So this time next week I’ll be setting out on a 45 miles bike ride from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle. It’s for the Princes Trust #Palace2Palace charity bike ride and when I first signed up in January, the 1st October seemed like very long long way away. I haven’t had a bike since I was 7 and have never even thought I’d be an adult that rides a bike on an actual road that has cars and buses and roundabouts on it but here I am in 2017 with a proper bike, quite a few road miles in the bag and about to embark on my first charity cycle challenge…
I really love spin classes at the London studio Psycle and have been going on and off for a few years now but getting out on the road for a long distance ride is whole new ball game. The first step was buying a bike and I honestly had no clue where to start. I wasn’t that bothered about the look of the bike although I really wanted it to be from a British maker and I wanted it to see me through the years.
My first port of call was the local cycle shop I got my first bike from as a little girl, Sidcup Cycle Centre. I walked in and spoke to a really helpful friendly man who knew A LOT about bikes most of which went straight over my head. I told him about my challenge and together we chose the Genesis Delta 10 W Ladies Bike. My budget was £500 and this bike was a little over at £649.99 but I wanted a good quality durable road bike which was comfortable plus the bright turquoise colour hopefully helps me stand out as much a possible! I’ve since been told it’s a great bike from lots of bike enthusiasts so yay hopefully I made a good choice and I’ll have this bike for a very long time.
So riding the bike home on my own was an experience! I felt really uncomfortable, awkward and super scared of cars. It literally felt like as they came up behind me, I was just bothering them and they would just knock me over. I’ve since got much more confident in my presence on the road and know now that they can see me and will be patient or wait for enough room to overtake. I took a quiet route through the park and felt proud of myself when I made it home. There was a few adjustments I needed to make like lowering the seat and tightening the handle bars but I couldn’t wait to get back out with my neon helmet for a longer ride.
The next few rides were short 10km rides in the evenings with my best friend Toni who is also doing the #Palace2Palace ride with me. Toni has been cycling for a couple of years now and has really built up her confidence riding to work and into London and I couldn’t have done this training without her. I followed Toni out on the roads and she taught me lots of great tips like making myself seen by getting over to the right in advance, using my core when indicating and how to get up those killer hills by getting in the right gear, out the seat and leaning forwards.
I felt like I really made progress after those first few rides but then we both went away for the Summer and came back with the challenge creeping up and I knew we had to push our training. So the last two Sundays, we’ve gone out with our boyfriends into the gorgeous Kent countryside. We did 22 miles last Sunday and 33 miles yesterday. Each ride has really pushed me out of my comfort zone but I’m so grateful for it. I’ved loved starting my Sundays riding through the countryside for hours, chatting, getting lost, taking in the fresh air and gorgeous views. Being in a group helps so much too as it feels like we are a team and motivating each other, okay mainly it’s the others motivating me but it’s so much fun. I feel like I’m even getting a bit addicted.
A few body things I noticed after the longer rides were my elbows tend to lock out as they are hyperextended, they start to get sore after about an hour so I have to remember to keep them slightly bent and relaxed. Fitness wise, I thought I was relatively fit as I run, walk everywhere, do my Pilates and f45 classes and have been active my whole life but cycling has been a whole new level. I’ve found the hills super challenging on my heart and my legs but love the feeling of getting fitter and fighting to get up those hills mentally.
Next week, Toni and I will set off with all the other riders from Buckingham Palace for our 45 miles and I’m honoured to be a part of this ride and so excited for the buzz on the day. I’m also grateful that this challenge has given me a new activity that I love, totally pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to continue to challenge myself. We’ve already set our sights on riding London to Paris next year.
I also hosted a little Princes Trust themed dinner party on Friday evening for close friends and family and wanted to share my favourite recipe from the night with you. It’s a cherry bakewell slice and kind of imbetween a cake and biscuit and a crumble. With my very best GBBO vibes, I followed a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s magazine but made substitutions and went a bit off track as always. Anyway, my dad loved it which is saying something as he rarely approves of my baking.
For the crumble dough
100g buckwheat flour
85g oatmeal (plus extra for topping)
185g ground almonds
85g coconut sugar
1 tsp almond extract
For the cherry centre
85g coconut sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180C and line a square baking tin with lightly buttered tin foil.
In a food processor combine the butter, buckwheat flour, oatmeal, ground almonds, coconut sugar and almond extract until a smooth doughy consistency.
Using two thirds of the dough spread evenly onto the base of the baking tin.
Pit the cherries and combine in a clean food processor with the coconut sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract.
Spread this onto the dough in the tin focusing mainly on the centre and leaving a border. Add the remaining third of the dough to the border and on top of the cherry centre.
Add a sprinkle of oatmeal and bake in the even for 1 hour until the cherry centre has set and the top is nicely browned.
Leave to cool and then slice and enjoy!
It’s also really yummy to keep for a couple of days and enjoy with a cuppa, preferably watching bake off! Let me know if you try it!
So why the Princes Trust? I’m honoured to be a digital ambassador for this charity and have been learning more about all the amazing things they do as a charity since first being introduced to them at the London Celebrate Success Awards last year. The charity helps young people between the ages of 11-30 have bright future and empowers them to get into jobs, education and training. Their latest #YouthCanDoIt campaign really shows what they are all about, watch the 1 minute campaign video here.
I had so many lovely helpful people who have supported me on my cycling journey this year. My boyfriend Sam who has been so encouraging and always believes in me, my client Shannon Snowdon who gave me lots of advice in getting the right bike and fit. I’ve also been following Laura Scott on Instagram. She’s an ultra endurance cyclist exploring the U.K which is slowly becoming a dream job of mine although I think I have a way to go before attempting her latest challenge which was 969 miles! Then of course my power couple friends Toni and Nick who are super inspiring and have given so much time to help me.
Thank you for reading my journey so far with this challenge and if you’d like to help me reach my fundraising goal then here’s a link to my Just Giving page.
The route looks so beautiful and I can’t wait to vlog the day and share it with you. I will catch up with you after the ride next weekend but you can also follow the day on my Instagram stories.
Love, Lottie x