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Blog: Madeleine turns mentor

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Published: 23 July 2014
Blogger: Madeleine Iafrate

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With the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 rapidly approaching, it's hard not to be jealous of what seems to be the lucky few who will be participating.

Although the lucky few actually equated to an unbelievable 20,000 riders last summer, with more expected this summer.

Only last year I was holding a little yellow flag just before one of the scenic hills that feature along the route. I'm interning in London at the moment, and the joys of commuting that I described back in Bristol have decidedly not followed along, as the logistics of keeping a bike whilst living out of a suitcase is beyond my capabilities.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about the exploits of my best friend Immy, who has a stable job and her own house share in London (she's the same age as me - eeek!)

Never having cycled before being entered into the Ride London, Immy has decided to go for the full 100 mile ride and I'm sure she is going to attack it with the same attitude that she has had since I've known her.

This tunnel vision "I'm going to do this even if it nearly kills me" perspective is Immy's greatest strength, because paired with the ability to take on board criticism and listen to advice, she usually gets where she wants to go.

I first heard about this idea when she mentioned doing some cycling with work before the New Year, and no big deal was made of it. It soon became clear that it wasn't just a work thing, but she got a place on the Ride London - after the initial surprise that I probably didn't hide very well, I was really excited for her. She was going to follow the professionals that we've all been emulating in the Giro, and Tour around our home roads.

At this point Immy didn't even have a bike so I was going to get to go through all the motions (even just impart my own knowledge) that I initially did last year. Plus if she turns out to be ridiculously talented and the next Lizzie Armitstead, then I can say to my kids "I taught her all she knows."

So in with the New Year, and Immy has a new bike, Nora the Norco, and I can't wait to come back for Easter to see her the day before her birthday and take her on some surrey hills that might feature on the Ride London.

Knowing the hills before a sportive has always been a great help for me if it's a toughie because then you know what you have to save yourself for.

Now, I took Immy on a shortish route but with a couple of nasty hills thrown in just so that she knows it's not going to be a 100 mile spin around the leafy lanes. Her training had done her well, to the credit of her boyfriend (who introduced the pub ride).

Promise Immy chocolate every few hours and you're there. Apart from, as far as fuelling yourself goes you don't really want chocolate - sorry Ims.

For cycling, you often need an instant sugar hit, so avoid anything that's high in fat and will slow down carbohydrate metabolism. Coco pops would be fine if you could eat them on the move, but practically let's stick to wine gums or jelly babies (other sugary snacks are available).

Immy was also very good at eating every half an hour or so. This will be essential for her in the big ride, and more practice at eating on the move will only make her a better cyclist. And practice she has done, and she even has the 100km King of the Downs under her belt.

If you're lucky enough to have followed the British cycling training plans: beginner or intermediate / advanced (you need membership to access content), I can't stress how important it is to keep your training up even when you have ended them.

All is not well that ends well, and even if you completed them successfully, now is not the time to sit back on holiday for three weeks before your next sportive. I really notice the difference after two weeks not cycling - especially on the hills as my father gleefully pointed out for me after three weeks of working in London.

Sad times, and not what you want in the run up to 100 miles or such. Remember how you felt doing the training plans, some weeks were more difficult than others, but you put your head down and dreamed of the summer, where you crest [insert nemesis hill here, mine is Barhatch Lane] seconds in front of Chris Froome/Marianne Vos, and the crowd goes wild. This is the summer, and you need to reap those rewards. You earned it.

Finally, let's hope the weather is good to you. Unlike the brave Etape du Tour riders last weekend, including my Uncle, who reports back that on descending he was as close to hyperthermia without actually getting hyperthermia than he has ever been. I hope you've all eaten lots of chocolate to recover.

Find out more about how to prepare for a 100mile sportive below:

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