A fitness holiday in London? Going beyond the mud of mountain bike trails however, you would be surprised at what there is to do in the capital city if you’re looking for an active holiday. Don’t believe us? Then rub your disbelieving eyes, book a stay in one of these serviced apartments, and take a look at our ideas below.
Get on your bike
You don’t have to do anything as arduous as Ride London (unless you want to), as there are bike trails for any difficulty level. There’s the Tamsin Trail around Richmond Park, for starters. It’s the perfect place for a ride, with acres of beautiful scenery surrounding you, and assorted wildlife to wonder at, including deer. While that won’t push you to the max, you could step it up a gear, and take the 48 km trail from Putney Bridge to Windsor Castle. Unfortunately, you will need to sort your own drinks flask out as it’s unlikely the Queen will be there with a celebratory cup of tea when you arrive!
Take to the waters
Thrillseekers will be desperate to take one of the high speed boat rides along the River Thames, but no matter how exciting they are, they don’t do much for your fitness level. To push yourself a little further, why not take out a kayak onto the river instead. You will probably get splashed by those erstwhile James Bonds whizzing past you on the speedboats, but you will at least have the satisfaction you are doing more to improve the strength and tone of your upper body than those maniacs. Check out the Hampstead Heath ponds as well, a popular destination for anybody looking for a swim. It’s best to go in the summer, however, as despite the crowds, the waters can get a little cold when the weather is chilly.
Scale the heights
Okay, so you aren’t allowed to scale Big Ben, no matter how tempted you are, and sitting atop the London Eye is a poor substitute for exercise. However, you can see London’s skyline while engaged in a wide variety of fitness activities across the city. You could make like Tarzan and take to the treetops at Go Ape in Battersea. You could scale the heights of the O2 Building, and then (if you’re very brave) take a bungee jump from atop it. And if you really aren’t afraid of heights, you could brave the UK’s tallest freefall, and try the the ArcelorMittal Orbit Abseil. Thankfully, you will be attached to a harness. Finally, no matter what the weather is like outside, you should try the Vertical Chill, an ice-climbing wall situated in Covent Garden. There’s something for every skill level, but you might want to wrap up in something warm before you head in there.
So, despite your unbelief, there is loads to do in London that will keep you fit and active during your holiday time. While the tourists are doing whatever tourists do in the city, you can take a break from the norm and enjoy some of the fabulous and energetic activities that are on offer to you. Phew!
Ride London 2014 – the most fun I’ve ever had in the rain!
On Friday Martyn and I headed off to London ready for the Ride 100 on Sunday.The weather was not looking promising, with thunderstorms and gusty winds forecast due to tropical storm Bertha.
We packed for rain, but could never of predicted just how much rain we would encounter on our journey.
On Saturday we picked up our race chips and as many freebies as we could possible carry before returning to our hotel in Ilford. After realising the train would not be running in time for our 6:17 load deadline we made plans to ride the five miles to the Olympic Park, after all, what’s an extra five miles on 100!
We had planned our nutrition snacks, USN protein, nuts and seeds bars and hour one and three of the race peanut butter sandwiches and a banana at hour two, jelly babies and Bounce Balls for hours four and five and more peanut goodness for hour six, all washed down with plenty of High Five electrolyte drink and water.
The alarm went off at 4am and was swiftly put on snooze, 20 mins later I shook Martyn and flicked the kettle ready for our porridge and tea breakfast.
Attaching race numbers to our bikes there was no sign of the horrendous weather that had been predicted and as we set off towards the Olympic Park we were hopeful for a dry race.
Arriving at the Olympic Park we gave in our bags which we would collect at the finish line and made our way to our wave loading. The park was already brimming with cyclists, all excited and making pre race checks to bikes and clothing. The atmosphere was really exciting, but with an added nerve of tension about the impending stormy forecast. We had been told due to the weather the course would cut out Leith Hill and Box Hill, making our journey one of 86 miles instead of 100. Standing on the start line this seemed like such a shame, later on I would become thankful of this short cut!
