My grand plan of doing a 70-mile ride on Saturday with a shorter one on Sunday was scuppered by two late nights and the rain, writes Libby Ashby. Promising myself I would make up for it during the week, I went to Cardiff to meet Brewin Dolphin’s Andrew Lewis to see if his training was going better than mine. On my return, I headed to the City to see another keen Brewin cyclist, Stephen Jones (pictured).
For Jones, this is his fourth London to Paris. Expecting him to have a serious training regime, it was a relief to hear him say ‘every year I’ve done less and less training’. Despite this, he will still be aiming for the elite speed group, telling me: ‘I like to push on.’
I asked how the first Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research (LLR) London to Paris compared to the others he had done. ‘Last year’s London to Paris was magnificent. What makes LLR’s event so special is that nearly all the participants have a personal connection with the charity and the cycling is fantastic.’
He enjoyed the event so much that nothing would have stopped him coming back this summer. ‘It was so good that if I hadn’t got a place this year, I would have been a volunteer.’
Jones played an important role in the set-up of LLR’s London to Paris. A friend of former England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas, who has suffered from leukaemia and is now an ambassador of the charity, Jones introduced Thomas to the founders of Catley Lakeman Securities. The introduction has led to a charity event like no other, raising money through a professional cycling race.
Lewis has done the London to Paris twice. He was supposed to join LLR’s event last year but unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute due to an illness in the family.
Having played professional rugby for 14 years at the Cardiff Blues and with 29 Welsh caps, Lewis also has some injuries to contend with. He has a few knee problems, arthritis in both hips and is waiting for a hip replacement.
Despite cycling being much easier on the body than rugby, he still has to be careful. ‘I’m very competitive but I’ve had to beat it out of myself, as otherwise I’d overdo it with all my injuries.’
To ensure he doesn’t do too much, Lewis trains with a heart rate monitor. ‘I find if I exceed 180 beats per minute more than three times in one ride, I’ve had it.’
Lewis is an experienced cyclist, having completed Durham to London and John O’Groats to Land’s End on top of two London to Paris rides in the last few years, raising lots of money for charity in the process.
His top tip for these epic cycle challenges?
‘For me the key is to ride as smoothly and steady as you can. It’s about what’s right for you and not how fast others are going.’
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research London to Paris 2014 is sponsored by Catley Lakeman Securities.
Training App Stats: Stephen Jones and Andrew Lewis
Longest ride to date:
Stephen Jones: 84 miles
Andrew Lewis: 143 miles
Current training hours per week:
SJ: One long ride at the weekend
AL: Approximately five hours in the week and a long weekend ride
Last training route:
SJ: A route in Worcestershire
AL: Over the Bwlch and the Rhigos, two big climbs in mid Wales
Speed group aimed for:
Type of bike:
AL: Focus Cayo
Best piece of kit:
SJ: Assos cycling kit
AL: My Garmin bike computer
How on track are you with training schedule?
Confidence level/Fear factor/Level of determination:
SJ: 9 / 0 / 9
AL: 8 / 0 / 9
High energy snacks:
SJ: Electrolyte drinks
AL: Power gels; they help you survive
What are you most looking forward to?
SJ: Nice weather
AL: The camaraderie
What are you least looking forward to?
SJ: The hill just before Folkestone at the end of the first day
AL: The saddle soreness
First thing you’ll do when you cross the finish line?
SJ: See my wife and the other supporters
AL: Drink champagne
SJ: Unwrap and chop up your energy bars before you go so they are easy to eat while riding
AL: Ride steady
If you would like to arrange a meeting, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org