Every Day In May

The ElliptiGo Every Day In May (EDIM) challenge is for ElliptiGo riders worldwide to sign up and commit to riding their Go’s either 5,10 or 20 miles every day in May.

“I’m just not going to be able to do that” was my first reaction to the EDIM challenge.

I was away in Norway for starters, then with work commitments all over the UK when I got back it just wouldn’t be possible to do what was required.

It soon became clear that perhaps I could do it though.  The clever team at ElliptiGo were making this challenge as possible as they could by allowing 3 days where you can miss riding and 3 days where you can choose another form of aerobic training.  With 6 days to play with (20% of the month) I came round to thinking maybe I could do it.  Yes it would require some planning, early mornings, travelling with my ElliptiGo and some effort but actually I decided this was totally do-able.

I filled out the EDIM form on the ElliptiGo website sitting in a hotel room on 30th April at 11.30pm at night and I set my alarm for the early the next morning.  I didn’t have my ElliptiGo with me in Norway so I would get up and use an alternative training day pass.

I was staying in Alesund and was at the end of a ski tour trip.  There is a peak over the town that has the most incredible views, I had intended to go up there when I arrived the previous week, but the early departure meant I hadn’t been able to.  I had time in Alesund on my return, but I had blisters on my feet so had decided I wouldn’t do the run up to the view point.  Things had changed now though.  I had committed to the EDIM challenge, I had to do a run, I would strap my blisters and get on with it!

This view was my reward and I was so pleased I did it.

View over Alesund
View over Alesund

The following day I was still in Norway and without my ElliptiGo, I was flying back to the UK later in the day, my feet were too sore to run again, I was tired and had lots of reasons why today I could rest and do nothing.   But now I was signed up to the EDIM challenge and I was committed so when I passed a kayak rental shop I decided that would be a pretty cool alternative aerobic training – a paddle around the coastline.

It was fantastic.

Kayak in Alesund
Kayak in Alesund

Back in the UK and back to my EllitpiGo I was enjoying having to do the distance everyday.

Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride
Amazing rainbow during an EDIM Ride

Whatever the weather I had to Go out, so even on rainy, miserable days I completed the miles and not once did I think, I wish I hadn’t of done that!  Every ride I did left me feeling good.

My rides have been varied; I’ve used them to deliver chunks of Toblerone (See Toblerone blog), I have visited Helen and Nick (who set have set up ElliptiGo rental at Draycote Water in Rugby) to do a ride together and I have enjoyed breaking my own speed record on a short circuit I have been doing for a while!

Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015
Suunto Movescount Summary May 2015

Today is the 1st June and I’ve completed the EDIM challenge.  I realised that there were several days when I would have definitely not done the ride had I not made the commitment to the EDIM challenge.  Making a commitment to yourself quietly might work but actually making the commitment to other people, out loud – verbally or by writing it down – makes a HUGE difference.

It’s a simple process > Decide to do it > Commit to doing it > Do it!

It’s so effective that I’ve decided to do another challenge this month – it’s called Every Day In June!  It’s a bit different, with a few friends we’ve committed to eating clean for a month, which means NO SUGAR.

If anyone else wants to join us – you can… You can start on June 2nd!  All you need to do is tell me or tell someone, making the commitment out loud makes a huge difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

What an amazing year 2013 has been and 2014 is set to be another incredible one!

Looking back over the past 12 months it’s been quite a year…

Things kicked off in January with Wings of Kilimanjaro, where I was proud to be part of the largest group ever to climb to the summit of the mountain and in the process raise over half a million dollars for three charities making a difference on the ground in Tanzania; The One Foundation, Plant with Purpose and WorldServe International.

I was only back in the UK for a few weeks before beginning The Go Trek with Dave Cornthwaite – a 3074mile, two month journey around Europe by ElliptiGo.  Not only did I get into the best shape physically that I’ve ever been in, I was delighted to get to know the inspirational team at Coppafeel – the fab boob charity we raised over £3000 for – and also to meet so many generous, kind and lovely people along the way.

On my return to the UK I enjoyed being back on two wheels, but this time with an engine and I had a blast taking my BMW F800GS out to the Aosta Valley in Italy where I climbed Monte Rosa.

Before returning back to the UK I rode to Aix Les Bains in France where I took part in the ElliptiGo European Championships.  A great event and brilliant to get to know more of the ElliptiGo community.

In September I was excited to meet up with Ranulph Finnes, Kenton Cool and the Powertraveller Team at The Royal Geographical Society where we were working on a project for the new Powertravller product (due to be released in early 2014).

October and November saw the confirmation of a plan that has been bubbling away in the back ground for a while now.  I took a trip to the States to get to work on pre production and training for a new adventure travel series that I will be filming in 2014 with an amazing team!  The biggest surprise of that trip was learning to BASEJump!!

The year concluded with a trip to South Africa, I was in the sunshine for Christmas and while I was there I took the opportunity to climb Table Mountain.

Even in this quick round up of the year its easy to see that I’ve been able to do some wonderful things in incredible places and raise money for very good causes.

