Power To The People

I am back in training for my return trip to France in July. Having completed the whole tour last year I have some idea of what I have let myself in for. The reality is that to ride consecutive days, over the distances that the tour takes, is a challenge that needs to be taken seriously.

So as well as long rides at the weekends I am hitting the turbo trainer during the week.

One of the benefits of an early start

A lot has changed with regards to these indoor torture machines. When I first started using one 5 years ago it was a question of set it up and away you go. The technological advances in the last few years means that you can now race virtual courses connected to other people and if you have the right trainer and bike bits it will automatically simulate the course, making it harder to pedal as you climb, easier on the descents, etc.

I have yet to venture into this world. I use my turbo time to listen to music and watch stuff on my ipad. The only training plans I use are printed on a lamented sheet of A4 paper.

Old school!

If I want to ride faster I just put on some different music, AC / DC normally has me powering along. It can also be fun to just surf your music catalogue find stuff that you never knew you had or discovering an old “banger” (I am informed by my teenagers this is what the youth call a top tune!) on spotify. As long as you remember to pedal it can be a fun and worthwhile hour.

I do have to watch myself on YouTube though. Watching a classic music video can easily turn into an hour of nostalgia as you jump through distant memories. I am not quite sure how I ended up watching the opening credits to “Citizen Smith”, one of my all time favourite comedies when I was growing up as a kid, but it was a real treat.

Of course then you just have to go and watch a few clips and soon you are looking for the complete series on Amazon or iTunes to download. Whilst all this is going on the pedals are turning but the intensity has definitely gone out of the workout.

The catchline of Wolfie the main character in Citizen Smith is “Power To The People”, for many cyclists it is a power meter that allows them to race and simulate climbing various iconic mountains from their own homes.

This irony was not lost on me as I was watching this classic comedy. For I have actually invested in a power meter and it was sat in its box waiting patiently for me to let it out.

Last year my training for France involved basically lots of hours on my bike, I have ridden enough to know when I can go harder and when I should back it off. But all of this has been done on feel. If anything I probably don’t ever really push myself to see what I am really capable of, the goal has always been to complete whatever is in front of me in one piece.

Regardless of how you train there is always a reward afterwards

So this year I did think of trying a different approach and being a bit more structured with my training, hence the power meter purchase.

I have had a couple of reservations, firstly I have no idea about how to use one and secondly I do wonder if I will become a slave to the numbers.

Even if you are not a competitive cyclist, the  numbers can be quite addictive, how far you have ridden, how fast, etc is all part of the fun of tracking your progress. My fear is that by adding another layer of data it could end all enjoyment. I have no doubt I’ll be able to climb faster but is this a good thing if I am not actually looking around and enjoying it.

The reality is that I need to bite the bullet, faced with a rather busy work calendar for the next few months, I need to find a way to be more efficient with my training. So I have the power meter on my bike and I am in the process of talking to somebody who understands these sort of things to help design a training program that will unleash the power of watts into my cycling world.

Maybe I can combine my old turbo training regime with my new one,  for one of my other guilty pleasures on the turbo has actually been watching singalong versions of some of the Classic Disney tunes. I wonder how many watts I can push to ”Let it Go” from Frozen?

For a good cause

I am raising money to support the William Wates Memorial Trust. Their mission is to helps the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence and fulfil their potential. This is achieved by giving grants to charities that engage young people through the mediums of sport, arts and education.

On last years ride I was fortunate enough to meet some of the people who benefit from the grants that the trust provides. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to know that the money donated makes a real difference.

You can sponsor me here:   www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BenReeve








Posted in TDF

Stages 1 and 2 – Germany and Belgium

Today was the first real day of the tour.

Yesterday we had a ceremonial ride in the traffic around Düsseldorf to kick us off.

A slow trip around Düsseldorf

It took us an hour to get around the time trial course which will take the professional minutes. Obviously the roads were not closed for us and with a peloton of 50+ people it would have made an interesting and potentially annoying spectacle for pedestrians and traffic alike as we crept around.

