They did it, two women with a love of tea cycled on a tandem from one end of the country to the other. We caught up with the achy legged ladies to find out how they got on.
Do you think you were fully prepared for the journeys events?
We think there’s only so much you can prepare for! We had trained and felt fit and healthy, but nothing can prepare your body and mental strength for 12 solid days of cycling through wind, rain, shine and midge swarms! We weren’t endurance cyclists, so it was always going to be a big leap for us to suddenly cycle 1,000 miles and scale more hill climbs than the height of Everest! But we proved we were strong enough to push through, even though we had the worst weather the Highlands have had on record!
Your last day was one to remember. What happened?
Our final day started so incredibly! We arrived at the start point for the day and were greeted by Amanda’s best friend Lucy and her fiancé Jules, clad in leather and astride their amazing motorbikes! After trying to convince them to swap their bikes for ours, we pulled out of Bodmin to blaring music, flanked by two super cool bikers. We felt like rock stars! But 15 miles in, the weatherman had different plans for us. As it started to drizzle, the winding country roads became like an ice rink and within a split second we went from two confident tandemers, to a crumpled heap on the floor. We think we might have caught a small stone, and when that front wheel goes from under you, there is nothing you can do to counter the weight and fall of a heavy vintage tandem and her two riders. We were badly hurt, Amanda taking the brunt of the fall with the bike landing on her ribs, both of us hitting our heads, sustaining big grazes on our legs and getting a big shock! We called for our support guys to give us some roadside first aid, and after a while of calming down and warming up, we tentatively got back on the road. Babs was in a bit of a state too, battered and bruised with half a back pedal missing, but we all only had 50 miles left to go which, at that point, felt like a thousand all over again.
We were nervous and had the lost the confidence we had accumulated over the past 11 days. For the first time we were cautiously taking the downhills at a slow pace, whereas before it was as if we were on the free fall at the top of Nemesis at Alton Towers, bombing downhill, calling out with excitement as if Hanson had just made an appearance at our 13th birthday party.
So, our progress was slow, but we were pushing through the miles. It was a blooming hilly day so as lunch time approached, we were desperate for the break. And a pasty. Also, both our mums were there to give us a cuddle, a cup of tea and fresh bandages. Jecca's mum made us cry like school kids as she sprayed our sore bits with antiseptic. What a sight we were, two grown women sobbing, dirty, covered in cuts and scrapes, clutching half eaten pasties. Once again, we forced ourselves back on the road, this time with full bellies and a bit more confidence in our hearts. We sang and chatted at we skimmed along the coast of Cornwall during our final couple of hours, stopping only to take pictures, have water and, 5 miles before the end, give our bags to the support guys so as we rode to the finish line our charity t-shirts were fully on-show. The last 5 miles were a record. We absolutely flew! We were so happy to be finishing, in utter disbelief that we'd actually done it and in so much pain that the nearer the finish line got, the more happy-hurt-exhausted tears came flooding. We arrived at the finish line to a crowd of all our loved ones waving banners, cheering and joining us in our proud crying. We hugged; best friends, adventurers, tandemers, charity fundraisers. The captain and the stoker, or in our case, the driver and the turbo.
How did you find the motivation and courage to get back on Babs?
There was no other option. We'd done over 11 days, cycled the length of the UK and we couldn't fail at the last obstacle. It was hard, we were both nervous, Amanda more so as she was in charge of steering, but we did it. Just as we overcame every other challenge we faced. It wasn't easy, we took it slow, but we dug deep for the last bit of fight left in us and told Babs she only had 50 miles left to get us through, then she could have a long break!
If you had your time again what would you change?
Hindsight is a beautiful thing! We had so many problems with Babs, but even during the ride we still loved her! The fact that she was old and heavy and caused a lot of problems, just made our adventure what it was. Without the heavy, old tandem, without the worst winds on record in Scotland, without the random routes making us carry Babs over footbridges and push her through fields, without the crash, it just wouldn't have been our adventure.
