towards the big lovely caffeinated reward! The only disappointment of this first trip however, was that Machine in tower bridge wasn’t open early on the Saturday morning, which is not so useful for cyclists. So my coffee was prolonged until back at a cafe right by my house. Other that that – hurray! Back on my bike!

—-I’m just going to talk about clothes for a minute—-

To help the pain of getting back in the saddle a wee bit more, I treated myself to a bit of lovely Chapeau! sale action. This jersey and these leg warmers. I also got back into my old fashioned strong man bib shorts (these) and these 10 speed hero socks who do ace patterns, that I have stocked up on, as this is very important. A few nice bits of kit definitely helped me feel more into it, because I am a shallow pig, but practically though – I found wearing this light weight jersey just with arm warmers and water proof jacket in my pocket, was definitely enough even for January in England. So if I am going to make this bit useful in any way I would say don’t wrap up so much and take as little as possible because it gets warm quickly (this may be obvious). Oh and the glove woes that I banged on about last time continue –  it was too hot for regular big gloves – I think I am a freak of nature with ridiculous hot hands, so I wore my Partridge summer ones once more – the search for good gloves continues!

This weekend, I chose to hide from the ice and snow and keep it indoors. This meant no sponge bum and helmet hair but some hard core watt bike spinning at Cadence. As I think I mentioned last time, I can’t recommend this place enough (nice snacks, cyclists’ dream etc). But here, with no outdoors breeze and cool January rain spritz, is where the red face comes in. Really – why so red? Anyway – the class is great and definitely better for fitness than a cycle of equivalent distance, it’s just a different type of training, and it is good to stay away from the ice. I am guessing we won’t have that problem in Africa anywho.

So – what I am saying in a very long winded way is this – getting back on a bike needn’t be scary. Once I was riding with a nice pannier free bike I remembered that I bloody love cycling! But to get me there, using nice well planned roots, coffee stops and well, socks, are my jams. They help me get into the spirit – find some little things like this to encourage yourself and soon we’ll all be jumping into the saddle without even needing bait because the sun will be shining! I plan to take it slowly and build up my miles each weekend. More importantly, I am working hard for my donations – I promise!

—On the donations note

Though our fundraising activities last year weren’t vast, our women’s only dance night triumphed! Dance! Dance! Party! Party! is a women only, free style dance session. There’s no teacher or routine, there’s just disco lights, great playlists and a dark room. We’ve run ours in south east London since late last year – with all money we raise going to this cause and though we have had a couple of venue hiccups we are thoroughly settled in at the Old Nun’s Head; a lovely and really helpful local pub that have amazing pop up chefs. We are building up a really lovely group of regulars who love to have a dance for an hour a week and have already raised over £500. So THANK YOU to everyone who comes – we will continue dancing right up until we cycle, so if you are in South East London on a Monday night and are a lady – come along! It has been ace fun, and the only bit of exercise I took over those horrible winter months.

chrimb dance

—Dancing by the sea!

More dancing will take place by the sea – hurray! Less is going to be starting her very own DDPP in Brighton in February. We can’t wait and will post details once it starts up. We have loved getting in another type of exercise in our training plan and dancing is really perfect. You don’t really have to be able to do anything but move a bit, and you sweat your bum off. You can’t beat dancing to Prince, Phil Collins and the Smiths in one night really.

Thanks for reading – enjoy your bicycles!

Laura x

THIS WEEKEND’S RIDE: London to Tunbridge Wells

Our first fundraising event!


Tonight we will be running our first fundraising event. Hurray! It is set to be a great evening of dancing for women and we hope to run it weekly with all funds on the door going to our cycling cause.

AND I also consider this training because you work everything by dancing for one glorious sweaty hour!

Here’s what it is all about!

What’s that?! 

DDPP is a women-only freestyle dance session happening all round the world. Women of all ages get together to dance to an hour long playlist. The lights are turned off, so you can dance however you want and noone will see you. It’s like doing a workout, without even knowing you’re exercising. The rules are simple: no boys, no booze, no judgement. Just dance how you want, wear what you want and enjoy yourself. It’s the perfect night out, with the guarantee of no hangover!

Monday 28th July (and then every Monday after that!)

The Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, SE14 6TY

£5 per person
DDPP flyer-02

Laura’s London to Brighton experience

The London to Brighton British Heart Foundation ride was my longest cycle to date.

