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Jul 27
juliet lemon profile photo - africa cycle - tour de t

5 nights, 4 days, 3 countries & one Lemon on a Tiger bike!

By julietlemon July 27 2016 - 10.47 PM

YES !!!  I am so excited to let you know that I will be embarking upon  an EPIC adventure  TOMORROW for which I am fundraising. So you are very, very welcome to DONATE to this wonderful charity for which I’m cycling : CHILDREN IN THE WILDERNESS (CITW) and of course do follow me on Instagram @Juiet_Lemon where I’ll be postings pics from the ride!

Those of you who are acquainted with me most certainly know that there are a handful of things that make me very, very happy.  They include Africa, photography, cycling, the colour orange as well as gin and tonic (not necessarily in that order!).   So I am absolutely THRILLED  to let you know that I will be taking part in one mega adventure that features all of my favourites – the Tour de Wilderness cycle ride in Africa.  This ride will be phenomenal >  5 NIGHTS, 4 DAYS, 3 COUNTRIES AND ONE VERY EXCITED LEMON ON HER SNAZZY TONY THE TIGER MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!

I will be one of 350 mountain bikers traversing 300 km of remote and challenging terrain in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa over 4 days.  The ride will be more like a two-wheeled safari and hopefully we will encounter lots of wildlife such as elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, antelope and perhaps even some lion or leopard!  The terrain we’ll be pedalling along is in the remote wilderness protected areas of the Tuli Block, the area where the three countries meet, and will be very varied: elephant and other wildlife trails, sand, stone ridges, streams and flowing rivers, dry river beds, riverine scrub, indigenous forest and open plains.   We cyclists will not only have the opportunity to see a parade of wildlife, but the route also includes magnificent scenery and cultural interactions with the local communities living on the boundaries of these protected areas.  The border crossings, fingers crossed, will run smoothly and along the way, we may pass some historic Bushman rock art sites and hopefully cycle past some Baobab trees – my favourite trees in the world!

In the evenings we’ll be camping under the African skies in beautiful wilderness locations with the fabulous Tour organisers, Wilderness Safaris, setting up all the tented accommodation for each night so we don’t have to ride with sleeping bags!  Of course the Tour follows very strict environmental practices and every camp site is left as it was originally found.

All funds raised by this ride go directly to Children in the Wilderness (CITW), a non-profit organisation that runs sustainable educational programmes for children in southern Africa.  The environmental and life skills educational programmes teach the children the importance of conservation and instil a passion for the environment so they become custodians of these areas in the future.  The children spend time in the Wilderness Safaris ecotourism camps and the programmes cover topics such as wildlife, conservation, health, HIV/AIDS awareness, nutrition, life skills, geography, geology, arts, crafts and  theatre.  Do look at their website to see all the incredible work they do:

Were the Tour not dedicated to a charitable cause that benefits community areas on the peripheries of the conservation areas, then no way would this ride take place so it really is an honour to be riding in remote wildlife areas.  Senior Government Officials as high up as the Honourable Ministers from all three countries oversee the organisation and will travel to the event to show their appreciation for the cyclists’ participation in what is being recognised as southern Africa’s premier mountain bike tour.

To fundraise for CITW I’ve been holding a couple of group and private 1-2-1 photography workshop in London this year with all proceeds going to CITW.  The most recent workshop was an Urban London Photography Workshop in and around the Brick Lane area in London.  Starting near Liverpool Street Station, we made our way to Spitalfields Market then over to the infamous Brick Lane.  I share my photography knowledge with the keen ‘togs, and teach them about their cameras helping them take amazing photos of these fun London locations.  I will be holding a few more photography workshops in London later on this year with one more Urban London session towards the end of August/beginning of September and then in the winter months some Night Photography Workshops.  So if you’re keen to attend then drop me a line and I’ll keep you posted on the dates.  If you haven’t or aren’t able to make any of the workshops, donations are very, very welcome and you can donate HERE.  I thank you so much in advance for your generosity and know that the money you donate will help CITW make such an incredible difference to the lives of so many children.