All black loading waves went off in quick succession meaning we started before Schedule. I think the organisers were keen to get people moving before the weather came in.
Out on the course we breezed through the first 20 miles with no sign of rain. It was just as exciting as last year, riding on closed roads through one of the busiest cities in the world with not a car in sight, you felt like you were part of something special.
I don’t recall the mile or time when the rain started, just that droplets began to appear on my jacket. The rain didn’t seem to bother us and as we entered Richmond Park we were feeling good and going strong.
Leaving the park, the scenery soon changed from built up urban areas to rolling hills and hedgerows. Entering the country side it became more apparent that it was raining as the wind funnelled through the trees. We headed for the main climb of the course, Newlands Corner. When we reached the hills the water was flooding down the road, so as well as gravity pulling us backwards we had to battle a stream flooding the road. When we reached the top and the view opened up it was one of dark grey sheets of rain! With nowhere to hide from the storm the only thing you could do was laugh about the situation. I was so glad to have Martyn there, we kept each other going and were often joined by loan cyclists taking turns to shelter slightly from the beating wind.
I think they call it “character building”!
Stopping wasn’t an option. We dug deep and kept rolling on. The marshals were great because of the rain parts of roads were completely flooded and they made sure people went through at safe speeds.
60 miles in, it’s time for a pit stop.
At 60 miles we stopped at a hub to refuel. I had been under the illusion up until this point that under my coat I was dry. Nipping to the loo and having to peal off soggy layers I found out this was not the case, I felt instantly cold and knew we needed to get going quickly to build up warmth again. I frustratingly managed to reset my Garmin at this point too! Martyn and I grabbed some High Five, bananas and urban fruit bags before heading off.
Coming into Kingston the rain had eased to a mere dribble and the sun for the first time peaked out from behind a cloud, this was a great feeling, we felt instantly energised and pushed hard for the finish.
Coming into London crowds of people lined the finish line cheering which lifted our spirits just when our legs were starting to tire.
The tar mac turned to red as we made it to The Mall and sprinted to the line together. We had made it, 90 miles in a tropical storm! 22,000 cyclists, 90 miles and one tropical storm proving that cyclists are made of tough stuff!
Thank you to Prudential and the event organisers and volunteer who made sure everyone was well looked after.
5 hours of character building riding. Another great experience and we eagerly await the 2015!
At the weekend we set off in a mini adventure, to cycle around the Isle of Wight.
Armed with our road bikes, energy drinks and Bounce Balls we set off from Shanklin and headed towards Ryde heading North East along the coastal path. This part of the Island is the most built up, travelling through Sandown, Bembridge and into St Helen the scenery changed from holiday resort to quaint English sea side village with twisty streets and white painted buildings. Sea View is the next village along the coast, which offers plenty of cute coffee shops, ice cream stalls and fish and chips, a perfect place to stop and take in the view of Portsmouth, however today we were on a mission. A mission to train for Ride London, we have two weeks until the event and so today wanted to keep stopping minimal!
The sun by this point was blazing down on us and when we reached East Cowes we had a banana stop and refilled our water bottles whilst waiting for the chain ferry. Just over a quarter of the way round we were making good time and were happy with our progress. West Cowes is a bustling sea side village which on a bike will test your slalom skills as your navigate through tourists, shoppers and buggies!
Munching on Jelly babies and Bounce Balls at intervals we were feeling strong having covered a good proportion of our ride.
From here the landscape changed from coastal road to country roads with plenty of twists and turns and a great deal of hills! We made a stop in Freshwater a beautiful little bay on the west coast which today was packed with tourists soaking up the sun.
We rode up to the Dandelion café where we got a take away sandwich and sat on the cliff to eat.
As welcoming as this rest bite was, getting going again we were hit with a long hill climb this was the start of the coastal road which weaved its way up and down the edge of the Island.
With not much wind this was a sweltering part of the journey in the mid day sun and we took on a lot of water. The open road was often the only thing we could see for miles as we kept spinning towards our destination.
