Category Archives: Events

WHY I TOOK UP CYCLING: How Jamie’s battle against serious illness led him to cycling and triathlon

By Jamie Fox

Recently people have asked me “Why did you take up cycling?”
My simple answer would be “for my health”, but let me explain further.

In 2014 I was having a really bad year health wise, the worst I’ve ever had in fact. I’d been in hospital three times and been off sick for nearly a month at a time for every visit plus multiple days off because I simply couldn’t do anything.

I had caught MRSA of the lungs and another bug (the name escapes me at the moment) and just couldn’t shift it or get it under control. The Cystic Fibrosis (CF) that I was diagnosed with at six-months-old was winning.

Another big factor that year was that I was finishing Gene Therapy Trials which I now believe is the reason my lung function had held on for so long because the drugs were helping to my lungs and keep me healthy. In 2013 my lung function had been around 75-80% and gene therapy was doing a really good job, but not long after I had finished the trials I was starting to get sick a lot and my lung function was dropping like a stone and infections were feasting on my lungs like an all you can eat buffet.

By the end of 2014 I was back in hospital for the third time looking for help, looking for answers and getting frustrated with the whole situation. I needed to try to stop my health declining, in hospital I couldn’t breathe and had to be put onto oxygen.

How cycling played its part

I had never felt so ill, so scared and so down mentally let alone physically, this was all new to me. I knew everybody who has CF is different and everybody’s fight is different but this was my first time experiencing this and I was out of my depth thinking I could handle it. I didn’t cope at all, it’s most likely taken me until this year and it was committing to a cycling challenge that played an important part.

It was the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 Ride that got me started in 2015 and this year I want up my game even further to tackle an Olympic distance triathlon with the help of Ribble.

During that lowest point three years ago, I sat with the doctor and said, “Once this admission is done I’m going to go away and assess things. I’m going to prove you wrong that this isn’t going to carry on and that I can help my health and my diabetes, if there’s no more that you can do, I want a go at trying something different”. I appreciated that the doctors were trying to help but I think my mindset was that “I’m going to take things into my own hands and I feel this is something I need to do, if the drugs can’t help then let me find out if I can do something”.

But what would I try?!

I had been looking into big, physical challenges where I could maybe try and see if that helped my health. I’d thought about the London marathon but, I didn’t think I could cope with running that distance with my weak left leg. What about a shorter distance? What about walking up a mountain like Kilimanjaro? I had been wanting to go there for a while but I had to be realistic. With 50% lung function walking up a mountain with the lack of air becoming more and more apparent – I wasn’t sure. What could I do?

I could cycle? I could do that. I liked cycling and I could go as fast or as slow as I wanted and it wouldn’t put too much pressure on me (well so I thought, how wrong I was!)

SO cycling it was. It had to be something big, something I would remember forever and know that I had done it starting from nothing. It had to be something I could say to the doctors “See I did it. Two fingers to your complacency”. I was trawling the internet and came across something that caught my eye.

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

I came across this ride in simple terms its 100 miles on closed roads through beautiful London and surrey countryside taking in the sights of world famous London. I mean 100 miles is big enough for the challenge to be big, catch people’s attention and maybe few a few pennies for the CF Trust. But firstly I needed a bike.

I was fortunate enough that my partner at the time offered to buy me a bike for my birthday (thank you) in November 2014. It wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t a carbon fibre, ‘go fast’ bike, but it was mine. My bike that I hoped would pedal me to great things. I had no idea how far it would take me and what challenges I would achieve, but I loved this bike from the first day I picked it up.

Starting to ride and falling in love with cycling

I went for my first bike ride a few days later (the picture above is me after my first ride) and it shocked me. I managed a measly six miles, just six miles and I was beat exhausted and my lungs hated me, but I had the bug, I knew I wanted to do this. I fell in love with cycling straight away, Lycra isn’t a fashion statement but knowing your dressed in it sort of gives me a sense of pride because I know I want to achieve something whilst dressed in my cycling gear. Over time I put my training gear on and I know I’m doing it for a purpose, to stay fit, to show others what’s possible and to help the CF trust and hopefully the money raised with help of you lovely people has helped made a difference to others in some way no matter how small.

That day I signed up to the RideLondon-Surrey 100 with the CF Trust and the rest as they say is history.