The general mood of the bunch was relief to get out and some frustration at not have a proper ride. That was all fixed today as we rode 200 km to Liege in Belgium.

Today was windy but dry. The first 40km or so to the first feed stop is a social affair as we ride in smaller groups and everybody waits until we all arrive before we head of for the rest of the day. It’s a great concept as you get to chat and meet your fellow riders mixing the varies abilities.

One of the four feed stops during the day

After the feedstop it’s game on. We are all here to ride our bikes and the goal is to complete what we have set out to do. The challenge is to do this and to also enjoy yourself along the way. The other challenge is that when you put a bunch of bike riders together, naturally the pace can go up. Taking turns on the front and rolling through allows you to cover more ground quicker than if you are on your own. It’s fun, makes sense and can also mean that you are so focused on the wheel in front you can easily miss what is around you.

A Lycra glad backside, a carbon fibre bike and a bit of tarmac can look the same wherever you are in the world. Though I must say the roads are superb as they are ready for the professionals.

So as we chewed up the kilometers today, there were times when I did wonder if I should just sit up, drop off the back of the bunch and enjoy the surroundings. Tough call to make on day one when you really want to get it done and back to the hotel to prepare for day two.

Fortunately we were forced to slow down when we had to dismount to make our way through a village fair. The entire village was out and the narrow streets were packed, we walked our bikes through the festivities to many bemused looks.

As I passed a stall selling sausages cooked over charcoal the natural instinct was to stop, put my feet up and have a beer to go with the deliciously smelling sausage that would have been well earned after 180km. There was a brief moment of debate amongst a few of us about being here to enjoy ourselves and one beer wouldn’t do any harm, but sense prevailed and we got back on our bikes and rode the final 20km into Liege.

The wind made today tough and given that it’s the first time most of us have actually met and ridden together there is already great camoradary. We all know it’s not a race, the trick is going to be finding the balance between riding hard to get the job done and taking time to experience the countryside and villages that we will travel through. As the days build on each other and we clock up the KM my sense is that we will be so knackered we won’t have much of a choice but to take our time.

Lycra behinds in Liege

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Ready, steady, go…

I have ridden 63,915KM since I first got on a pushbike 6 years ago. If I was a car you might start to think about trading me in for something with fewer KM’s.

It doesn’t matter where I have ridden or what I have ridden up, the next 3 weeks will undoubtably be the most challenging KM’s I have ever covered.

Having had a few days back in England to get ready for my big ride I have had some time to reflect about what lies ahead of me. So here are a few observations that I have made about the coming weeks.

Walking on Sunshine

Riding in the sunshine makes everything easier. For the last week back in England, there has been a “heatwave”. I know this because the recent spell of warm weather has been mentioned along with the, “hottest summer of 1976“, which I actually remember as a kid. Compared to what I am now used to, it is just a nice summers day. Being on your bike connects you to the world around you, in the sunshine this is amplified.The smells, sounds and vistas of the countryside make you appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. If you want to experience a country, then go for a ride on a sunny day.


In all honesty it makes no sense to ride in anything other than sunshine. There is no logical reason to go out in the rain on your skinny little tyres and your thin Lycra to ride your bike if there is an alternative source of transport available. A friend remarked, after I bailed on a ride in the rain in Sydney, that “It does rain in France.” For all of us riding the TdF the weather is one variable we can’t control.

It doesn’t matter how much you have spent on wet weather gear, if you spend hours outside in the rain your going to get wet. Once you accept it and embrace it, the ride can take on a different challenge. Battling nature can be stimulating and most rewarding. It can also be a pain in the very wet arse. So fingers crossed for the next 3 weeks, maybe not for a heatwave but for some long sunny days.

Just Can’t Get Enough

Show me a bike rider who has ridden enough, bought enough, or thought about their bike enough and I would suggest they are a part-time wannabe. For the seriously inflicted there is always something else on the horizon.

This year I have ridden close to 8,000km to get ready for France and I still feel a little unprepared. This is partly due the nerves about what lies ahead and the challenge of riding every day for the next three weeks.