Blackgang with only £1 left of our money I made our last water run to a shop in Niton luckily a 1 litre bottle was 65p which kept us going on the hilliest part of our journey so far. A road closed in Ventnor meant a gruelling diversion before the last climb up through the old village into Shanklin.
With tired legs and out of jelly babies Martyn and I were glad to be back and in need of a well earned cup of tea!
63.23 miles, 4 hours 47 minutes, 1,352 calories burnt.
Back on the ferry to the mainland, ready for our next adventure.
The alarm went off at 4am and then promptly back onto snooze for the next hour as we stirred and tried to get every inch of rest that we could before what was about to come.
At 5am we woke I made our porridge and tea with the hotel room kettle which eating it as we pulled on our layers and put our days supplies in our pockets. Numbers already attached to our jerseys we headed with our bikes to the train station for the first leg of our journey.
Arriving at the Olympic park at 06.20 with a load time of 7.20 gave us plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere. Situated next to the Copperbox arena were large lorries ready to take our belongings to the finish line. The sun was just up and the park was filling with eager excited looking cyclists wearing a multi coloured array of jerseys many representing the charities they were riding for. It was truly inspiring to think about how much money was going to be raised by friends and family supporting the 15,750 cyclists who were about to start an epic journey of ups and downs, twists and turns, through London and Surrey on the same course, which a year earlier saw elite cyclists from across the globe compete in the Olympic road race.
The time seemed to fly by and although it was early morning on a Sunday I had bags of energy and enjoyed listening to the commentator as each load of cyclists was sent through the start line. It was soon our turn and what had felt like an exciting prospect suddenly hit me as a daunting one.
The furthest Martyn and I had cycled was 38 miles during training and we were about to do 100! That suddenly seemed like a large leap and I felt sick and concerned about not being able to finish. I was used to nerves at the start of races but had never felt like this before, my stomach was tying itself in knots and as we edged closer to the start line with our bikes it felt very real!
Load ‘S’ went off to the sound of The Jam playing and I knew we were next. I don’t recall what was playing as I was too busy trying to focus on not stacking it into the other cyclists around me as we all pulled through the start.
Riding up through London on closed roads was an invigorating feeling, all the worries and nerves seemed to float away and I knew we would be fine.
We had talked about needing to keep an average speed of 14mph to finish in our predicted time of 7 hours 20 minutes. As I expected, we went off at a blistering pace around 21/22mph for the first couple of miles before we settled down to a more comfortable 17/18mph, still above what we wanted, but the crowds seemed to be pulling as along and it felt effortless. We were both buzzing on the high of what a truly special occasion this was.
At 14 miles we stopped for the loo and water stop which took longer than expected due to, as always, a que! We got back on and again set a fast pace as we caught up and over took people who had overtaken us whilst we were stopped.
We carried on drafting from time to time and cycling next to each other. It felt almost naughty taking up the whole road, cycling on the wrong side of the road and running every red light. Whilst biking through Blackwell Tunnel everyone was whistling and cheering, it was a atmosphere ill never forget and we all shared the experience together.
Coming up through Richmond Park the wind felt very strong and we took it in turns to draft one another so we could rest, this worked really well and I was so happy to have Martyn there as company and support.
At 22 miles the Garmin sadly cut out, so from then on we were data blind. We kept checking with other cyclists around us on the time and distance as we had devised a strict eating strategy for each hour and had enough snacks to last us until the end. Our snacks consisted of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Eat Natural bars, High 5 and SIS energy drinks, bananas, Clif energy bars and most importantly jelly babies!
Leaving London and moving out into Surrey we talked about the hills to come and decided to take it slow and steady and then give it another burn once we were back in London. The view changed from streets lined with houses and spectators to open fields and trees. As we meandered our way through small villages there were crowds of on lookers shouting and spurring you on up the next hill, the landscape had changed but also the road surface, we were now on pot hole watch and passed lots of people with punctures!