Since January 2015 I have cycled about 7000 miles and I’ve completed:

  • RideLondon-Surrey 100 Bike Ride 2015
  • KM Bike Big Ride 50km 2016
  • London To Brighton 55 mile bike ride 2016

And I’ve managed to raise around £3,500.00 for the CF trust along the way.

Reaping the benefits

Since I started training at the end of 2014 my hospital fortunes and health have stabilised. I wouldn’t say its improved as such as my lung function hasn’t improved since 2015 but it has most certainly slowed down in its declined and stabilised at around 50 to 55% for the last two and a half years. I am the fittest I’ve ever been even with my lung function and I’m still smiling look ahead to the future and what other challenges I can take on. I won’t lie, it’s been bleeding hard there been days still when I’ve not been able to do anything and my CF has affected me even on good days, but I feel better mentally knowing I’d rather be in pain training than be in pain in hospital or coughing. All the miles, pain, tears and falls have all been worth it.

Since 2015 my hospital visits have decreased massively with two admissions in January 2015 and September 2015. And that is the last time I was admitted to hospital for IV Treatment it’s been 21 months since I had a stay in hospital. It’s not been easy I’ve pushed myself like mad, I’ve still been really sick at times and I’ve still had infections and other problems and bugs have taken their toll on me at time and I’ve swallowed a lot of tablets to fend off sickness but I haven’t had to stay in hospital.

Positive effects of training

All the training has also had a positive effect on my diabetes. I now have much lower levels which I’m still working on to improve and I’ve got it under control and by having a good diabetes control it helps my chest and reduce infections because infections feed off sugar and can turn in to a vicious cycle of problems.

And now you know why I took up cycling, that’s the long and short answer but without deciding to get on two wheels and put my feet on the pedals I have no doubt I would be in that terrible place I had feared two years ago getting more and more used to hospital beds and going insane because I just wouldn’t cope. Thanks to cycling and maybe my stubbornness to prove people wrong, I’m here talking walking and still breathing through my lungs without any further grief.

And what next in 2017?

It had to be another big challenge. I felt it had to be a triathlon, an Olympic distance to be exact. On the 24th September 2017 I’m taking part in the Hever Castle Olympic distance Triathlon to in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust:

1500m swim + 40km bike ride + 10km run

One after the other, all in one go.

Thank you Ribble

I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to Ribble Cycles, I wrote to them this year asking if they could help me at all in lending me a bike and they went above and beyond what I expected. They kindly offered to give me a new bike to help me complete this challenge and my future challenges that I want to take on. The day I visited their new shop in the Birmingham Mailbox was amazing. They are all so lovely, so supportive and couldn’t be any nicer. Their offer of support will never go unappreciated, they have inspired me to keep pushing and wanting to achieve more. Without their help I could never have got a bike like this. So thank you thank you thank you to everyone at Ribble. You are all amazing for helping me and supporting me on this journey and I will forever be in your debt.

Triathlon training commences

I started training in in about October last year nothing too serious, the odd ride, the odd run but I didn’t start swimming until January this year and that’s when I started really upping my training and thinking seriously about attempting a Triathlon. I knew this would be big. The biggest challenge I’ve ever attempted. Hardest thing I’ve ever wanted to finish and the pain and training hasn’t disappointed in challenging me and making me doubt myself that’s for sure.

Training for this has been a whole different world to just biking and it’s getting harder every day. I’m swimming twice a week running twice a week and cycling twice a week plus doing short exercise at home. And not small distances either. I’m now swimming two to three miles every week, cycling 50 miles per week and running about 10km a week at present, I know that may not sound like a lot but I’m still learning still improving and still increasing my distances.

First a Sprint Triathlon

And so far I have managed to complete a sprint Triathlon in April as a practice run but that is nothing compared to the big one and I learnt a lot from that, mostly how hard and painful it is and that was only 250m swim 10 mile bike ride and 3 mile run. That is nothing compared to what I want to attempt.

I now have approximately a dozen weeks to keep training improving and hopefully dodging hospital until the big day. It’s already tough but I’ll write again soon about training progress.

What’s pushing me through this training is my health, my stubbornness and wanting to raise awareness and funds for the CF Trust. This is what inspires me to keep pushing.

