TW Relay Team: Dominique’s Bike Blog #5

I write this latest instalment after tucking into the largest plate of carbohydrates I've devoured since half-marathon training. If there was any more food in my cupboard I could easily keep going, like a pasta-crazed version of the Honey Monster.

Why such an appetite surge? Well, today I decided to do a spot of 'over-distance' training and it appears I don't do things by halves. Currently every muscle in my body is crying out after a 26-mile journey through South London on a typically wet summer's day.

Today's hardcore session had several purposes. Firstly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete the distance with ease on August 6. Secondly, I wanted to pick up some much-needed road skills by closely following a cycling enthusiast friend. Thirdly, I wanted to prove that I could push hard come rain or shine - or rain and yet more rain in this case.

Starting in Peckham we made our way through Crystal Palace, Beckenham, Croydon and almost out to the M25 before heading back.

All the training I've put in over the last few months stood me in good stead to stay at a decent pace over an undulating route for the first two hours. However, the last half an hour turned my legs to jelly and I had to admit defeat on the final few hills. Even so, those last 30 minutes may have proved my proudest yet - I now know I can tough it out even when my legs are waving a white flag from their lactic acid levels.

My testing ride came on the back of a tough week of training. I ticked off two 40-minute gym-based cycling sessions, two road sessions and ran in two 5K races (the Boutique Run and The Standard Chartered Great City Race). Plus, I was one of the lucky few journalists to test out the PowerBIKE just a week after its launch in the shops. More on that to follow in the next blog...

Just as my legs are getting strengthened in the buildup to our relay, so is my confidence as a bona-fide cyclist in London. I'm  getting used to the roads and my lightweight Genesis Equilbrium 10. I've also booked a free Cycle Confident course for safety's sake. You can sign up for free training courses if you live or work in Westminster or Newham - and there are plenty more subsidised cycling schemes across the UK.

I'm even getting to grips with cycling gear. I've swapped my Continental Ultra Race tyres for more puncture resistant Halo Twin Rail tyres (in pink!), so I can really rack up miles on London's roads. I've made friends with the owner of the local bike shop and this weekend I'll be investing in a bike bottle holder, a spare inner tube and a floor pump. My lounge is growing an increasingly large shrine in the corner devoted to cycling paraphernalia.

If you haven't guessed by now, I've been bitten by the cycling bug. After today's long session, I'm already itching to get away from the city and be zipping along open countryside lanes once again, or at least as soon as the aches wear off.  Once our relay is over, I'm already determined to set myself a new cycling challenge. Any suggestions?