The duration and scale of being a lifer is actually what appealed to me in the first place, the challenge of doing something that was so physically demanding that no amount of training is going to give you the same experience. Sure you can do a long ride and then back up for a few days but you can’t replicate the whole 21 days. In all honesty I did think about giving it a go but work and other day to day priorities got in the way.

So the advice from previous lifers is to, focus on today, make sure you look up and enjoy it, let tomorrow take care of itself. Some very welcome and calming advice.

I’m on my way

A recurring theme in all of my jottings is how good I feel when I ride my bike, both physically and mentally. Imagine how good it will feel after 3 weeks!

I am very aware that what I am about to do is very indulgent. There is nothing at risk, no real hardship to be faced, just a chance to completely immerse myself into something I love to do.

Sitting on your backside pedalling for all those KM gives you lots of time to think, to see beyond the blinkers of everyday life and to get a different perspective. It makes you appreciate what you have, who you have and how fortunate I am to even have the chance to take on this adventure. Having Robyn join me half way around makes it even better.

Its nice to think that in France over the next few weeks my odometer will continue to click over as I rack up a few more KM’s. Once I arrive in Paris I’ll see if anything needs to be traded in.

Is it time to make a donation?

You can make your donation below and send us an email with your address to mailto:robyn@ratherberidingmybike.com and we will pop an exclusive Rather Be Riding My Bike tea towel in the post to you. We have covered the costs for the tea towels and will pay for the postage so all your money goes to help out those that need it.

To donate click here:


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img_5451We are teaching our eldest to drive. I say we but the reality is that Robyn has taken on the task. It has been agreed by all parties that my involvement would not be a good thing.

You can start to learn to drive here in Australia when you are 16. You complete a theory test and then have to accumulate 120 hours of driving experience before you can take your test. This is recorded in a log book and has to have a number of hours driven at night as well. As painful as this can sound it is a really good thing. It builds up a reference structure of what is actually required to drive on the roads and should make it better for all drivers.

I do find it hard to believe that we have a daughter old enough to drive. Time is flying past and this is further bought home when we bump into old primary school friends and families. It’s always fun meeting with people we haven’t seen for a while, apart from the kids, the topic of conversation normally gets around to what are we up to and subsequently we explain our planned adventures in France next year. People think we are slightly mad and are very supportive. Apart from wanting to understand all the details the best question I have been asked was, “Have you even thought about not being able to do it?”

Interestingly enough until this question was I asked, I hadn’t. This prompted me to think about why this hadn’t even occurred to me, my conclusion is that having ridden a bit over the last 5 years I have my own reference structure of what is required:

1) Mind

A large part of cycling long distances and then doing it day after day is about your mindset.

img_5927Providing you have done sufficient training a large part of it is a mental game. My thinking is that other people have completed the task before so it must be possible, I am doing this of my own free will, in fact I am lucky to be able to do this so it’s up to me to enjoy every moment. Just deal with what’s in front of me and keep pedaling.

2) Body

“How do you train for an event like this?”

This is another question we get asked. My approach is simple, you ride lots! We get up and go out for a long ride and then do the same the next day and so on. Eat, sleep, bike, repeat as the saying goes. Sure we can manage our overall fitness, do some interval training,  hill repeats, etc but the thing I have learned is to make sure that when we ride you are comfortable on your bike.

I read somewhere that the biggest issue most marathon runners face is to actually get to the start line without any injuries. For us it’s all about sustainability, providing we can get up and get on a bike and if we are not in any pain (apart from obviously feeling tired) then we can pedal. Even the discomfort of riding up any large hills is temporary once you get to the top; you just have to keep on pedaling.

3) Soul

img_6393Doing what you love for a sustained period of time, without worrying about anything else in your life, has to be good for the soul. I love riding my bike so being able to combine this with traveling half way around the world and having Robyn do it with me is a perfect combination. Throw in to the mix that my extended family are planning to bring our daughters over to France to visit us somewhere along the way and I start to feel very grateful for what I have.