Support Jamie

You can support Jamie in his fund raising for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust by visiting his Just Giving page JamieFoxCFChallenges and keep updated via his Facebook page Jamie’s CF Challenges for Charity.


These guys deserve a huge thank you for everything they have done for me and I hope to be able to return their generosity one day.

GUIDE: The Crossing – A Multi-day Fuelling Plan

When taking on multistage events, your nutrition and fuelling plan becomes even more important. For a one day event you may be able to just ‘wing it’ but when riding back to back, a bad day on the nutrition front can seriously catch up with you the next day. When taking on such a challenging event, preparation is key.

Studying the event information is always a must before getting to start line. The Crossing, for instance, is three days of off-road fun. The days are long and lumpy and to be able to keep going, paying attention to your nutrition before, during and after is going to be very important if you want to see the finish line in Scarborough and get that well-earned ice cream

To get the best understanding of the diet needed to succeed, Ribble Cycles spoke to Annie Simpson, an expert nutritionist from OTE Sports, to find out what is needed to take on this feat.

Before the event

Your start each day can take place from 7am. Nutritionist Annie Simpson would strongly advise not skipping breakfast despite the early start. Having a meal three hours before you start exercising is the ideal, but in this case it just won’t be practical. Annie advises having breakfast at 6am at the latest as this will allow it time to settle before you set off. Something like a big bowl of porridge is ideal as it is high in slow release carbohydrates to fuel the first part of your day.

1

Fuelling during the event

Each day on The Crossing you will have one pit stop during the day to top up those energy supplies.

Simpson explains that there will be a whole host of snacks and drinks on offer, but having extra food with you is going to be important too. “Did you know that when cycling our body tends to use our carbohydrate supplies, especially when the going is tough. The only problem with this is out supplies are limited, so if we want to be able to keep to a good pace and not ‘hit the wall’ we need to make sure we keep replenishing these carbohydrates stores.”

“How you do this is up to you. Whether it is a banana, an OTE Anytime Flapjack Bar or an OTE Energy Drink, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as you are giving your body the energy it needs” she adds.

Annie confirms that you need to take on board 60g of carbohydrates per hour of moderate to intense riding. Here are Annie’s ideas of what 60g of carbohydrates could look like:

“Work out how long you expect to be riding for and make sure you are carrying the means to get through this or at least have some money to stop and refuel with. Remember you will have your Pit Stop to help and there are also unmanned water stations along the way to top-up your bottle.”

Annie stresses the importance of not neglecting hydration. “Did you know: As little as a 2% loss in body weight through sweating has been shown to reduce performance, so don’t compromise your training by forgetting to drink.

“Approximately 500ml per hour should be sufficient or try and stay just ahead of the feeling of thirst. Using products such as OTE energy drink makes for a much more palatable, lighter on the stomach and enjoyable drink, whilst providing carbohydrates and electrolytes too. Dehydration can not only lead to loss of performance but concentration too, and for 3 days of off road riding, concentration is going to be important for riding safe.”

After the event

Simpson stresses that when riding back to back days, nutrition for recovery or re-fuelling is very important.

“As soon as you finish riding each day, don’t switch off, think recovery! Within 30 minutes of finishing exercising the best way to kick start recovery is to consume a recovery drink. This supplies protein to help with muscle soreness, carbohydrates to replenish the fuel stores you have used and fluid to help you get back on top of hydration. Then resume your usual meal pattern as soon as possible. Each meal needs to be high in carbohydrate (aim for around 50% of your plate) and have a portion of protein if you really want to maximise your recovery.”

Annie continues: “Try having a high protein snack before you go to bed, something like an OTE Protein Bar would be great. This can help with reducing muscle soreness overnight and getting you ready for the next day.

“Then it is just a case of repeating this for three days, until you reach the finish line. Start your preparation and planning now to make sure you get the most out of yourself during The Crossing.”

Good luck in your next challenge!

Team Astana and Limar at the Giro d’Italia

Limar provide helmets to the Astana professional cycling team who during May competed in the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia. The team use Limar Ultralight+ helmets and also have the option of 007 Superlight Aero helmets (below) for time trial stages. Feedback from the world’s top cyclists help Limar develop and improve their innovative helmets.

