Hotchillee

EVENTS

Riding the LONDON-PARIS in Group 5? Ride Captain Top Tips

Group 5: Michelle Sharland 

Michelle had been involved and riding with Hotchillee for a number of years before taking part in the Cape Rouleur in 2015.

Her solid and consistent riding got her noticed and she was asked to join the Ride Captain squad in 2017.

She has ridden the Cape Rouleur as a Ride Captain in 2019 and 2020 and London to Paris in 2018 and 2019, in Groups 5 and 3.

Hotchillee Ride Captain Michelle Sharland

What’s the Ride Captains’ role on the road?

Bloody hard work! Safety of all the riders in the group is always our first concern and that includes positioning on the road, keeping the group rolling smoothly and even reminding people to eat and drink regularly. The last is a genuine safety issue as it’s when riders start running low on fuel that they tend to lose focus and make mistakes. We’re also nurturing and encouraging but, if necessary, firm too. 

Describe the Group 5 experience in a single sentence

Amazing! Everyone will have highs and lows but the support and camaraderie in the group will be superb and I guarantee the sense of achievement at the end will be immense. 

What average speed will Group 5 be aiming for?

23 kph 

That’s a bit faster than I manage on my own, should I be worried?

Not necessarily as there will be a benefit to riding in a group but it’s not a magic speed bullet and, especially for rides up to 100km or so, you want to be getting pretty close to that average speed on your own. 

On the event, you’ll probably find that you’ll either feel as though you’re riding a bit faster than you would on your own or, quite often, it’ll feel slower. Don’t worry about this, the Ride Captains know what they’re doing, are managing the pace and will get you to Paris. 

How important are group riding skills and how can I learn them?

Really important. We won’t have time to learn this on the event so the more time you can spend riding in a group, getting used to following a wheel and being comfortable eating and drinking while riding next to someone, the better. I’d really urge you to come along to our monthly rides for this reason. 

I can’t emphasise how important being able to eat and drink on the move is. We’ll only typically have three scheduled stops and three sips of your bottle and three snacks won’t fuel your ride. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchilleehandbook-group-riding-tips/ 

Any big faux-pas that will put me on the wrong side of the Ride Captains?

If you’re riding next to me, do not half wheel me (constantly edging in front – ed). Don’t cross the white line in the road, don’t stop or slow down unnecessarily and don’t think for yourself – we make all important decisions for you. 

What training milestones should I have ticked off beforehand?

Make sure you get your long rides in – as much for practicing fuelling etc as for fitness and do some back to back days. Even if you’re not following the training plan linked below, cross reference your preparation to it and check you’re where you should be. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/no-nonsense-london-paris-training-plan/ 

London-Paris by Tour de France Peloton

What happens if I’m struggling to keep up?

We’ll give riders the odd helping hand to crest a hill but we can’t push you all the way to Paris. If you’re consistently struggling to hold the pace and leaving gaps, we will put you in a vehicle for a break and then you can re-join the group. 

What happens if I have a puncture or mechanical will I be left to fend for myself?

No but it’ll probably mean some time in a vehicle while the mechanic sorts it out for you. You can really help to mitigate against this happening by having a full service and fitting new tyres before the event and getting into the habit of giving your bike a brief pre and post ride check each day. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-bike-maintenance/ 

How important is on the bike nutrition?

As I’ve already said, it’s key and one of the main things that’ll make a difference to whether you make it to Paris under your own steam or not. You need to be eating and drinking little and often right from the start of each day, not waiting until you get hungry or thirsty.

Practice this in training. If you struggle getting bars out of your jersey pockets and unwrapping them while riding, get a seat-tube bag/box and put pre-unwrapped and cut up bars in it. Don’t hesitate if necessary to ask a Ride Captain to unwrap a bar for you – we’d much prefer that than you not eating. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-top-ten-cycling-nutrition-tips/ 

What’s happens post-ride each day on London to Paris?

Prioritise hydration, re-fuelling, some stretching and sleep. It can be tempting to over-indulge socially but it will impact your ability to ride the next day so, save the celebrations for Paris. 

https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchillee-handbook-rest-and-recuperation/ 

Any tips on kit and clothing?

Take any unnecessary weight off your bike – you don’t need mudguards, pannier racks etc. New bib shorts and plenty of chamois cream.

Why join Group 5?

It’s where the party is and, in terms of time on your bike, it’s the best value for money group!

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