I’m so lucky to have the support of my friends and family, I’ve met some great people in 2013 and I’m proud to work with the teams and companies that I do; PowertravellerRab, BMW, GoPro, Salomon, Suunto, Aosta Valley, Peli & Zaini.

It’s the people in my life and the people who I meet that make all the difference.  Thank you all for your support, encouragement and love.

I hope that 2014 is a wonderful year for everyone …. and don’t forget if you’re knickers are right, then everything goes right!

See you in 2014, Squash! xx

 

The ElliptiGo European Championships, Aix Les Bains, France

When I finished The Go Trek in July there were whisperings about me entering the first official European ElliptiGo race.  Honestly, I was a little tired and thought ….no!

Then after a good rest, a sign (!) and realising that I would be in the area (well nearby, I was climbing Monte Rosa in Aosta two days before the race) I thought that maybe I could enter.  After all it would be brilliant to see everyone and with 3074 ElliptiGo miles under my belt I was sure to be able to at least have a good Go!

The 'sign' to Go...  Literally!
The ‘sign’ to Go… Literally!

Five rides out on the ElliptiGo and climbing a 4,500m peak between The Go Trek (which finished July 6th) and the race (Sept 1st) was my training program.  Well, less training program, more just what I’d done.

I arrived in Aix Les Bains the night before the race and had a lovely evening catching up with people and meeting other ElliptiGo’ers who were out for the race too.  I was nervous, I’ve done plenty of endurance-based activity but racing isn’t something I have a lot of experience in.  I needed a plan!

The race, I discovered was a 21km route up, that’s up, a mountain, Mont Revard  1,562m.

I have a Suunto watch with a heart rate monitor and decided that I could use that as a guide, if I worked at 70-80% of my maximum heart rate, hopefully I could sustain that effort and therefore pace for the time it would take to get to the top.  I had to keep my heart rate below 170bpm.  The question was, would I be working too hard and burn out too soon?

I was worried, I thought I hadn’t done enough specific race training and had pretty much convinced myself I wouldn’t do well before the race had even begun.  This was clearly the wrong attitude!

I had a word with myself the morning of the race and decided to sort that out, I told myself I could do well and that I should give it 100%.  I muscled my way to front of the pack at the start of the race, the gun went off and so did I!  I was in the leading half of the pack.  My heart rate shot up straight above 170bpm…

Waiting at the start line... nervous.
Waiting at the start line… nervous.

I knew I had to address that quickly; I had to slow my pace, however, I was battling with two guys to hold my place.  One got ahead but the other didn’t and I knew that psychologically this was important, I thought if I could stay ahead of this one guy and start to pull away I would get away.  It took a while but I managed to lose him… Then I had my sights set on the one who’d overtaken earlier.  He was now well in the distance but I was after him!

I got my heart rate to 168bpm and found a rhythm; I calculated how long each kilometer was taking me and worked out that if I maintained my speed I could finish in 2hours.  I was half way…

I had two goals; to catch the guy in front and over take him and to finish in less than 2hrs!

Just over half way...
Just over half way…

My mind visited some interesting places during that second half, I just needed to keep turning my legs and keep Go’ing, pushing hard all the time.  With 2km to go I was right on the tail of the guy who’d overtaken me and slowly, slowly I got closer and closer until I got past!  Then I went for it and made the finish in 1hr 58mins.

Suunto Stats ElliptiGO European Champs 01.09.13
Suunto Stats ElliptiGO European Champs 01.09.13

I was the 1st woman to finish and 10th overall.  It had been a very tough race and I was happy it was done…

…I was also very excited about my work of art trophy!!

Here’s a short Punkt video I made at the end of the race.

Big thanks to Eric Bouvier who organised the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People, motorbikes, climbing and flying…

One of the things I absolutely love to do is combine my passions into one big adventure.

So I’m about to do just that!

Over the next few days I’ll be making my way to the Aosta Valley in Italy on my BMW F800GS, staying with friends on the way and then climbing Monte Rosa when I arrive.

For a few years I’ve wanted to climb Monte Rosa, the “Pink Mountain”.  Sitting on the boarder of Italy and Switzerland, at 4,634m it’s the highest mountain in Switzerland and the second-highest in both the Alps and western Europe.

Monte Rosa
Monte Rosa

It’s also home to the highest construction in Europe – The Regina Margherita Hut –  located at 4,559 metres, not only is the hut a refuge for climbers but it serves as an observatory and research centre as well.  The plan is to spend a night there before our summit push.

The Margarita Hut
The Margarita Hut

I’m going to take my paraglider with me and will aim to do some flying while I’m in the area too.

After the climb, I’ll make my way to Aix Les Bains, because it has worked out that just a day after I’ll be down from the mountain I will be able to attend the first ElliptiGo European Championships!  I’ll probably be quite tired… but I’m excited to be involved in the event and to see my fellow ElliptiGo’ers!

This trip has been finalised in the last week; I’ve only just booked my Chanel crossing (with hours to go) and I’m not completely sure of the route I’ll take to Aosta.  Sometimes though you just have to seize opportunities and Go for it!  

It’ll be a two week adventure combining some of my favourite things; people, motorbikes, climbing, flying and ElliptiGo’ing!