Who knows what will happen before and on the roads of France, our challenge is to make sure that we prepare the best we can and then deal with whatever comes our way.

Not a bad approach if you are learning to drive as well. As the eldest clocks up her driving hours we will clock up KM’s on the bike and look forward to what is ahead of us.

Make a donation to a good cause here:


I must love riding my bike, given I was up at 5am on Christmas Day to try out a present!



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Twinkle Twinkle

006If you want to be a Little Star this Christmas then why not make a donation to support a great cause and to give us added motivation as we cycle around the Tour De France route next year.

005For behaving like a star we want to reward you with a “3 Star Rating” and we will send you, 3 actual Christmas Stars in return for your donation.

These stars have been hand made by ourselves and they are waiting to be dispatched to you, anywhere in the world.

We are paying for postage and packaging so all your money is going to a great cause.

Make a donation then send us your address to robyn@ratherberidingmybike.com and we will put them in the post.

Donate early to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.

Donate by clicking below:


Check out our Fundraising page if you want to know more about the actual stars!

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Cool or not?


“Cool?”, I asked my teenagers.

 “Not cool!”, they replied in unison.

 “But we will look like we are from a proper team, we could get matching kit.”


What is old…

 “So not cool”, came the reply.

We had not set out to get matching push bikes. In fact until this week we didn’t, we had the same brand but from different years and different colours so there was enough difference for it to be relatively unnoticeable.

Then I found a crack in my frame and the nice people at Cervelo agreed to replace it under warranty.


…is new again

I offered to upgrade to a more expensive, different frame but they wouldn’t play ball and provided a replacement frame the same as Robyn’s.

So now we have matching bikes. A very, very, first world problem but something that I am having to manage. I do understand that this is more of an issue for me and nobody cares, but…

Maybe this is the excuse I need to buy a new bike for France next year.



Posted in TDF

One and a half

The route for next years Tour De France has been out for a few weeks now. Interesting for those that follow this sort of thing, compelling if you are planning to ride the entire route next year. It didn’t really matter what the route was, having signed up to ride the whole thing I was going to have to get around whatever they put in my way. For Robyn it was decision time.

The wonderful folk at the Tour De Force go to great lengths to ensure that you can ride the exact route as the professionals. As well as offering “The Lifer” a chance to do all 21 stages, they also offer different packages to suit all tastes. Robyn had to decide what “Tour Taster” she was going to commit to.

We knew that it would be good to ride into Paris together, the question was how many stages would Robyn do before this? Traditionally the last week of the tour involves some mountains so whatever was on offer was going to be a challenge.

Robyn’s decision making process is different to mine. I like to plan (some may say I need to control) and generally I like to go into things having analysed it to death.

Robyn’s takes a more straight forward approach, so when I asked her what she thought she would like to do we had this brief exchange,

“Well If I’m going to travel all the way over to Europe I may as well make the most of it.”

“Yes”, I agreed.

“If I ride my bike lots beforehand, I’m confident that I’ll get around whatever is put in front of me.”

“Well yes, but you need to think about…”

“Don’t start that analysing stuff, do you think I can do half of it?”

” Yes, you can, if…”

“Don’t care about the ‘ifs’, sign me up.”

And with that she has signed up to ride “Tour Taster 8 – (Semi Lifer Second Half)”.

10 Stages and a total of 1,553Km across 10 days. This is what it looks like:

  • tour-taste-8-graphicStage 12: Thurs 6th Pau to Peyragudes. 214km.
  • Stage 13: Fri 7th Saint Girons to Foix. 100km.
  • Stage 14: Sat 8th Blagnac to Rodez. 181km.
  • Stage 15: Sun 9th Laissac to Puy en Velay. 189km.
  • REST DAY: Mon 10th
  • Stage 16:Tues 11th Puy en Velay to Romans sur Isere. 165km.
  • Stage 17: Weds 12th La Mure to Serre Chevalier. 183km.
  • Stage 18: Thurs 13th Briancon to Izoard. 178km.
  • Stage 19: Fri 14th Embrun to Salon de Provence. 220km.
  • Stage 20: Sat 15th Marseille loop. 23km. & TGV to Montgeron.
  • Stage 21: Sun 16th Montgeron to Paris. 100km ish.