Limar 007 Aero

Stage ten of the Giro was the first of two individual time trials and Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez impressed taking fourth place wearing the 007 Superlight Aero which helped him average 46kph (28.59 mph) for the 40km stage.

The eventful queen stage of the Giro was stage 16 (Rovetta to Bormio) featuring a double ascent of the Stelvio. Early in the stage the famous Passo del Mortirolo had been named as the “Cima Scarponi” and it was Sanchez who crossed the summit first and moved into second place in the King of the Mountains classification.

Giro Limar

Respecting Scarponi

Team Astana’s Giro d’Italia was tinged with sadness after the team tragically lost their colourful road captain Michele Scarponi, who was set to lead the team, in a road traffic accident two weeks before the tour started. Astana raced with eight riders and as a mark of respect to Scarponi, they did not name a ninth rider replacement for him.

After winning the “Cima Scarponi”, Luis Leon Sanchez said, “I’m honored to receive this special prize in honour of a team mate, a friend and a great person. I took to the podium but I think it is well deserved by the entire team. Each one of us gave 100% and more to honour Michele.”

Astana Giro team

The Astana team fought hard throughout the three-week Giro to honour Michele Scarponi and for the young, promising Kazakh rider Zhandos Bizhigitov, in his first Grand Tour, it was extremely hard.

Zhandos finished the queen stage a long time after the winner having raced for over 7 hours: “I’m destroyed, really, really tired!” said the Kazakh. “At the moment I’m just focused on rest and recovery, but it has been an important experience for my future. I’m happy that Luis Leon was able to win the award on the Scarponi climb, it is a very good thing for our team,” he concluded.

Sanchez was perhaps Astana’s stand out rider in the Giro – alongside Dario Cataldo – and for much of the three-week race he was in second place in the Mountains classification, but unfortunately couldn’t catch Sky’s Mikel Landa.

Giro2

Countdown to the Tour de France

Astana, led by Oscar Gatto, also joined Limar’s other professional team Direct Energie racing at the Tour of Belgium. Direct Energie’s Bryan Coquard won the opening stage sprint wearing an Ultralight+ helmet (below) whilst Sylvain Chavanel narrowly missed out on winning the individual time trial using the 007 Superlight Aero helmet.

Both teams now start their final preparation races ahead of the Tour de France in July. Astana are hoping that their Grand Tour leader Fabio Aru is fully recovered from the injury, which prevented him from racing the Giro, and he can challenge for the top honours in Le Tour alongside team mate Jakob Fuglsang. The countdown begins!

Limar DE Ultralight

Limar Helmets

Bike to work, get fitter and make a difference with Strava

Now that more summery weather is here there are definitely a few more bikes parked in the Ribble bike shed every morning. Do you cycle to work? If you’ve not contemplated cycling to work it really is a great way to start the day, improve your fitness or maintain some base training miles. You can even see how your fitness is progressing if you record and upload your ride to a social website like Strava to compare your riding with friends.

Route Builder

Tips for your cycle to work

  • Research your route beforehand as the shortest distance is not always the fastest or most pleasant. You can plan routes in the Strava Route Builder (above) or websites like Garmin Connect, Ride with GPS or Plotaroute and route profiles will tell you how climbing there is.
  • Consider having a dedicated commuting bike which you can equip for daily duties. It saves wear and tear on your best bike and you can fit mudguards and lights.
  • Variety makes your commute more interesting so try a few different route variations. Ask any cycling colleagues for route advice as they may know some great, less obvious roads or cut-throughs.

Join us on Strava Global Bike to Work Day

Why not join us in making our cycle commutes count on Thursday 11th May by joining the Strava Global Bike to Work Day. Not only will we all be offsetting tons of greenhouse emissions by being pedal powered but our (anonymous) commuting data will be shared with planners worldwide to help improve cycling infrastructure.

All you need to do is make and record a point-to-point cycle journey during Thursday and upload it to Strava as a commute. You will be part of a global event and contribute to a better cycling future.

Here’s how to play your part and join the Strava community

The hashtag #CommutesCount can also be used on other social media channels in support of a better future for cycling. The challenge is already set to beat the 79,879 worldwide participants in 2016 so make your ride count.

Ribble CGR

How do you compare?

