Cycling Tips From L2P Ride Captain

3rd April 2019


One of the ride captains who helped with Cure Leukaemia’s London to Paris event last year is getting back on his bike for Velo Birmingham & Midlands to raise funds for the charity.

James Carrannante, a consultant anaesthetist, was so inspired by his involvement with last September’s L2P that he wants to ‘give something back’ to help Cure Leukaemia continue to fund nurses and trials for patients at the Clinical Centre for Haematology at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.  

“I decided to do the Velo for Cure Leukaemia mainly because I wanted to give back to the charity after taking part in London to Paris,” says James, who was asked by the HOTCHILLEE events company to be a ride captain.

 

“My role was to help all the Cure Leukaemia cyclists make it to Paris, I guess providing physical, mechanical and emotional support.

“This would include keeping them all going during the hard times, stopping if someone had a puncture or another issue, and then helping them get back into their group.

 

“Given my job, at times it was also something of a ‘Busman’s holiday’ as I gave out medical advice following a couple of incidents such as a hamstring injury, hand palsy, sore knees or ‘Man-flu’.

 

“What has stayed with me since was meeting some truly inspiring cyclists who have been through treatment for leukaemia such as Mark Nicholas and Jenna Ostrowski, who both managed to finish the gruelling ride.

 

“I also had the real pleasure of riding and chatting with Geoff Thomas on the way into the centre of Paris, and listening to his inspirational story.

 

“The weather at times was atrocious, including some very strong wind on day two and everyone getting well and truly soaked on the final day into Paris.

 

“But I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to being a ride captain again this September, where, fingers crossed, we will get better weather!”

Before that comes Velo, and James will be back in the saddle for the 100-mile on International Nurses Day on May 12th.  

Click HERE to support his fundraising for Cure Leukaemia.

“I've never ridden in the Midlands area before and my mum is from Birmingham so there is some nostalgia there,” he explains.   

 

“So my way of saying thank you is that I'll be fundraising for Cure Leukaemia and having a blast, riding around Birmingham and the surrounding area.  

 

“And I hope to raise as much money as I can for this amazing charity.”

Although entries for the 100-mile event have now closed, riders can still take part in the 42-mile cycle for Cure Leukaemia, still achievable even for beginner cyclists. Email Velo@cureleukaemia.co.uk to secure a place for the 42-mile route.

James has kindly put together a list of ten top tips to help anyone either starting out and aiming for 42 miles, or taking on the full route.

1) Buy your bike from a local independent bike shop

It may cost you a bit more money, but they'll make sure the bike fits you - this is important to ensure you ride in comfort and avoid injury. Apart from getting the correctly-sized bike, it's really important to get a saddle that fits you. They'll also be able to help you out if you have any after-sale questions.

2) Carry a puncture repair kit/spare inner tube(s) and learn how to fix a puncture

If you don't know how to fix a puncture, there are lots of places where you can learn how. Ask someone at a bike shop, at your bike club, a mate, or look on YouTube.

3) Essential bike clothing

Firstly, invest in a good pair of padded cycling shorts especially if you're going to be in the saddle for long periods. Use chamois cream. And don't wear underwear under your padded cycling shorts!

Also it's worthwhile getting a good base layer to work away sweat, and a jacket - one that's windproof, waterproof and, just as importantly, breathable.

4) Get clipped in 

You'll generate more power, not just from pushing down without slipping, but also from the upstroke of your pedal action, and you'll pedal smoother too. Go for double-sided pedals as they are easier to clip into, rather than single-sided. I practiced clipping in and out leant up against a wall, then progressed to practicing this outside at slow speed.

5) Join a local bike club

I joined my local cycling club soon after starting road cycling.  A good cycling club will welcome you and be there to help you out with any technical or mechanical issues. They may have a club night with presentations on topics such as maintenance.  They'll also go over group riding and essential hand signals so you can communicate effectively with other cyclists.

6) Remember to fuel up and stay hydrated

Don't forget to eat and drink regularly as you ride.  If you're riding for more than 90 minutes, aim to eat something regularly, perhaps a cereal/energy bar/flapjack every hour. You'll need to get practice taking food from the rear of your jersey (if it's in a wrapper, have it opened until you're competent to take hands off the bars to open the food). You also must be able to take your bottle out of the cage and to put it back whilst on the move. Drink small amounts regularly rather than waiting until you’re thirsty.

7) Safety out on the road

Look where you're going...this sounds obvious but it's important to look ahead so you can see obstacles, potholes, parked cars etc.

Plan your cycle route with anticlockwise turns so that you turn left at junctions,  rather than turning right and having to cross the flow of traffic, whilst probably having to clip-out. 

Road positioning is also important... speak to someone at your bike club or have a look at the guidelines published by Bikeability.

8) Ride at an even pace

The best way to maximize the chance of finishing the event is to go at an even pace. From finding out the hard way, it's really easy to go off hard at the start of an event, trying to keep up with stronger riders, and then later on you'll suffer and won't be able to hold even an easy pace.

9) Build up your cycling gradually

If your joints are creaking, which was the case before I started road cycling (from too much rugby and football in my youth and being overweight), don't worry. As long as your bike is set up correctly, cycling doesn't put a lot of strain on your joints and I think is a great choice if you want to get fit and lose weight. I lost about 25kg over two years.  However, don't over-train, make sure you have rest days, and remember your recovery is important (see below).

10) Recover well

After riding, get adequate recovery - stretching, rehydration and protein are key components. Protein shakes are popular. However, after an event protein bars are ideal as no water or shaker is required. Try and eat a proper protein-rich meal as soon as you can. Consider taking Montmorency cherry capsules to help soothe aching muscles.

“These tips come from many years spent road cycling and I hope they are helpful,” says James.

 

“The main thing is for people to enjoy their cycling, and I wish everyone safe and happy miles!”

 

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"By backing Cure Leukaemia you will be making a direct impact; helping hundreds of thousands of people live a better life and avoid unnecessary suffering and death."

George Freeman MP