Inspired by Robyn’s approach and how easy it makes everything, I have decided to just play what is in front of me. I am resisting the very strong urge to plan my way through each stage, instead I am going to focus on the one day where we may actually have to think for ourselves – the rest day

The TDF organisers are so good, they have even provided the following insights to what the rest day has in store, “Le Puy en Velay known for its lace, lentils and a local spirit made with lemon verbena. It’s a really lovely little town with plenty of laundrettes and cafes”.

Seems a trip to a French laundrette is on the cards for the morning and then all we need to do is find somewhere nice for lunch.

With this sorted and knowing the good folk at the TDF take care of everything else, all we have to ride our bikes “lots” before next July, and raise some money for a great cause. This is where you can help out by clicking below:donate



Summer is just around the corner in Sydney, time to ride our bikes lots!










Posted in TDF

Non, je ne regrette rien


Lake Taupo in New Zealand is about as far away from Bracknell in the UK as you can get. It has been an interesting journey for the 5 of us who have been catching up. Richard, Bobo and I all went to the same playgroup together, then on to primary school. We also went to the same secondary school in Bracknell, where we met with Emma and Justin. On average we have all known each other for over 40 years.

Justin now lives in Auckland, the rest of us ended up living in Sydney. There was no coordinated plan it just turned out this way. The 4 of us catch up in Sydney fairly regularly, normally with the families, and earlier this year we decided to go on a road trip to visit Justin without the entourage.

image3A couple of days in Auckland and then down to Lake Taupo. We have made it to Sunday afternoon and we are still talking. Apparently no thanks to me.

Robyn, my wife, had talked to me before we left. She explained that even if it was not my intention, I can be a little difficult to live with at times. I needed to remind myself that these were my dearest friends and that to make sure it was a holiday to remember, for the right reasons, I must take or hire a bike. For their sake not necessarily mine. Riding my bike gives me a sense of calm, I feel balanced and a lot more relaxed. Without it I can go a little stir crazy. So I have managed a quick spin around Auckland yesterday and did a lap of the lake today.


Hire Bike = Friendship Insurance

It’s a shame I didn’t ride my bike on Friday as well, it would have spared poor Bobo a rather intense discussion that we had over dinner. Certainly not my finest work and fortunately for me Bobo was still talking to me on Saturday.

Getting away from the chatter of everyday life and a change of scenery gives you a chance to reflect. We have had lots of time to reminisce about years gone by and to replay some of the fond memories of growing up.

“Would you change anything or do anything different?”, was an interesting topic of conversation over dinner last night.  There was nothing of significance that anybody would change. Sure we may have approached certain situations over the years in slightly different ways, in my case Friday night’s dinner and there was a New Years Eve party in 1991 where a slightly different approach may have delivered better results. But even these bad decisions make you who you are today.

Even when I set out this morning on my bike, feeling slightly shabby from sampling too much local Pinot last night, I had no regrets. After riding the first 2 hours into a headwind through rolling countryside I was feeling very regretful.

Then I just reminded myself there will undoubtedly be moments like this in France next year, (not alcohol induced I hope) so I just kept grinding away and was rewarded by some stunning views and a tailwind home.


From left to right – Ben, Bobo, Justin, Emma and Richard

As much as the Tour next year is occupying my thinking and planning, Emma and Bobo have already been thinking about how we will celebrate our 50th birthdays in a few years time. Apparently we are all off to “Hawaii 50”, kids get to stay at home but any other old school friends are more than welcome.

We also have plenty of time to decide where to go in Hawaii, I know there are some big volcanoes you can ride up, probably worth thinking about adding that to the itinerary for one or two of the travellers.

Posted in TDF

Fill Your Boots

One of the side effects of growing up is that you somehow become responsible. When I was growing up we used to have things called sweet shops, this will give you a clue to the generation I belong to. It was a treat to go for a visit and I could never understand how the adults could resist the urge to buy as many sweets as they wanted. I couldn’t fathom why the grown-ups around me with the money and the freedom to do what they liked, just didn’t fill their boots.