Strava Insights for the UK show that during 2016 an average of 223,376 bike commutes were uploaded to Strava every week, with cyclists logging an average distance of 13.5km (8.39 miles) and an average of 35 minutes in the saddle.

Bikes for commuting

If you’re looking to do more commuting by bike the highlight of our urban bikes is the popular, new commuting bike the CGR.

Versatility and practicality are at the core of the cleverly designed CGR – this is a bike that will not sit idle for very long. With the advantage of disc brakes, a carbon fork, mudguard mounts and pannier carrying capability this bike just ticks so many boxes.

The all-round practicality of the CGR does not prevent it from being a nimble and enjoyable ride and as the bike’s designer says: “We wanted a bike that was comfortable enough to ride every day, efficient enough to ride all day and even agile enough to take off road.”

EXPLORE THE CGR HERE

GUIDE: Multi-day nutrition plan to help you stay the course

Taking on a multi-day event and how to get the nutrition you need to succeed.

There are many multi-day cycling events throughout the year and a growing number of sportives run with this format such as the Haute Route or London to Paris. Track cycling has it’s thrilling Six-Day races which are contested by pairs of riders and made up of several individual events spread out across a set number of days typically during the autumn months. The London Six Day is set to take place at the city’s iconic Olympic velodrome at the end of October.

To understand this in a little more detail, we spoke with expert nutritionist Annie Simpson of OTE Sports to find out what each rider needs in order to succeed.

Velodrome
Breakfast

Simpson is quick to point out that breakfast is all about replenishing any depleted energy stores and refuelling for the day ahead. Protein is important for muscle recovery, while carbohydrates play a pivotal role in replacing any calories that got burnt during the previous day’s racing.

Simpson’s staple multi-day breakfast includes:

  • A large bowl of porridge made with milk, topped with a banana, a sprinkle of seed and nut mix and a drizzle of honey.
  • A two-egg omelette is also advised in order to hit optimal protein intake.
Pre-race

“Lunch can effectively be the pre-race meal if consumed between 2pm and 3pm” explains Simpson. “The idea is to have a meal that’s packed with carbs – a move which should ensure riders have enough energy to compete in the evening race.”

She also adds that it’s important to avoid foods that are high in fibre and fat, as both can take a long time digest – an issue that could lead to discomfort during and after the race.

“A good meal idea would be Chicken Arrabbiata served with white pasta” says Simpson – emphasising the need for clean carbs over stodgy options such as carbonara or other cream-based sauces.

During the pre-race period, Simpson adds that the intake of liquid is just as important as food. “A real emphasis needs to be put on hydration” she explains. “Velodrome conditions can often be very warm, especially with a full crowd in the stands.

“It may not sound like much, but a 2% drop in body weight due to dehydration can negatively affect someone’s sporting performance, so it is in the rider’s best interest to stay as hydrated as possible before and during the event.”

velodrome
In-race tactics

Ideally, each rider should consume 60g of carbohydrates per hour. This should ensure that they have the energy to compete throughout each event, as opposed to running out of energy or operating at sub-optimal performance levels.

“Between events there may not be time to stomach a significant snack, or the rider may not feel like eating much after fully exerting themselves each race” says Simpson. “This is where sports nutrition products like energy drinks and energy gels play a vital role.”

Being made of simple carbohydrates, they’re much easier for a rider’s body to break down. They are also quick and convenient to consume, making them the ultimate source of energy.”

Simpson also recommends protein bars and OTE’s recovery shake – as both provide lighter options for riders looking to take on board as much protein and carbohydrate as possible without feeling uncomfortable between races.

Post-race

After the race, there’s a chance that it might be too late for riders to consumer a proper meal without compromising their evening routine. Because of this, Simpson recommends the following options:

  • Bowl of cereal with Greek yoghurt.
  • Tuna and couscous salad.
  • Chicken wrap.

“Finally”, Simpson adds, “a top tip would be to have a high protein snack before bed. The idea behind this is to help aid recovery overnight. A pure protein shake such as OTE Super Protein, or a protein bar, are great at doing this.”

Have your say

We’ve heard from Annie Simpson, and now we want to hear from you! Do you have any top tips you think we should know about? If so, enter your recommendation in the comment section below.