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    A Beginner's Journey - How Health Problems Got Me Into Cycling

    A Beginner's Journey - How Health Problems Got Me Into Cycling

    Two years ago today I was diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. That’s why I started cycling – and it saved me, physically and mentally. It also gave me a community and freedom that I truly cherish and want to bring to others.

    I was four months into a graduate job as a trainee solicitor and life was good. I spent most weekends like your average yuppie: drunk on Clapham Common with no real regard for my health. Exercise? I don’t know her.

    On 9 July, the evening after an annual health check-up, I got a call from a private number. “Amol, I told you I’d call you if there was anything unusual on your blood tests. I’m sorry to tell you there may be something wrong with your liver.” I had early stage Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. It was manageable, but if I didn’t make significant, healthy changes to my lifestyle I would die early.

    I was determined to beat it, including by starting to exercise. But how could I carve out an hour each day when work already left me with no time? I decided to try commuting to work on a Boris bike. Google Maps told me the 6 km each way would take half an hour – the same as my Central line commute and about as sweaty (lucky my office has showers).

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    A Beginner Cyclist's Ride London Training Tips

    A Beginner Cyclist's Ride London Training Tips

    Mel Joined Dirty Wknd for her first ride back in Feb 2017 after signing up for Ride London. Hopefully she won't mind us saying that she was 'as beginner a cyclist as you can be' when she joined, but as you'll read below, through hard work, determination and a willingness to learn, she went onto smash the 100 mile sportive a few short month's later! So impressed were we by her progress, and that fact that she always had a massive smile on her face, we made Mel our 'Ride Over The Year' 2017 (it's a very big deal!) Complete beginner to Rider of the Year in a few short month's. This is her incredible story!

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    Haute Route Ventoux 2021 Ride Report

    Haute Route Ventoux 2021 Ride Report

    Haute Route cycling events exist to offer the amateur club cyclist a high level, professional cycling experience. Multi day stage races, from 3 to 7 days, with all the trimmings you would expect from watching (too much) Tour de France on TV.

    From aggregate General Classification timings and motorcycle outriders to post stage massage, it's not your average Sunday sportive. 

    Two weeks ago I took part in the Haute Route Ventoux 3 day weekend. Reflecting on the event now that my legs have recovered, I have to admit that it was one of the best cycling experiences of my life.

    I wasn’t expecting that, for a few reasons. I think I was expecting the event to be a bit on the serious side, with lots of serious riders all taking themselves very seriously.  

    And it was a serious event. 285km and 8000 metres of climbing in a weekend is serious.

    We'd all trained hard for the ride and wanted to do our best. Unlike some other events I've ridden in the past, I didn't see anyone downing rosé the night before stage one!

    However the fact that riders were focused didn't stop everyone socialising, helping each other out and mixing well. The balance was good, which I was very thankful for.

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    How to Train for Haute Route (in 4 weeks!)

    How to Train for Haute Route (in 4 weeks!)

    I am sitting on an SNCF train from Brussels to Bédoin. My bike has been precariously placed on the top shelf of a large luggage rack in a thin fluro bag (train rules, it’s luggage apparently).

     
    As I head towards the Giant of Provence and the Haute Route Ventoux amateur cycling race, I wanted to write down my top tips for training for a Haute Route event, especially if you don't have much time.

    Just in case anyone is thinking about making Haute Route their 2022 or 2023 cycling challenge.

    I’m not trying to suggest I’ve gone from 0-60 in 4 weeks, I ride my bike a lot. But I usually ride 'for fun' without a real goal in mind; a mixture of crit racing (very short, very hard 30-60 minute efforts) or cafe rides with mates, as well as some gravel/MTB too.

    Training for a mountainous event like Haute Route Ventoux is a different kettle of bike ride, so it did require some different training.

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    How Does Cycling Affect Your Mental Health?

    How Does Cycling Affect Your Mental Health?

    There are many reasons to start cycling. You might need to get your heart pumping and lose weight. Maybe you want to improve your overall fitness goals. It could be as simple as wanting to build some muscle. But keep in mind that there are mental health benefits to cycling too. Various studies have proven that exercising contributes to a more positive mental attitude.  

    Let’s take a closer look at how your interest in cycling can improve your overall mental health.

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    My Journey From Beginner Cyclist To Zwift Racer

    My Journey From Beginner Cyclist To Zwift Racer

    It’s safe to say that the past year has been full of surprises – and, pandemics aside, one of the biggest has been the inordinate amount of time I have spent on Zwift.

    I unwrapped my smart turbo trainer on Christmas Day 2019 (talk about ahead of the curve) with plans to do “a bit of winter training on rainy days” and, a year later, I find myself racing my socks off every Tuesday night for DWWRT in the WTRL Zwift Racing Leagues.

    Yes, it’s sweaty. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s a relatively intense way to spend a weekday evening.

    But it’s also really fun. I promise.

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