These are my experiences and tips for beginners like me – I think this is probably jam packed with obvious comments, but I need these things pointing out to me as I am a bit of a cycling newbie, any tips greatly appreciated!


Bike icons-05TRAINING…………………………………………………

I hadn’t really done any training in the week proceeding the London to Brighton ride. In fact that week had probably consisted of the least sleep and exercise that I’d had in a good few months. About 3 weeks before the ride I had cycled  my furthest distance to date, from London to Fleet, Hampshire, and 3 weeks before that I had cycled my previous furthest distance to date, doing a picturesque and hilly loop from Crystal Palace to Kent and back.

cp to kent Bike icons-10

I had increased my distance each time I did a long cycle, but rather sporadically and not at an even pace and amount of training at all. I sandwiched in a couple of sessions at Cadence Performance in Crystal Palace beforehand as well. They have indoor Watt Bikes, so you can change your resistance, measure how evenly you pedal and change your pace. They do an early morning session called ‘Sufferfest’, where you follow a professional race on a big screen and match their resisence and pace – all whilst listening to up beat musics like Tina Turner. I thought that getting to Crystal Palace for 7am on a school day would be torture but it turns out that if the sun is shining then getting up and about is not so bad after all, and the hour session goes really quickly when you are trying to keep up with everyone in the class (ranging from hardcore cycle lycras, to older ladies, and to jerks like me). Turns out I need other people around me to spur me on. This is definitely a lesson I have learned in the miniscule amount of training I have done so far. So Cadence Performance is a place I would highly recommend for your training needs if you find yourself in the area. Delicious coffee and snacks in the cafe, cycle repairs, a cycle shop including clothing and accessories, a yoga studio and excellent cycle training facilities. And it is not intimidating in the slightest – bicycles and cakes: you can’t go wrong. I also didn’t feel too put off when the guy taking my payment said: ‘WOW, you look….RED’ after I had come out of the session and back into the world of normal skinned people. So that is a good sign – you’re amongst friends there. Friends with no tact, but friends never the less!

So that, along with pootling around London, was the extent of my training up to the ride.

Stupid Brain…………………………………………………………………………………

Foolishly, the night before the ride I had a couple of drinks and decided that this is the year I WOULD get into the world cup so I MUST watch England’s first match (that idea was short lived and kind of not worth it). You could choose when you set off from Clapham Common and we had opted for 6.30am.  The football finished at about 1am and as we live about 6 miles from Clapham this meant that we ended up having less than 5 hours sleep. Therein lies another lesson learned for next time, for me – it is definitely a good idea to have a good night’s sleep before doing a long ride. Luckily this didn’t affect me as much as I thought it might throughout the ride – it only hit me when I stopped moving about 7 hours later at the end of the cycle. I then became a bit dead and so tired that I couldn’t really say words or have the clarity of mind to turn off terrible 90’s Jennifer Aniston films from the TV or finish my well deserved pint that I had been really looking forward to. But that was my own stupid fault. This ride is perfectly excellent and doable for someone with a medium level of fitness and the right amount of sleep! Being too tired at the end of a cycle also makes you less likely to stretch afterwards which I think is really important for next time. My calves and hamstrings were as tight as anything the next day and still are a wee bit. On my ‘To Do’ list I definitely have ‘learn more about stretching’.

My Bicycle & road bikes for beginners………………………………………….Bike icons-04

I recently bought a second hand b’twin triban 3 road bike, so chose this over my hybrid to do the cycle on (mainly because I had left the bike lock key to my hybrid in Brighton the day before – just another tiny mistake I made in my prep for this cycle that I shall gloss over) but it was fine – it threw me into testing out my new bike and the world of road bikes head first – thankfully not literally. Here are a few things I learned about the good ol’ road bike on the journey:

Firstly, it is pretty scary to get into the drop handlebar position straight away. I am used to being way up there high, even though I have lowered myself with each bike I have owned – starting with a proper sit up and beg bike, through my hybrid, to the new tiny wheeled, tiny framed road bike – so this took some getting used to. I have discovered that you don’t get told when you purchase a bike with drop handle bars, that your default position is not actually down low, with your hands in the drops (that position is for making yourself streamlined in headwinds and to go super fast down hills – this takes some practice!) but actually with your hands on the hoods. I think I managed to get in the drops twice on the whole London to Brighton ride – and we went down a lot of hills hitting c.30mph at times (which was ace! But think how fast you could get in the drop position…eeee). So if you are new to road bikes and need some obvo advise like I do, then don’t make that your default position – you’ll get a bad back.