Teenager in Boots

A similar pattern emerges through adolescence. Whatever your indulgences there will be a point, in my case waking up with a terrible hangover, when you start to ponder if the excesses of the day before were really worth it. You ignore it, try again, then a short time later you have the terrifying realisation that you can’t really behave like this anymore and you have started to care about what the boss thinks. Now you are on the slippery slope to grown-up responsibility.

There are a few grown-ups who have somehow managed to avoid this slope of responsibility and are still behaving with the freedom and enthusiasm of a child with a $100 note in a sweet shop. For the majority or us, we have to wrestle with our conscience and our ability to see beyond the impulse for instant gratification and weigh up the long term impact. If I have that next drink, dessert or ride those extra km’s, what will be the implications?

Even if you do throw caution to the wind and go for it, you will often regret it the next day as you no longer back up like you used to. The road to recovery gets harder each time and unconsciously this modifies your behaviour, then one day you are quite happy to be the designated driver and drink fizzy water all night!

Mid-life is exactly what it says, you are in the middle of something, no longer young enough to behave with reckless abandon and you still have a significant time before you arrive at your final destination, old age.

Like many others I manage these forces in my life today and yet I still have this strong urge to just cut lose, to fill my boots, and jump into my passion without worry or justification.

So I have decided that this year I need to regress, to do exactly what I want and to create a life for the present and not worry about the future beyond 24th June 2017. For this is the day that I will start riding my bike on a 21 day charity cycling journey that will take me over the same Tour de France route that the pros will tackle, just one week ahead of them.

I love riding my bike, I have done for the last 5 years. Starting off as a complete novice I have thrown myself into riding greater distances, participating in sportive’s and traveling to various places in the world to ride.

Along the way I have become fitter, happier and more adventurous. Three years ago I rode with the Tour De Force who organise the tour for the William Wates Memorial Trust. I rode for 8 days through the French Alps and finished up in Paris. It was the closest you can get to being a pro, all you have to do is sleep, eat, bike, repeat.

blog-1-latteSince returning from that adventure Robyn, my lovely wife, has joined me in my cycling pursuits. We are well aware that we can come across as a bit of a cliché to some of our friends – married couple with teenage kids, spending quality time on bike rides, drinking lattes and wearing matching Lycra.

But bike riding is a little bit more for us, it has become part of who we are. We have spent a lot of time riding with each other over the last few years, completed some of the most challenging one day events here in Australia and have been thinking about bigger challenges.

blog-1-ben-and-robynSo we decided to jump in and sign up for next year’s Tour De Force. I will be riding all 21 stages and will be known as a “lifer”, we are still debating how many stages Robyn will do. We shall wait for the course route to be published but as a minimum Robyn will ride the last week of the tour, over whatever mountains they put in our way, and our reward will be that we get to ride into Paris together.

My Grand Depart is still over 270 days away as I write this, which should give us plenty of time to get organised. Given that we live in Australia and with everything else going on in our lives we have already started to plan. From a work perspective we will fit our training around our work commitments and combine the two. If we have to travel, the bikes come with us. Holidays have been planned around cycling adventures and training blocks. The kids will get to experience real independence and learn to look after themselves, unless they want to join us on the road.


A fundraising thank you for your donations

We are going to enjoy ourselves as we get ready for the Tour and along the way also raise some money for a great cause. We have been thinking about creative and innovative ways to fund raise and we have already put one into practice. Rest assured we will be asking for a donation from you all along the way and also hope to be able to offer something in return.

We will be recording our journey to the start line with regular blog updates and we have developed our own website to keep track of it all. Our media savvy teenagers also advise us that we have to have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts so we can develop a following. The accounts are in place, let the following begin.

You can check it all out at www.ratherberidingmybike.com and we look forward to sharing our bike indulgencies along the way.


Ben and Robyn

Posted in TDF