We maintain, although we had the head wind, we chose the right way for us, going Scotland down. We may have been wrong thinking it would be downhill.... But it meant we got the lonely bit done first and then cycled in to civilisation as the ride went on, ending with all our family there.
So, maybe we wouldn't actually change anything..... Except having face masks for the midges in Scotland, they were rank!
It was great to see you rocking the Sundried gear across your travels, how did you find it?
The Sundried gear was amazing! After a day in, normally wet and cold, cycling gear, the first thing we did at the end of the day was to shower (when possible!) and change into our super comfy Sundried outfits. We trained in it before the ride and are still living in it now! Our Sundried bottles also came on every mile and were attached to Babs with our well needed electrolyte water every day! You guys provided our hydration and our comfort and for that we are eternally grateful!
How much money have you raised and can people still donate?
So far we've raised an incredible £5,000 across both Parkinson's UK and Breast Cancer Care. We're so over the moon, but of course would still love to raise more! Our JustGiving page is still up and running- www.justgiving.com/teams/GBTTT
What are you doing for your recovery?
Sleep and rest and physio. And apparently still consuming like we're burning 5,000 calories a day! We were both left with different aches and pains, Jecca got tendinitis in her right knee so has been having Physio for that and trying to regain strength whereas Amanda had more injuries from the crash, such as bruised ribs and really bad grazes which need to heal before she can do much training. During the ride we were getting around 7 or 8 hours sleep a night, which isn't a lot when you're on a bike for 10 hours a day, so we really caught up on a sleep afterwards! Our bodies almost went into shut down and we had a really big come down leaving us feeling pretty lethargic and low. We pushed through with tea, cake and friends but we've definitely got a tandem adventure shaped hole in our lives. It's difficult going back to normality after such an incredible 12 day adventure, where every day we woke up knowing exactly what we needed to achieve that day and we'd do it together no matter what got thrown at us, and that we were doing it for all the right reasons.
What are your top tips for anyone looking to do their first long distance ride?
Just do it! Don't listen to anyone who says you aren't prepared or fit enough, or that you're going the wrong way or your bike is too old! If you believe you can do it then you will. It's an incredible way to see the world and it's definitely given us the cycling bug. Do your research (read our blog!), pack the right stuff, plan the right amount of miles and hill climbs each day and don't let the rain or wind or midges get you down.
Also, buy really good chamis cream…
So they made it back in one peice, Babs and all.Congratulations girls.
2 girls, a tandem named Babs and 1000 miles. Sounds like Amanda and Jecca are in for a trip and a half. These two not-quite-30 year old best friends have set themselves a challenge of tyres and tea. We spoke to the girls and let me tell you, they seem as crazy as the challenge!
What is the Tandem Tea Tour?
The 'Tandem Tea Tour' is an epic charity adventure! 2 girls, 1 tandem and 1000 miles! Amanda and Jessica will be tandeming from John O' Groats to Land's End raising money for Parkinson's UK and Breast Cancer Care. Each day they will be blogging about all the best places they find to stop for a well earned cuppa and cake, so you too can hop on a bike and head for cake!
How long have you girls been friends… let’s do a mini journey of your friendship shall we, how’d you meet etc..?
We are both actresses and met on a job over 3 years ago. Our main work is in the crazy, Lycra-clad world of Motion Capture where we perform in video Games, television and film. We've been lucky to work with each other a lot on various cool projects, but the Tandem Tea Tour is by far our biggest challenge yet!
How did you get started on the Tandem?
We came up with the crazy idea of doing the ride on a tandem long before we'd ever got on one! By the time we'd purchased a tandem and given it a go (and realised how much more difficult it is!) it was far too late to back out! Our tandem is pre-loved and has already been from the north to south of France with its previous owner who, fantastically, gave us our first tandem crash course upon purchase!
Do you ever secretly just give up and let the other one do all the work?
Our tandem (Babs) is the same height front and back, meaning we can switch around throughout the tour, which is lucky because it's so much harder at the front! Both of us will have to resist the temptation to sit back and relax on the back seat because we wouldn't want the other person doing that when we're the other way around!