As always I like to get behind a good cause when I take on a new challenge so I’ve set up a just giving page in support of Coppafeel, a breast cancer awareness charity.

I’m aiming to raise £185.50 as Monte Rosa was first climbed in 1855.

If you’d like to support this next effort here’s a link to the page

Squash’s JustGiving page for Coppafeel

Go on 'Coppafeel!
Go on ‘Coppafeel!

Thank you! xx

 

 

 

 

The Go Trek – Final Week

I began the final week after a two day break with my sister and friends, which was wonderful, physically and mentally.  I refuelled, recharged and felt good and mostly I was thinking, “I can’t believe in just a few days I’ll be in Paris at the end of The Go Trek!”.

Monday was an easy day (or so I thought) I had just 20miles to ride to reach Craponne – haha it’s funny every time I say or write it!

It was very hot though and as I got Go’ing my legs soon felt empty and I became quite worried.  I still had over 300miles to go – I couldn’t get tired now.

There was a group of riders and a police escort waiting for me as I entered the town, it was lovely to see and be with more people – and a police escort is always fun!  Together we rode a few km’s into the centre where the Mayor was waiting with a crowd of locals.  He was such a nice guy, he did a very warm and amusing speech but also had taken time to read up about breast cancer and spoke about the work of Coppafeel.  There was a collection and over £80 was raised for the charity, thank you to all who donated.

That evening Leo, a fellow ElliptiGo’er who had joined the group ride, and his wife Gisele asked me to join them for dinner.  They also invited other friends and we had a lovely evening outside in their garden eating delicious food, which I was very grateful for, knowing I needed to fuel up for the next days push.  It’s evenings like this that I have treasured during the trip – meeting new people who are so generous and kind, sharing stories and enjoying their company.

Dinner party with new friends
Dinner party with new friends

I set off early the next day, it was already 25’c and I was nervous that having felt so tired doing just 20miles the day before I would really struggle.  I left Craponne grabbing this shot and smiled to myself – a great time was had by all in Craponne!!

Craponne!
Craponne!

To my surprise and sheer delight the lovely meal Leo and Gisele had made me the night before had done the trick, I felt like I had rocket fuel in my legs and was making the fastest pace I had made during the entire trek.

By 6pm that evening I had covered 91miles and stopped at a supermarket to grab a pint of fresh milk before it closed.  As the staff locked the doors behind me I was working out that I could have another 100mile day done within the hour.  The milk tasted so good!  I felt great and I set of down a hill and I was actually beaming as the wind rushed past my face and everything felt so good….

….Moments later there was a bang and I rapidly came to a halt!  My back tyre had burst.  To be fair to the tyre it had done almost 3000miles with a heavy trailer being towed behind it.  I stood still and looked around.  The last town was 20km away, the supermarket was closed and there was nothing around.  I pushed Deloris and Hank (the trailer!) back towards the supermarket and across the road about 150m away there was a shed type building surrounded by old cars.  The shed had a sign above it.

“SOS Mechanic Garage”.

The sign said SOS.  I headed over there.

There was a guy working underneath a car bonnet.  He didn’t speak English, so in my best French I tired to explain what had happened and that I needed help to locate a new tyre and fix the problem.  The guy looked at me and said “Nope” before walking off shaking his head.  I just stood there… before long he returned with another French guy, Frederic, who also shook his head.  Frederic took his phone out and began speaking French, very fast French, but I worked out he was talking to a bike shop.  Soon in the SOS van we were speeding back towards the last town I had past and we went to three bike shops – who Frederic had called ahead to stay open (it was now 7pm) and finally we found a tyre.  It was slightly big but with no other options Frederic nodded and said he’d try and make it fit!

Back at the garage it was just minutes and Deloris had a new tyre on, a tightened chain and adjusted brakes.  Just two hours after the blow out I was back in business!  I couldn’t quite believe my luck.

Fred asked where I would stay.  I said I’d look for somewhere to camp and he kindly said I could stay in the field by the garage.  Literally as he said it the heavens opened and  thunder cracked.  Frederic then said, “you can sleep in the garage, there is a shower, a kitchen and a sofa you can sleep on”.

Turns out Frederic’s son lived in the flat attached.  He was lovely and didn’t mind having an unexpected guest for the night.

I didn’t manage the 100miles but I’d had a remarkable day and I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

Frederic arrived in the morning at 7am with five pain au chocolates for me for breakfast!

Who’d have thought a tyre blowing out could result in so many good things?  In a way I’m glad it happened!  Thank goodness for Frederic – thank you for rescuing me!!

Frederic - my hero!
Frederic – my hero!

Two days and roughly 200miles until Paris were left.  There’s something about having the finish in sight that gives you an extra spark and although it rained in my face for most of the day I had fun – click here to see Punkt video I made mid morning!

And I also did 103 miles!  It was 8pm and I was tired when I hit the 100 mile mark.  A good friend back in the UK had transferred some money to my bank account when he heard I would be alone for the final part of the trek with a message that said, treat yourself to a hotel one night.  This was the night!  (Thank you AL!)  There was a Formula One hotel in sight and with a 31 euro price tag I was very happy to be there.