Bike icons-08Secondly, and this depends on your hand size, I found it quite hard to reach my brake levers with my hands on the hoods, so I had some little shims added to mine – basically some little plastic block things that make your brake handles rest closer to the handlebars so you can reach them better when more upright. Genius! And they cost about 3 quid and anyone can fit them (so my boyfriend tells me but I am sceptical on that front).

Thirdly, know about your gears and how to change efficiently on a long cycle. On this ride, you would be surprised how many pro looking people, dressed in all the gear and on thousands of pounds worth of bikes, could be heard crunching their way up hills in the distance. Some poor bikes took a right beating – including mine because I am not used to controlling both back and front sets of gears.  Obvious tip alert – but if you see a hill approaching then start to change gear as you approach and once on the hill do it gradually and gently. Also, if you stop at lights or for whatever reason, change to an easier gear just beforehand so that you can start up again faster and easier. Essentially, if you are on a bike that you are not used to changing gear on, go out and test it first (which I did a bit the night before but not enough – I am still getting used to my gears and feel a bit sad to batter my lovely bike so much). So in the future I will be more equipped and understanding of my own bike – it makes your ride a lot nicer and it doesn’t wreck your chain. Pretty simple really but something I didn’t really consider before I went out – and it seems others didn’t too.

Bike icons-07Another consideration with a road bike are your hands. I had a bit of a hand ache throughout this cycle as road bike handle bars are a completely different shape to what I am used to and you have a lot more pressure on your hands. I am told that you can get some gloves that can help this for long distance cycling. Now – a specific glove for any sport freaks me out to be honest. It is a bit too Alan Partridge driving glove-esque for me, and I get CRAZY hot hands during such activities, but I really think that this could be an important adjustment for me to make. No-one wants to end up with long term hand/ tendon/ muscle problems just because they want to avoid looking like Partridge. I’m going to suck it up and test some out and I will share my findings on this blog….hopefully a pair that aren’t too ugly…eek.

The ride itself….

Other than a few new bike rusty moments for me, this route made me realise how much I love this bike and cycling. This London to Brighton route takes you across the city through beautiful coutryside with a variety of small and big climbs including Turners Hill and topped off with the biggest climb at the end – the Ditching Beacon which is a mile long slog with a very steep and continuous incline. It was such a nice experience to ride on closed roads and to fly down country lanes with a big group of people. There was the occasional stand still at certain points towards the beginning as people got off and walked up hills causing backlogs which was a tad frustrating as I really wanted to test what my bicycle could do, but I guess the glory of this ride is that it is for all levels. As we went on, we kind of broke away and joined a more manageable group size. I did this with my boyfriend and two of my bestest pals which was super. We found ourselves cycling together and chatting, then heading off alone from time to time to speed up and practice hill climbing and then re-grouping at the very many well stocked stopping points and having a nice cup of coffee and a WI supplied fruit cake. THIS is how cycling should always be. As mainly all of the experiences that I have are defined by the food or drink that I eat then this is probably a good time to go on to how well stocked I was for the journey.

L to BR Bike icons-10


Bike icons-01


On the bike rides that I have done so far, my staple snacks have been summer pudding flavour Mule Bars (look like something you find on the ground, actually taste quite delicious and are jam packed with good thangs) and SIS Go Energy powder, blackcurrent flavour sports drink for carbohydrate loading and fast re-fuelling (which had the tendancy to be a wee bit sickly due to the fakey fruit flavours – so I am going to try and make my own more natural drink I think). Saying that, I have found that they are great for energy and do keep me going. During the London to Brighton we stopped for a 10 minute break about 5 times, as I mentioned earlier the stopping points were great. So as well as nibbling my mule bars for energy (I got through 3 of them during the trip) I also made sure I had a bagel and coffee before I set off and a banana and a bit of cake throughout and drank constantly. I think that people get scared that they shouldn’t eat to much because they might get a stitch – this is wrong and not very good for you, you have to eat the relevent amount because you are burning so much energy. Saying this – I don’t think I ate enough because by the time we got to Brighton I was starving and gasping for a cup of tea! (I had been coffee guzzling for energy due to lack of sleep – which I hear is a good thing – this article says – I KNEW IT!) There are  many great high carb/protein and healthy cycling recipes that I have seen around and want to try out, which I will be surely sharing in the future.

