Mike Levett's Story

London to Paris 2017: My Training Journey

A couple of months prior to the start of the ride, a Facebook group was set up for the participants in the London to Paris ride. This became a very popular medium for putting faces to names prior to the event itself, and as some of us were also on the training programme Strava, this meant we could follow each other’s training progress in the weeks leading up to this five hundred Kilometre challenge.

My training programme finished the week prior to the actual start date on Wednesday 13th June with three hundred kilometres of cycling whilst staying in the South of France.

I have to say this challenge was one of the best things I have ever done in my life as it encompassed everything I love; cycling with great people, riding through some stunning countryside, battling the sometimes inclement weather and all for a great cause, the Big Issue Foundation.

Each of the four days of cycling was fantastic as the Skyline Overseas organisation made sure the route was clearly signposted with pink arrows so it was difficult to stray off course- I have to say I managed to go off course on the first day as I missed an arrow just before lunch, but was soon back on track!

The Skyline support crew were excellent and looked after any cyclists that had a mechanical or needed help with a puncture, and even arranged a birthday cake for me at the dinner on the second day in the hotel in Abbeville.

During the ride, the pop up food and drinks stop were amazing and, apart from the third day when I basically did a fast solo ride, I dispensed with my gels and just tucked into to the great food on offer.

The route itself was a marvellous way of seeing both the Kent & northern France countryside at its best. The route had everything; the narrow, winding lanes of Kent with some fairly steep hills at the start, then towards Dover and France, the wider, well tarmacked and undulating roads passed through very quiet villages and the battle of Crecy battlefield.

My training was paying off the longer the ride went on- I was having a great time and along the way, meeting some wonderful people with great stories of their fundraising and cycling exploits.

All too soon for me, it was the final day. The parade into Paris and a circuit of the Eiffel tower was an occasion I will never forget. What is next for me? Well my plan next year is to do the London to Amsterdam Challenge in June 2018 and the Prudential RideLondon in July 2018.

London to Paris 2017

Why do I support the Big Issue Foundation? For me there are two compelling reasons:

Firstly, John Bird’s philosophy of “this is a hand up and not a handout” has always struck a chord with the entrepreneurial side of me which is why I have always bought the magazine from our local vendor who has their pitch outside Waitrose in Kingston upon Thames.

Secondly, in my own business, Asana Health, I have the comfort of a nice warm office to work in which is something my local vendor or other vendors throughout the UK don’t! And yet as ‘My Pitch’ testifies in the magazine, the vendors, despite the odds stacked against them, do turn their lives round by running their own micro business.

I have been training and racing for the last thirty six years, first as a runner, then as a triathlete and for the past eleven years purely as a cyclist participating in various races and long distance rides.

During those years I have raised money for different charities, but always at the back of my mind was that I should be raising money for a cause that really resonated with me. In 2016, I participated in the London Prudential 100 in Team TBIF for the first time.

Although my ride did not go quite according to plan, Justine from The Big Issue Foundation was there to greet me at the finish and we got talking about the possibility of me joining the London to Paris ride in 2017.

Whilst I have always been reasonably good at one day endurance events like the Ironman triathlon and twelve hour time trials, cycling 500 kilometres over four days on unknown roads does represent quite a challenge for me.

To help ensure that  I would be fit enough to ride four successive days of an average 125 kilometres, I have had to change my normal training regime to ensure that I get round and have a great time in the process.

Since the end of March I have put in 245 hours of training, cycled over 6,000 kilometres together with over 50,000 metres of riding up and down the Surrey hills.

My weekly training programme

  • Tuesdays 70-100kms with plus 1200 metres of climbing
  • Wednesdays easy 50-60kms
  • Thursday 1hr 30mins fitness test on the turbo
  • Fridays same as Tuesday and finally
  • Sundays plus 100kms

I was pleased with the fact that my training paid off in this year’s London Prudential 100 where I rode round without stopping, finishing in a time of 5:18:54 

As I write this, I only have seven more training sessions to go and then a very easy week before setting off on Wednesday 13th September 2017 and I cannot wait to get going!

London Prudential 100 Cycle

This was my fourth successive attempt at trying to get a good time in the London Prudential 100 (LP 100) and in the process to be a training bench mark for the forthcoming London to Paris Cyle for The Big Issue Foundation in September!

My first attempt in 2014 was badly affected by the tail end of a hurricane and cut short to eighty six miles, in 2015 I ran out of energy with 20kms to go “my fault entirely” and in 2016 I was held up for an hour at the 70km point so this year I was hoping for a good ride.

I stayed in a hotel the night before near Tower Bridge and was woken at about 3.30am by the rain bouncing of the road 3 floors below my bedroom but luckily by the time I surfaced at 4.20am the rain had stopped. Sheer relief I can tell you as I don’t mind cycling in the rain but I did not want to spend two hours in the holding pen before my start time of 6.48am.

Since the end of March I have been training five mornings a week, all this training paid off in the LP 100 as my pre-race plan worked to perfection and I finished in a time of 5:18:54, a time with which I was pleased with as it bodes well for the upcoming 500kms Big Issue Foundation's London to Paris ride.

As usual the crowds through the towns and villages despite the overcast skies were out in their thousands giving raucous encouragement to all the thousands of fast and slow cyclists giving their all for various charities.

My fundraising target for both rides is just over £2,000 and to date I have raised nearly £1,600, so fingers crossed for the rest! If you want to help me reach my target you can sponsor me here.

For a taste of my ride this link will take you to the official clip 

I am already looking forward to being part of The Big Issue Foundation's team for third time in 2018!

If you are interested in joining The Big Issue Foundation's Ride London 2018 team next year, you can register your place here

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