I was up early, today was the day I would hit the 3000mile mark!  I had 66miles to go and  just South of Paris I would reach the magic number.  I felt really good.  I was quite emotional too.  There had been times during the trek that I had doubted if I’d be able to do that mileage.  For me, the goal had always been 3000miles for £3000 for Coppafeel.  That had been my motivation and reason to keep GO’ing when things had got tough.

Reaching 3000 miles!
Reaching 3000 miles!

Here’s the moment I reached the distance – it was not on a special road or in a special place and I was on my own…. but the sun was shining and it was wonderful!

Reaching 3000miles!

As I came into Paris I saw the Eiffel tower in the distance – 68days ago it had seemed forever away and I was finally approaching!

The Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower!

The last leg of The Go Trek was a ride from Versailles in to Paris, with a group of people including french journalists, photographers and video crew.

I was happy to see everyone, I didn’t know most of them, but soon I would.

As we arranged the ElliptiGo’s for photographs in front of the spectacular palace in Versailles I started seeing things.. I saw some Go’s riding towards me with some familiar faces on them.. but it could’t be?!?!?!  IT WAS!!!

Back at the start of the trek we had been joined by several riders from the Milton Keynes ElliptiGo club for the London leg and now before my very eyes I was seeing them again.  Jules, Gerrad, Antony and Pauly were coming towards me!  Words really won’t do justice for how this moment felt.  It was so special that they came and would be the most fitting and perfect end to this incredible journey.  I was beyond delighted to be able to share the final miles of the Go Trek with them.  They had driven over to Paris the day before to be with me at the end and it meant so much.  Thank you all…  What you did was amazing and I loved it!  It really did make all the difference.

The Go Gang!  (Love these guys!)
The Go Gang! (Love these guys!)

The final few miles were just brilliant.  Together with a group of over 12 other ElliptiGo’ers we tore up the streets of Paris!  We rode around the arch de triumph (twice), down the Champs Elysees and finally reached the Eiffel Tower, where Chris Price and his family were waiting to say hello too!  We’d met Chris at Cyclopark in the UK.  His daughters had a gift for me – some knickers with Mickey Mouse on them!  Wonderful!

We enjoyed a picnic by the Eiffel Tower to celebrate – it was perfect.

D’Andrea was there in Paris for the final few days.  D is the International Sales Directer at ElliptiGo, she has worked tirelessly in the background before and during the trek with planning, preparation and support.  So often during a project there are people in a team who’s work and input is completely vital and key to things working yet they are the unsung heroes.  So to all of you behind the scenes – D’Andrea, everyone at ElliptiGo, Chris Diplock, our parents, friends, new friends, kit sponsors, supporters, donators and all those who played a part in The Go Trek, thank you… from the bottom of my heart… thank you.

The end!
The end!

A new world record – 3074miles completed and now over £3000 for Coppafeel raised!!

 

The story of how The Go Trek happened is simple, short and lovely!

Dave Cornthwaite saw an ElliptiGo in America, he came up with a plan to do a journey of over 1000miles on one, D’Andrea and the ElliptiGo team said Yes to supporting the project, I said Yes to joining in… 3000 miles were covered, a new world record was set and over £3000 has been raised for Coppafeel.  Together WE did it!

The End…

The Eiffel Tower - The end of The Go Trek!
The Eiffel Tower – The end of The Go Trek!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategy – how I keep Go’ing

I have been surprised by how many of the skills that I have learnt and called upon to climb big mountains – I’ve also been able to apply to The Go Trek.

This trip will total almost 70days when I my journey ends on Friday and that’s the longest expedition that I have completed – even longer than my Everest trip!

Kit wise; my Rab sleeping bag (my comfort blanket!), my Peli head torch & my Powertraveller solar chargers all remind me of days in the mountains but I wasn’t expecting to find so many other similarities as I’ve ElliptiGo’ed through Europe.  After all I’ve not been remote, out of touch or without the comfort of regular showers and I’ve even enjoyed the luxury of a proper bed for some nights of the trip!

However, endurance is endurance and as the weeks have gone by and as with other expeditions, I’ve really had to keep focused mentally and very importantly look after my physical well-being.

It has been calculated that an ElliptiGo is 30% more effort to ride than a regular bicycle, add a trailer of 20-30kgs (depending on how much chocolate is in it!) and you have an idea of the energy needed to ride the Go.

In the first few weeks of the trip we were doing days of 20 – 70 miles and had a few rest days. It was a gentle start and allowed fitness and condition to increase. However as we came further South and reached Switzerland/France I began doing 100 mile plus days (often consecutively and in the mountains with lots of hill climbing).

As my aim has always been to hit the 3000mile target by Paris it’s meant that I’ve had to continue to cover large distances over extended and here’s how I’ve a. achieved it, and b. maintained my condition so that I can continue to do it.