Wear……………………………………………………….Bike icons-03

BUM ALERT! As is the way when talking about cycling I am just going to mention saddle bum briefly. I wore Decathelon’s cheapest ladies padded cycling shorts for this trip (I had worn them before in the past for the London – Hampshire so think I have used and abused these guys to the extreme now) they are no longer cushioned – definitely invest in a good pair of padded bottoms. I will be doing so next time. Say no more….just kidding, my bum was fine generally but I think it is worth investing a little more in a pair that don’t flatten quite so quickly. They were the only proper cycling items I wore apart from my helmet and this was fine for this cycle length. I do have cycle short tan lines on my legs however even though it wasn’t really sunny – just a warning – you do get weather beaten even if you don’t feel it. I am constantly on the look out for womens cycle wear that isn’t made from a hideous colour palette and covered in butterflies and that is affordable and not too cycley – there are some great resources like Cycle Chic and Total Womens Cycling who do many great reviews on nice cycle wear for ladies.

Look around you……………………………………….Bike icons-02

As I said above, I love the the other things that come with going on a long cycling trip too like the views you see along the way, THE stopping for FOOD, being with pals, the pint at the end, as much as I love the cycling itself. There was nothing quite like the last leg of the London to Brighton just after the Ditchling Beacon (which I managed half and walked half – I was SO disappoined that I didn’t get the whole way up!) – bombing it down on the decent from the beacon with the beautiful rolling countryside and the sea in the distance just as the sun came out. Going through the last village where people cheered you on and encouraged you from the sidelines making you feel like a pro, and the finish line on the beach. I took many a picture on this trip as I always tend to do and made sure I looked up and looked around a lot instead of focusing on the direction I was riding. I am definitely going to do this during my training – make sure I go on interesting routes with nice things to look at, as well as  focusing on the fitness element and training goals.


As mentioned, I was so pooped by the end of it that I omitted a very important part of a long cycle – stretching. I did however DAYS later do a nice yoga routine for hamstrings as well as going for a bit of a swim – which did really help. I want to make sure I do work on strengthening my core along with cycle training. This is my favourite Yoga series so far:

Yoga with Adriene:


I like the instructor, she is more bearable than usual relaxing voiced instructers online. I have also seen some cycle specific yoga that I will be trying out and sharing. I don’t know enough about stretching before and after big cycles so that is something I shall be looking into for next time as my legs felt pretty tight for a while afterwards.

Bike icons-06So, this was a bit of a hap hazard, learn as I go cycle in terms of my bike, knowing my energy levels, what I was wearing and what I fuelled my body with. But in terms of enjoyment it was sky high! If you fancy the Ditchling Beacon challenge or just like the idea of setting off from London and arriving at the sea – then totally do this route. The ride also raised 5 million pounds for BHF so was not only a fitness and endurance challenge for someone like me but well worth it for an excellent cause. It is just making me more and more excited about doing it every day for a week in Africa. AH! I’ll have another update for you soon.

Thanks for your time pals! X

I haLondon-to-Oxve Just done over 100 miles from London to Oxford then Oxford to Bristol this weekend – I will be sharing my many highs and lows from this trip soon. Hopefully this one will be shorter and include a sexy glove update. 


First post – welcome!


It has been a long day fiddling with technology and we haven’t even been sitting on a nicycle bicycle. However, we have finally made it onto that internet that we have been hearing so much about!

So, to begin the bicycle related over-sharing that we promised you in our about section, here’s what we have been doing for the cause so far:

  • Laura has completed her longest cycle yet – the BHF’s London to Brighton cycle just yesterday. She will be writing an account of what the flip this was like soon!
  • Lessia has purchased her first bicycle since childhood and is itching to ride that beauty once her hands have fully recovered (post carpel-tunnel surgery). She did go about 3 meters as she couldn’t resist but unfortunately crashed into a lamp post pretty much immediately…so thought it might be best to wait a bit longer.
  • We mastered technology by taking approximately 10 million hours to set up this shiny blog along with our Twitter feed…1 post, 1 follower and counting! As well as helping the charitable cause, you could also help a couple of chaps with their street cred so please follow us!
  • Laura has created a shiny new logo and identity to represent. We will be plopping this on everything from birthday cards to tote bags to the kitchen sink from now on. Hurrah!
  • Finally, you guys are AMAZING! We have already raised over £500 through our Just Giving page and we haven’t even really done anything yet so MASSIVE THANK YOU!

Bye for now,

L & L X