Guest post by Gemma Hume, Digital Coms Officer for Practical Action.
In the early hours of Sunday 8th June, 4,000 cyclists will take to London’s streets for Nightrider, an incredible 100km charity bike ride…and I will be one of them. You could be too!
This time last year, I grudgingly agreed to do Nightrider with some of my colleagues. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life! I’m now training for this year’s Nightrider challenge to raise money for Practical Action.
Why should I take part in Nightrider?
Whether you’re a commuter looking to set yourself a challenge and improve your fitness, or an adept cyclist wishing to push yourself further and do something for a good cause, Nightrider is a challenge you won’t forget!
Cycling through the empty streets past London’s landmarks – all lit up in the night sky – and then watching the sun rise over the capital is a magical and surreal experience.
I loved every minute of Nightrider. From the camaraderie of our team and fellow cyclists, to the joy of conquering some challenging hills; the sight of fellow Nightriders battling with rickshaws and drunken Londoners and the high-fives and cheers from passing revellers – it was a total buzz. And, of course, the knowledge that we were doing something that would really make a difference.
I’d encourage anyone to do Nightrider. When your tired legs reach Alexandra Palace at 7am (or earlier if you don’t stop to eat so many snacks) and you’re rewarded with a cup of tea and a bacon butty, it will all seem worth it!
You need to register. You pay £39 on registration (free if you sign up two friends) and you just need to raise £175 for the charity. The Practical Action team starts at 11.15pm on Saturday 7th June at Alexandra Palace. The requirements are basic: you must be over 18, be a confident cyclist and wear a helmet.
Why should I do it for Practical Action?
- You’ll be helping Practical Action to help children and families escape life threatening hunger, disease and poverty.
- You’ll be part of the biggest team entering Nightrider and you’ll get dedicated support from the Practical Action team, who will also be there to cheer you on around the course – that really kept us going through the small hours!
- You get a free snazzy cycling shirt to wear on the night!
How do I train for Nightrider?
Even if you have a daily 10km commute like me, the prospect of training for a 100km event can still seem daunting. But if you break it down into gradual increases over a period of 10-12 weeks it’s entirely achievable for almost anyone (even me).
I’d recommend training 3-4 times a week. I’ve started with an easy ride of 1-2 hours each time.
You don’t have to complete a 100km ride before the event but it would be wise to do a longer ride of at least 60-70km. It boosted my confidence having completed 70km, knowing that I could have cycled a lot further.
Here is the training plan I’m following:
I’ve also incorporated hills into my training as there are a few challenging hills on the Nightrider route!
Apart from fitness training, here are some other tips to ensure you have a great ride:
- Learn to fix a puncture. You’d be surprised how many people couldn’t do this! Take a puncture repair kit, tyre levers, mini-pump and spare inner tubes with you. (Recommend reading: how to stop getting punctures)
- Test out food and drink you’re planning to consume. I found that certain sports drinks made me feel really sick!
- Get a couple of bottle cages. I’m glad I did this – it meant I was stocked up with water all the way round.
- Buy a saddle bag (or handlebar bag). I used a rucksack last year which caused horrendous back pain!
- Check the weather forecast and prepare clothing accordingly. It gets chilly riding at night. I had a thermal on under my cycling top, a pair of skins (compression tights) and a windproof / waterproof lightweight jacket – perfect!
- Familiarise yourself with the route. The route is signposted but people have been known to miss the signs and end up on a detour!
So what are you waiting for? Sign up to take part in Nightrider today!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.