  • Eating and drinking correctly. I’m keeping myself hydrated by drinking between 4 and 8 litres of water a day and I’m eating as many calories as I can take on board and eating every hour to avoid energy crashes. I stick to the same tried and tested routine that I use in the mountains – for me, the key is to eat before I feel hungry and drink before I feel thirsty.
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours a night. It might not sound a lot, but as long as I get this as a minimum I’m ok. I also find I sleep very deeply when I’m exercising to this degree and the quality of sleep I’m getting is good.
  • Working no harder than 70-80% of my full capacity. I’m using a slower pace to ensure that I can keep going and don’t burn out and I use my Suunto heart rate monitor to help me to do this.
  • Planning and taking rest days. When I was in Nice at the Ironman I met Bobby Julich (competitor in 2005/06 tour de France and now trainer for the top riders in the tour). We discussed tactics and Bobby said to me, “When you ride – ride hard and when you rest – rest hard”.

With that in mind I pushed hard last week so that I could have two days complete rest days.

I now I have just four more days Go’ing and I know that these will be long, hard days. But, if I continue to drink, eat and sleep well and maintain a steady pace….and if I keep this in mind (see below) then I’ll arrive in Paris having completed an amazing 3000miles!!

Anything is possible! .... Certainly trying anything is possible!
Anything is possible! …. Certainly trying anything is possible!

 

 

 

 

 

The Go Trek – Week Eight

Finishing last week after three 100mile days (an ElliptiGo hat trick!) meant that I welcomed a few days in Nice.  Although I had miles to cover, the time there meant that I had a couple of days of almost complete rest.

The cote d’azur is as glorious as it’s name suggests.

Gorgeous blue water - Nice, France.
Gorgeous blue water – Nice, France.

Jean-louis, inventor of the famous O Symetric ring, that Bradley Wiggins won the last tour de France with, is also the ElliptiGo distributor in the Cote d’azur.  Last Friday night was the grand opening of Jean-louis ElliptiGo showroom.  It was a great night and we met some very impressive athletes – French runner Marc Raquil and Belgium Ironman champion Frederic Vanlierde!

Dave and I with Marc Raquil & Frederic Vanlierde
Dave and I with Marc Raquil & Frederic Vanlierde

Frederic was in Nice for the Ironman that would be happening that weekend.  I was privileged to be invited to be the pacer for the leader of the marathon stage (the final part of the Ironman after the swim and run) on my ElliptiGo.  Frederic was favourite to win and we got the chance to chat about what he would need me to do if indeed he came through as the leader – my task was to clear the path in front and also act as a pacer for him.

Discussing tactics with Frederic Vanlierde
Discussing tactics with Frederic Vanlierde

I didn’t quite realise just what a big deal the Nice Ironman was and I was delighted to be a part of such an impressive event and help lead Fred all the way to his victory!

On the ElliptiGo with Frederic Vanlierde leading the marathon stage of the Nice Ironman - shortly before he won!
On the ElliptiGo with Frederic Vanlierde leading the marathon stage of the Nice Ironman – shortly before he won!

Bobby Julich (tour de france 05/06) was pacing the Woman leader – it was very cool getting to meet him too!

With Bobby Julich
With Bobby Julich

While I was in Nice I took the opportunity to enjoy the coastline and headed out early one morning to Italy, via Monaco!

Nipped over the boarder to Italy!
Nipped over the boarder to Italy!

I had said goodbye to Dave at the opening of the new ElliptiGo showroom, that was our final GoTrek event together before he headed back to the UK.  His departure didn’t really hit me until I left Nice though and set out before sunrise to continue to St Tropez.  It was an amazing morning but I was on my own and that felt very strange.

Being on my own didn’t last long!  After 20miles I was in Cannes and met with some fellow ElliptiGo’ers who would be joining me for the days ride.  It was great to be Go’ing in a group and the coastline was stunning.

We arrived at the Pan Dei Palais in St Tropez where we were greeted with a delicious lunch (thanks to Eric and Melanie for arranging).  I was also invited to stay the night at the hotel which was a real treat!

I was glad of the comfort that night because I had a very early start the next day, 4.45am… and I was on a mission!  I had friends who were in Avignon for the night as they travelled South on their holiday and I wanted to see them.  Looking at the map it didn’t look too far away (just a few centimetres!) however it was 129miles away.

It was a HUGE day but I did it… by 7.30pm that evening I was with Pippa and Nick in the Old Town of Avignon at ‘The Popes New Castle’!  We had a lovely evening together.  I was so happy to see them.

The following morning I departed Avignon after randomly bumping into some friends from the UK!  Incredible coincidence that they spotted the ElliptiGo as they drove past!

Randomly bumping into Ian and his wife!
Randomly bumping into Ian and his wife!

I set off into some serious headwind.  I’ve since learned it’s the famous mistral wind – it was horrendous.  I moved slowly… all day.  Freewheeling downhill which usually yields 20+mph only gave me 5mph.  Mentally it was one of the toughest days of the trip, but by the end of the day I’d still covered over 70miles and so I was tired but pleased with the distance covered considering the conditions.

I found a great place to camp just off the road, I was completely hidden in long grass and next to a very grand house.  I knocked to see if anyone was in, but there was no reply.  I took advantage of the outdoor sink at the house and had a quick bath before bed!  Camping alone makes me a little nervous but I was so hidden I felt really safe and I was so tired I was asleep within minutes!

