Matt Barbet, Prince’s Trust Ambassador and TV Presenter, tells us about his love of cycling, why he’s signed up for Palace to Palace and his top tips for taking on a challenge.
There are a number of things about cycling which I just love – such as being outdoors, the thrill of it and testing your endurance. This is why I’ve signed up to take part in Palace to Palace for the first time, which I’m very excited about!
The route also gives you the chance to ride through some of the most scenic parts of London with no traffic - what’s not to like? I’ve also chosen the Ultra 90 mile route because I like to push myself.
For the past seven and a half years I’ve lived in Stoke Newington, in Hackney, so I mostly do road cycling. I often rack up around 120 miles in the saddle every week. I’m also a bit of a geek about collecting cycling paraphernalia, something which my wife really loves (she hates it).
I’ve previously completed the punishing cycling race, L’Etape du Tour in the French Alps - which covers the same route as a Tour De France stage - so I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike for another challenge, and raising awareness of The Prince’s Trust.
For anyone thinking about taking part in Palace to Palace, here are my top tips to help you prepare:
- Team up with someone - I like to push myself when I'm training for a big ride, but it's not always easy on your own. If you ride with at least one other friend, you've got someone you can compete against, and it makes it much more fun.
- Rest is as important as training - going out and running or riding everyday will just result in fatigue. Splitting up training days with a rest day, or even a different kind of exercise like swimming, will help you recover for the next session.
- Don’t let the weather put you off - If you're scheduled to train, but the weather isn't great, try not to think about it too much and just get out there. Make sure you're dressed properly for the elements, and once you're underway, it's never as bad as you think - and you can feel even more of a hero when you get back!
- Log your training - use an app like Strava or MapMyRide. I love seeing how far I've been and how quickly I've gone, to compare it to previous efforts. When you see progress in terms of distance or number of hours you've trained in a week, it can be really motivating.
- Variety is key - I first tackled the London Marathon in 2010, and didn't have much of a focus in training, other than pile on the miles. I think the repetitiveness and lack of recovery caused me injury. This year, I ran three times a week, at different intensities and for varying distances, and also cycled twice a week. The two are mutually beneficial, but don't stress the same muscles, and so it meant I ran it 49 minutes quicker than before.
- Eat healthily, but it’s okay to have treats - I try to eat healthily, but if you’re exercising five days out of seven, your appetite grows a lot. I haven’t lost any weight! Immediately after a run, I don’t have much of an appetite. After a big ride of, say, more than a hundred miles I’m famished. Cake is a big part of cycling, as it’s considered bona fide fuel, even by friends who are pro racers, so it’s nice to eat a big slice guilt-free.
- Feel the burn and love it! - This what a friend said to me (whilst laughing) before I did my first London marathon in 2010. It’s a ridiculous phrase, but when I find the going getting tougher, it makes me think of him saying that and I smile. Also, there’s a weird thing in cycling where riders seek glory through suffering. Pushing yourself and your bike up the mountain, and not giving in. I love that idea, of not being beaten.