The final countdown has begun. No, we are not warbling away to Europe’s 1980s classic (although we do have a penchant for 1980s tunes, and dodgy haircuts), but rather the countdown really is on for the 4321 Challenge! Just under FOUR weeks to go! The clocks have sprung forward, flowers and blossom adorn the landscape, pale and pasty legs have been seen out on the bike, the sun has his hat on more often than not and there seems to be a little bit of extra fitness and strength in the 4321 ranks.
In our MainNewsRoundUp, John Craven Style, the 4321 Headlines this week are:
BONG! Marcus Mumford finally released from his plaster-cast and able to cycle a real outdoor bike!
BONG! Finally the team all get to pedal together, in the dark! Flashing red lights a plenty, and we weren’t even in Amsterdam.
BONG! Two new and lovely sponsors join us, the University of Bristol and Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, who will be helping out with our event costs! Thank You!
BONG! Chrissie chicks the boys at parkrun. No shame in that.
BONG! Matt bonks.
BONG! The scientifically-proven ‘Team Nutrition Plan’ takes shape!
A big smile was all that could be seen of Marcus this week, as Dr SawBones released him from his 11-week encasement in an arm cast. With tri-bars attached to his bike – and his wealth of cycling experience on his side, Marcus is now out and about on two-wheels, feeling the rhythm return to his legs. The TurboGarage-PainCave can be cast into the past and the wind can flow through his majestic beard once again. Marcus – welcome back bud.
Over the last weekend we finally pulled our fingers out (of something or other) and all got together to ride, pre-dawn, on a nice loop round the Mendip Hills south of Bristol. Messers Prince and Edwards were out on the road at 3am for a warm up in beautiful riding conditions, and met Wellington and Mumford shortly before 5am. Complete with lovely Lezyne lights, of the white front and red rear flashing variety. Heading over to, and up, Cheddar Gorge the Mendips were at their Murkily Beautiful Best, indeed even by 8am it was hard to tell whether it was actually ever going to get light again. With 75 miles done by the time most people are still not thinking of getting up, a quick T1 in a friend’s kitchen and we jogged off to Ashton Court for the weekly parkrun. A poignant one this week, as it included a minute’s silence and a tribute to a local cyclist and journalist who had collapsed, and sadly died, at the previous week’s event.
An emotional morning, then, and as ever a lovely run in the park and we were back on our bikes to complete a 125 miles for the day, a little run, and 11 hours “out and about”. All good practice for working out lights, food, not crashing into each other (just), talking nonsense and generally having a great time. Learning little things all the time, ways to be comfortable and strong in body and mind, and finding out how to avoid the dreaded bonk. As always the solution being to eat more. Usually cake.
We also had confirmation this week that two new and wonderful sponsors are joining us, helping out with the various costs of putting on the event and making sure our support crew are kept well-stocked up with tea-bags and bacon sandwiches. The University of Bristol (Matt’s employer) and Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports are both on board, and join our extensive list of friendly people and companies who are very kindly supporting us.
As we get closer to the morning of Friday 2 May, and do more specific training, the little details that seemed far away are getting bigger: Who’s bringing the bananas and how many? Does everyone have a decent rucksack? How do we prevent chaffing? Should our red bike lights flash or not? Why does Chrissie need to wee so much on the bike? And most importantly of all – what are we going to EAT? We met up on a somewhat weary Sunday lunchtime after a long morning run to Plan Some Stuff and Write a List. If in doubt, write a list. Very satisfying. Akin to Winnie the Pooh and his ‘expoititions’, we just about managed to chew the fat , and also consume some in the form of cheesy bubble and squeak, cheesy macaroni and non-cheesy muesli. Chrissie was over cheesed having consumed her kilo of Cheddery winnings from the Big Cheese Trail Race. The main topic of conversation over the cheesy themed lunch was, of course Food and What To Do About It.
Luckily for the team we have a professional athlete in our midst. Someone well-versed in the incredible demands of endurance sport and how to fuel appropriately. Someone for whom the marginal gains brought by effective nutrition planning, calorie-deficit calculations, carb-protein-fat ratios, and the most individually-atuned delivery mechanisms are all second nature. “I’ll write a list of the food we need”, chirps-up Chrissie at our planning meeting. And here it is folks:
The essence of Genius, they say, is Simplicity, and that’s something we are all grateful for.
You’ll be pleased that no diagrams were drawn on the other main topic. How to prevent chaffing.
Until next time, then, thank you for reading and remember to donate, pester everyone you know too! Our next blog will introduce our support crew, for they are quite brilliant, and give a bit more detail of our plan for the event itself. Of course we’ll have to come up with a plan first…
The 4321 Challenge Team