My motivation to get up and ride the remaining 80miles to Lyon was big – my sister would be there to meet me and I had two rest days ahead!  The wind wasn’t as bad but more importantly and more surprisingly, although tired, my body was still ready to Go.  It has been an almighty push this week.  A 74 mile day to start, followed by a record 129 mile day, straight into a tough long day of 71miles into a strong headwind and I had an 80mile day infront of me!  Not forgetting this was after two months of pretty much non stop ElliptiGo’ing.

Even writing this myself I find it hard to believe – it’s 100% testiment to what a wonderful machine the ElliptiGo is.  Naturally I’m tired but my body is in great condition.  I’m simply getting fitter and stronger and I’m not hurting anywhere.  I have never experienced this with any other kind of endurance exercise.

Last night I met my sister, Jo – It’s been a long week, saying goodbye to Dave at the start of it was not nice, but finishing it with Jo was great.

I’ve met some wonderful people and had so much support since going solo that I don’t feel solo at all.  Thank you everyone!

My sister, Jo!
My sister, Jo!

Just this past week we’ve received even more generous donations to Coppafeel – thank you all.  Total raised is over £2000 now and I’d dearly like to reach the £3000 target.  Next week I’m going to dig deep and am aiming to reach the 3000mile goal by Friday!

Please donate by clicking here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Go Trek – Week Seven

I started the week on a high – literally!  My friends Kath and Mark asked me if I would do the Col De L’lseran  with them.  The Col is 2,770m and is the highest paved mountain pass in the Alps.  Mark said, “I have a spare bike”, to which I quickly replied, “It’s ok, I can definitely do it on the ElliptiGo”.

The ElliptiGo has gears, there are three models (11,8 &3 speed) and Dave and I are travelling on the 8 geared Go’s.  Hills, even 10% plus are not a problem, the lowest gear allows you to go really slowly and make your way up.

I didn’t take my trailer with me and having towed it around behind for so many weeks not having it made a huge difference to my speed!  I hardly had to use my lower three gears.  It was a wonderful day, spectacular views in the mountains and the ride down was exhilarating.

The next three days were rest days.  It felt strange not being on the ElliptiGo for so long!

Last saturday Dave and I met up again in Aix les Bains.  Eric, the ElliptiGo dealer there had organised an event.  It was brilliant!  The sun shone and we had the largest ElliptiGo group ride yet on the trek.

Here’s a Punkt video riding along the edge of Aix Les Bains lake.

During the time Dave and I were apart Dave hurt his back going down some stairs.  He was still able to ride the ElliptiGo and we adjusted our route slightly as we headed South so that we could avoid some of the hills.

It was good to be riding together again and after our event in Aix Les Bains we covered 72miles and camped out for the night.

Happy to be at the top of long climb...
Happy to be at the top of long climb…

The next day the weather was glorious and that also meant it was incredibly hot!  By mid morning I think we had both got through about 3litres of water and then had to take on the Col de la Croix Haute (1,179m).  Dave reached the top before I did and was waiting with a smile on his face having made it and stuck a tiny “Say Yes More” sticker on the sign.

At the top of the Col!
At the top of the Col!

We arrived in Sisteron early evening and rewarded ourselves with pizza!  Sisteron is gorgeous and the castle that is built above the town is very impressive and worth a visit.

Both feeling recharged after dinner we decided to carry on that evening and try and find somewhere by the river to camp.  We covered another 10miles and it was beginning to get dark.  We looked at some woodland to camp in and just opposite there was a house, with someone looking at us through the open window ….so thought I’d go and speak to the owners.  Sarah came to the gate and within a couple of minutes we were being invited to camp in their garden and take a shower!  The owners, Sarah and Vincent and their two sons (Leo and Tom) made us so welcome and it was so good to have a shower!!!

Gorgeous family!
Gorgeous family!

In the morning we all had breakfast together and Vincent generously gave me some of his homemade fruit jam in a small jar – the ideal size for popping in my trailer!  We said goodbye to our new friends and I hoped I would see them again soon.

Dave’s back was not improving and after some discussion we made the decision to ride apart for a few days until Nice.  It’s never my first choice to separate from a team mate.  But it was important to Dave that he could go at his own pace and take care of his back and also at this stage in the trek if the 3000mile mark was to be hit it required longer days and more miles.  So for the second time we were saying goodbye.

Honestly, it didn’t feel great.  I didn’t really have a plan but what I did have was a goal to do more miles and Mark and Kath.  Mark and Kath are two of my best friends and they know the area well.  I called them and Mark soon had a list of places I must visit and by mid morning I was on my way to Gap, heading East!  I also had several people who knew exactly where I was and who could get to me within a short time.  Although I probably would be fine, travelling alone is different and this made me feel much more secure.

It was a very hot day!  I called at a supermarket and brought some essential supplies and then soaked up the incredible views.  Standing up and being about 8ft tall travelling by ElliptiGo is the ultimate way to get a perfect moving view.