What are you looking forward to the most about the tour?
We're going to get the chance to see incredible bits of the UK in a way we wouldn't ever otherwise. Driving through places is too fast, walking would take faaaar too long, cycling is just right! We're under no illusions that it's not going to be tough, but we're looking forward to pushing our bodies and our fitness and determination in ways we've never done before. This is by far the biggest, longest and toughest thing either of us we've ever done, and we're looking forward to supporting (and forcing) each other through it.
What are you dreading most?
The hills! We've been told that in total we will be climbing the equivalent of 2 of Everest! Hills are hard work on a normal bike, but on a heavy tandem, they can be near on impossible. There will be times where we don't think we can physically carry on, but that's when our grit and determination will get us though. Also knowing there's cake along the way helps.
Where’s the best Tandem ride you’ve done so far… and where’s had the best tea?
We haven't done any long tandem rides yet, which is pretty scary! Babs (the tandem) is getting a full service and make over by Makersville who are kitting her out with new, top of the range brakes and gears etc. As soon as she's done, we'll be getting her out every day!
As for the tea, there are so many places we love! We always pass by Gail's in Hampstead because it's local. We love Saint Espresso and quirky individual coffee houses like them and are super excited to be tasting the best tea we can find on our route!
Why did you pick to raise money for breast cancer and Parkinson's UK?
They are two charities very close to our hearts. Amanda's mum is a Breast Cancer survivor and Jessica's Father-in-Law was diagnosed with Parkinson's last year. They are two devastating illnesses not only for the person fighting it, but the family and friends around them too. There is little two girls can do to help fight these illnesses, but there's amazing research continuing every day for both and we all need to keep raising money, in the hope that cures can be found as soon as possible.
What recovery have you got planned?
Massage, Physio, osteopathy and a long bath! As painful as it will be, we'll be taking our massage balls and doing our best to look after our bodies during the ride, but, inevitably, it's going to take its toll. We have an amazing Physio/osteo Ash at Precision Wellbeing who is doing all he can in the lead up and is prepped for fixing us on our return!
Will there be a Tandem Tea Tour 2.0?
We've already been discussing where we'd like to take Babs next! But we think we should get the first tour done first before we agree to anything else!
What’s your favourite piece in the Sundried collection?
We love the whole collection! The leggings and tank tops are absolutely perfect for training.
Any training tips for tandem newbies?
Just don't give up too soon and believe people when they tell you it's nothing like riding a bike! Hold on tight, stay strong and allow any frustrations to wash over you! Oh and get a little bit of practice before attempting to do 1000 miles!
Well, they’re used to their lycra and it sounds like they’re every bit crazy enough to smash this challenge. Good luck girls. Sundried will be supporting the girls throughout their challenge providing them with premium ethical activewear and as much publicity as we can.
Visit the Tandem Tea Tour website here:
Visit their Justgiving page here:
Can you squeeze out 30 body-weight squats? If you would like to run or cycle faster, build tone, chucking in a few sets of squats to your daily routine will have an enormous benefit.
Developing more power in your thighs will benefit most sporting activities. It is a quick way to raise your heart rate. It is really easy to get ‘the burn’. But why do so many people shy away from squats?
Watch any preschool child playing and a seated squat is so effortless for them. We start to lose the ability to sit in a squat once we go to school and move into the classroom, starting to sit at desks. By high-school a seated squat is something only the ‘sporty’ kids can do. Once you leave your teens it is something hardly anyone can do. And it gets harder as you get older and spend more of your life sitting down.
A seated squat takes a fairly healthy adult a few months to reach a minute and in the process you get all the benefits of developing power, tone, speed.
Supporting the squat with a table leg or door handle is a great way you can practice at home or in your office when no one is looking. Make sure you pick something sturdy to use to support your bodyweight.We will be bringing you a training plan to incorporate into your daily routine soon, but for now start with bodyweight squats. Keep your back straight and go as low as you can.