We turned a corner and were greeted by a large hill. Not knowing what to expect we were puzzled as to whether this was Box Hill, it turned out to be Newlands Corner which we found out at our stop at the top at the Hub where we again refuelled and used the toilets.
This was also nearly the half way mark at, 45 miles and at 11.00 put us an hour ahead of the broom waggon, which was the bus coming along to pick up people not able to make the 9 hour window to finish the race, this was a relief and meant we could take it easy for a little while knowing we had time.
The next large obstacle came in the form of Leith Hill nick named ‘lethal’ by our fellow cyclists. The hill was narrow and full or weary cyclists now on two feet pushing their bikes. I stayed in the middle pushing upwards, Martyn’s tactic was to cut up the gutter, this was working well until the person in front of him stopped forcing him to also stop. I carried on up and soon Martyn back on his bike was motoring up the hill to the top. Leith Hill was steep and seemed to go on for ever, it was a relief to get to the top and was thrilling going down the other side, it felt so fast even with my brakes on the speed just seemed to gather!
Going down was fantastic, but I was very aware that all this down meant there was a lot of up to come, in the form of a three hair pin bend called Box Hill. I had heard people talking about the three bends and relayed this to Martyn. We decided to go at our own pace. The start didn’t feel so bad as the large decent carried you part way up the first of the three bends that was until yet again we were met with a wall of cyclists! I lost Martyn as he seemed to have a boost of energy and sprinted away up the hill. I soon caught and over took him but waited after the second bend and we rode the last one together.
At the top we took a quick refuelling stop and admired the view before making our way onwards and again upwards. After Box Hill I felt sure London was not far away, we had covered 70 miles and were feeling slightly weary but generally good.
At Esher the refuelling station was at Sandown Park race course where we got High 5 Mojito flavour energy drink, my now personal favourite, it seemed to give me a spike of energy and again we picked the pace up. The sign for 90 miles eventually came just before Wimbledon. The scenery once again changed to houses and shops and spectator’s waving flags and shouting, this perked us up and we rode faster carried again by the crowd. The JDRF supporters were great and really screamed and shouted it was an awesome feeling.
The last 10 miles were a blur. We pushed the pace and kept each other going through each corner, now out of snacks the conversation, when we could catch a breath to speak, turned to what we should have for dinner?
Coming into the Mall was incredible! I remember watching the road race in the Olympics and seeing the crowds on the TV and this looked just the same, We agreed to sprint and it was like all of the last 99 miles had fallen away and my legs felt fresh and raring to go. We crossed the finish line together emotional and full of pride, we had done it! 7 ½ hours ago we had started on a journey together in the Olympic Park and now it was over standing in front of Buckingham Palace.
Words cannot describe the feeling of accomplishment and joy when you look back over what you have just achieved.
Our total riding time was 6 hours 28 minutes an hour quicker than we had estimated.
We collected our medals and goodie bags and sat in Green Park, soaking up the atmosphere for a while before making the journey to the Thames Clipper. This turned out to be a two hour wait so after cycling 102 miles we decided what’s another 10! And cycled back to the hotel.
Our first 100 miles and we are hooked! We want to do more and are hoping to again take part in Ride London in 2014. London to Paris sounds quite inviting too !! Watch this space….
So the good news arrived this week I have got a place on the JDRF team to Ride London in August.
My younger brother Sam was diagnosed with diabetes when he was five, I was 11 at the time. I have watched him grow up with the challenges of living with diabetes and am so proud that he is now at university, studying a sports science degree, playing rugby and leading an independent life like all his friends. He has only got there however from the constant support from his parents and diabetic team and it has not always been a comfy journey.
I believe that diabetes as a disease is sometimes disregarded. Children’s perception is that their friends are allowed snacks in class and teachers sometimes feel ones diabetes needs are an “excuse to get out of class”. However the reality of living with diabetes is very complex and is often not understood properly even by adults.
I have five months to raise my target of £1000 and also train around my cross country races for the 100 mile journey.
If you would like to sponsor me please visit my sponsorship page.
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Sam and Me