I wanted to camp at Lac Serre Poncon but also had time to do more miles so I headed towards Briancon … and then came back to the lake…  having done 104miles!

It was almost dark, I had a quick bathe in the cool water – it was bliss – and then pitched my tent.

I didn’t sleep for long and even after a 104 mile day I felt good and was ready to go bright and early the next morning.  Breakfast was a treat, a cup of tea and bread with Vincent’s home made Jam!

It was a scorching day – 38’c!!  It was also one of the most stunning days of the trek, I travelled over several Cols and made slow progress, but I knew what goes up, must come down!!  and when I reached Digne having done over 80miles I looked at the map to see if I could find somewhere to sleep at the 100mile mark, it would be a 14hr day but I felt I could do it, especially when I realised the 100mile mark would take me back to Sarah and  Vincents!!!  About 10miles from their house a car drove past and someone was screaming “Squash” and waving out of the car window!  It was Sarah and her son Tom!!  They didn’t stop as the road was busy but soon I arrived at their house and Sarah greeted me with “Tom said I hope Squash will come back and stay!”.  It was so lovely to see them and I felt at home, we ate fresh strawberries from the garden and celebrated another 100mile day!

Another century!!
Another century!!

The celebration didn’t last long, a message from Dave suggested that he would make it to Nice but probably not further.  His back wasn’t improving.  The next day I would be following the route Dave had taken – it felt good we’d be on the same path again – there was a chance I could catch up with him.

Tom was off school the next day but was up at 6.30am and showing me how to make home made Pain au Chocolat!

Tom teaching me the art of home made pain au chocolat!!
Tom teaching me the art of home made pain au chocolat!!

This family really made this week special  and I’m so glad they said “Yes” when we asked for a camp spot!  Thank you all…

The route to Nice was through the Verdon region.  There were a lot of Cols to climb but the downs were incredible – here’s a Punkt video I made to share with you – I think this is one of the most stunning places in the world!

Just before Nice I hit 100miles!!!  Three 100mile days in a row, each day 14hrs, each day stunning through beautiful France on the ElliptiGo – the machine that I can just keep GO’ing on – this was my first ElliptiGo hat trick!

I caught up with Dave soon after.  Happy to have made it through the mountains and to the most Southern point in our journey at almost 2000miles he had made a decision.  He would not be continuing the journey to Paris.

Whatever you do in life, your health should always be the priority, that said it’s not always the easiest choice to make.  This is Dave’s blog about his decision.

It feels very odd that I’ll be without Dave for the final few weeks.  I am disappointed but also understand the importance of  making the right choice at times like this.

I will be continuing the trek – but I don’t feel like this will be a solo effort.  There are so many people being incredibly supportive and I am very grateful to you all, thank you.  ElliptiGo are pulling out the stops to ensure that I have people joining me along the way and that the Go Trek will continue with the same spirit and energy.

I said “Yes” to 3000 miles and I’ll be GO’ing for the distance before I reach Paris on the 5th July.  If anyone can join me on route – I’d be delighted…

One of my biggest motivations for this challenge hasn’t changed – 3000 miles for £3000 for the charity Coppafeel  – Please, please help us to raise this amount, we’re asking for donations of £3.00, but if you’d like to give more that’s fine too!

Go and fix that back Dave!
Go and fix that back Dave!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firmer, fitter and faster!

I’ve been on the Go Trek for just over six weeks, I’ve covered 1,736 miles, had 6 rest days, participated in 1 stair race and completed three 100mile plus days!

My weight when I left was 64kgs, it is now 61.5kgs.  I’m leaner all over and I have increased muscle definition in my legs, arms, back.

My arm after six weeks on the GO
My arm after six weeks on the GO

I’m most excited about the development of the muscles on the inside of my knees – my vastus medialis muscles.  I’ve always had an awareness that one of the best ways to protect knees from injury is to develop the muscles around the knee… but never had the discipline to do specific exercises to achieve that (ie, squats!).

ElliptiGo legs - bigger Vastus Medialis Muscles!
ElliptiGo legs – bigger Vastus Medialis Muscles!

I’ve been wearing a heart rate band and over the six weeks as I’m getting fitter my average heart rate has decreased by around 10/15bpm.

Here is a link to some of my stats – Squash’s Moves – not all days ElliptiGo’ing have been recorded and some results are not accurate as the stopwatch has included time not moving – therefore my average speed/heart rate is a little distorted.. but it gives you an idea.

Unlike other expeditions I’ve done (mountain/endurance/cycling) this is the first trip I’ve been on where I haven’t lost condition – in fact I am getting stronger and fitter each week.

There have been very few rest days but each day my body is ready to go again.  Even after a 70km day I participated in a stair race and I had two consecutive 100mile plus days in Switzerland with the trailer, followed by a hilly 45mile day.

The ElliptiGo gives an all over body workout.  My concern at the start was that I would increase bulk and muscle in my thighs and bum – that hasn’t happened at all – I’ve just become leaner and more defined in these areas.

Unlike cycling, hiking and running I’ve had zero body discomfort with no blisters, sores, aches or pains and standing on the ElliptiGo for long periods of time has been comfortable.

My body is running like an efficient machine!  My digestion is great, my skin is healthy, I’m sleeping really well and I feel in excellent condition – which is remarkable considering the distance I’m going and the weight I’m towing (roughly 25kgs in trailer).

This week I met up with a friend who greeted me with this comment, “Squash I am so relieved to see you looking so well, after I saw you return home from your mountain expeditions you looked half dead and I was expecting to see you look drained and tired.  I think you look in the best condition I’ve ever seen you in!”

I love the ElliptiGo it’s been one of the most enjoyable and effective ways I’ve experienced to achieve overall fitness and well being.

High speed on the way down from the Col D'Iseran!
High speed on the way down from the Col D’Iseran!

 

The Go Trek – Week Five

I’m looking at the sky, it’s cloudy and grey BUT it’s not raining!  This week has been the wettest so far and the places we have been have made world news due to the floods!  I was told by a local that “in 50years of being in the region there has never been this much rain”…

It was however a sunny start to week five, thank goodness, because we were welcomed to the beautiful town of Germersheim by the Mayor, newspapers and television!

Click here to see our debut appearance on the news in Germany.

The day and event was organised by Hardy, owner of this incredible bike – the Pedersen.  The design is over 100yrs old!  Michael Pedersen was a danish inventor and manufctured the bike in Dursley (GB) in 1893.

A very old and very cool bike!
A very old and very cool bike!

The cycle paths in Germany are a real treat, they are well signed, in good condition and at often take you through beautiful countryside.  After time in Germersheim we took a very remote path through dense but stunning woodland to Knittelsheim Muhule – a lovely hotel off the beaten track.  Thank you to Hannes for a lovely evening and to Hardy who organised it all.

The following morning we awoke to heavy rain that lasted all day – with miles to cover we set off anyway and were so happy at 6pm when the rain stopped and we had this view!

After the rain comes the sun!
After the rain comes the sun!

We took advantage of the dry weather and covered more miles that evening and found a nice little spot to camp just outside of Beitigheim, which meant only a few miles the next day to our destination, another gorgeous German town – Affalterbach.  We had the good fortune of being invited to stay with Herman and Marlene.  They are Daryn’s parents, Daryn is the ElliptiGo distributer in Germany.  After hot showers Marlene fed us delicious home cooked food and then Daryn arrived and gave us massages – incredible massages!  You see Daryn also happens to be a physiotherapist, reflexologist and practitioner of Chinese medicine.  That saying….. feet, landing on, springs to mind!   After our service, it was time to have a look at the Go’s.  and give them some TLC too.

Here’s a little Punkt video about The ElliptiGo Service.

We had a date with the Mayor in Affalterbach, who has a great sense of humour – he gave us towels!  Daryn and Herman rode with us for a while that day.  Herman is 70.  He’s had two hip replacements and he did 50km, a distance he and Marlene regularly go on their ElliptiGo’s!

With Daryn and his Mum & Dad!
With Daryn and his Mum & Dad!

Our next stop was Basti’s house.  Basti is a friend of a friend of Daryn’s, kind of!  He’d met him once.  Anyway, when Basti was asked if we could stay he said YES!  Basti was so much fun!  Dave and I left his house both a little bit in love with him the next day.

Punkt video – This is Basti

Basti’s house was in Reichenbach, that night we had sand bags at the door and the town was on the news expected to be under water by morning!  Thankfully it wasn’t…  Just…  Another days ride in the rain with u turns several times due to flooded cycle paths and we made it to Ulm.  What a reception we had!  Live on the radio, with the television and newspapers there too the Mayor greeted us with quite a crowd in the square.

Click here to see our welcome – Dave captured the moment on Punkt!

As luck would have it we’d arrived just in time to have special entry into the annual Ulm Minster stair race.  Yes, that’s right a race!  540 steps after 1,300miles of ElliptiGo’ing!

The record time is just over three mins to the top.  The average is five mins.  I’m delighted to say we both did it in four and a half!

Leaving Ulm the next day we decided to do 90km – I mean why not, after a race?  The thinking behind this was to reach our next stop a day early so that we could then have a full rest day.  We set off feeling strong and managed a record pace!  We covered 33miles in two and a half hours.

If someone had told me that Dave and I would do hundreds, in fact thousands of miles on an ElliptiGo, then after a long day, enter a stair race, get great times and then set a record pace for a long distance on the ElliptiGo the next day I probably wouldn’t have believed them…  However, that is how we finished Week Five!  The ElliptiGo is amazing.  It’s not just a great way to travel, it’s a great way to train, to get super fit and improve condition too.

I love it!

So now back to the rain!  ….  While sun would be amazing I think to myself, “it might be wet, but compared to a bad day on a high mountain this is actually just fine”.  The ElliptiGo’s aren’t phased by the rain either and I think my face here is a good indicator of how I’m feeling!

Smiling as I ElliptiGo in the rain!
Smiling as I ElliptiGo in the rain!

Thank you to everyone who is supporting and who has donated to Coppafeel, our choosen charity for this event.  We’re now over half way to our £3000.00 goal with online and offline donations!

For more info on The Go Trek and to make a donation please click here.