Having no previous knowledge about the MTB world prior to entering this ride, I assumed that I could pick up a decent MTB for a couple of hundred pounds, which you can do, but a bike in that price range would not be at all suitable for this event.  The Tour organisers advised me on the type of bike needed and that I was looking at a couple of thousand pounds instead of a couple of hundred – EEEEEEK!  Fortunately, the incredible team at Putney Cycles managed to pull a few strings with one of their suppliers, Giant, and they sorted me out with a brand new mountain bike, a Liv Intrigue 2 (2016).  Over the moon about the new wheels, however, there was something that I actually wasn’t too happy about and that was the colour of the bike… purple and pink.  For those of you who know me, you will agree that I am not a ‘pink’ kinda girl because it just doesn’t work with my skin tone; my colour palette is autumnal – sorry if this is all sounding really bimbo-like, but colour is very important to me!  I then came up with a crazy idea of how I could fix this little colour glitch – by turning the bike into a tiger of course!  Tiger print would look way better than pink and purple and it would make me so much happier!  I did feel a little like a crazy person harping on about a tiger bike but Putney Cycles  were as supportive and encouraging as always and said it was a fab idea, so the next hurdle was to find a way to make it happen.  Fortunately I was introduced to the super Tom who runs Calm and Ready and he said that he could vinyl-wrap my MTB in tiger print ‘easy peasy’, which was music to my ears because I’d tried several other companies that said they couldn’t do it!  Tom designed the perfect print with the most incredible attention to detail, from how the stripes could line up whilst taking the intricate contours of the frame into consideration, right through to the shading of the range to make it look as realistic as possible.  I left the Liv Intrigue 2 bike with Tom and the Calm and Ready team and five days later Tony the Tiger bike was born!  I’m sure you will agree with me he looks absolutely incredible and even better than I ever thought possible – thank you so much Tom and your Calm and Ready team, I am chuffed beyond belief and love my tiger wheels so very much!

Getting Tony ready for the Tour all happened thanks to Putney Cycles, which is run by the most incredible team.  Barry, Jon, Dai, Will and Chris thank you all so very much for your time, advice and expert guidance for my Africa ride preparation.  Sharing essential riding tips and always helping me with such enthusiasm, even when I’m asking exceptionally dim questions, nothing has been too much fuss or bother, arranging for those two derailleur hangers to be at your shop for me to pick up en route to the airport, you guys are truly the best and if anyone is ever in need of a super bike shop in London, Putney Cycles is the place to go!!!

I’ve really got stuck into road cycling in last few years, and with Richmond Park in Surrey being close by, it truly is a delight to ride around this urban oasis early in the morning or late in the evening.  I’ve competed in a few UK based events including the London Ride 100 a couple of times, London to Brighton, London to Wales, further afield with mountain training in Germany, and The Argus in Cape Town, which really is such a spectacular ride.  However, the world of mountain biking and off-roading is very, very new to me and I have been surprised at how different it is.  With road cycling you have skinny, sleek tyres, smooth road surfaces (most of the time!) and the main objects to avoid are pedestrians, potholes, drain covers, vehicles and central reservations.  Mountain biking is a whole different kettle of fish; there are so many more factors to take into consideration, from the dramatically varying and challenging terrain to the constantly changing gradients, the bike’s suspension is set up to all the different gears and accessories needed.  I’ve been practising as much as possible back home on my new MTB wheels in preparation for the Tour de Wilderness.  Evening laps of the perimeter of Richmond Park on the designated off-road biking trails (I quickly learnt that cycling off those trails could lead to a £60 fine from the park police – fortunately the officers I encountered informed me instead of fining me!) have been good with some really sandy patches as well as rides in the Surrey Hills at Newlands Corner and Holmbury Hill – a big thanks to my MTB cycle buddy Simon for being a blast to ride with and I really enjoyed the post-ride hydration in the form of gin and tonics!

Training for this ride started back in January.  I already had a decent level of fitness having regularly attended weekly spin classes at the gym and participated in the various endurance road race events over the past 2 years. Fortunately, I am very active in my work, constantly lugging heavy camera gear around for photo shoots.  However, I was aware that the demands of this race were different from anything I had done before.  I had the endurance necessary but the challenges of the sandy terrain in the Tour de Wilderness ride required strength and power so I enlisted the help of an incredible personal trainer, Ross, whose specialist field is Olympic weight lifting.  Since the beginning of the year he has been training me on a weekly basis, showing me the wonderful world of weights, coaching me through a whole variety of weight lifting techniques from Russian Dead Lifts to bench presses, kettle bells and dumbbells, squats and snatches.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing the progress made from my time training with Ross, in spin class and out on the bike. I feel stronger, my ride speed has increased and with the gradual increments in the weight I lift each session and I’m super-chuffed to be able to dead lift 5kg shy of my body weight.  I’d never really thought about incorporating weights into my gym time or having a personal trainer before, but now I couldn’t imagine my life without either!  Each session has been so much fun.  I’ve learnt loads and it really is great to be challenged and pushed, although I’m sure Ross would beg to differ, with my language during some of the exercises not always reflecting this!

Another element to my training has been regularly attending reformer Pilates sessions at The Pilates Clinic in Wimbledon.  These classes have been a very welcome change of tempo from the high-impact exercising I do in the spin classes and personal training weight sessions.  Pilates has been such a wonderful way to complement cycling,  affording super results of increased flexibility, key muscle strengthening for those essential cycling movements, core strengthening and effective muscle engagement when on the bike.  All the classes have been so much fun and really challenging and if you haven’t done reformer Pilates before I would highly recommend you give it a go!

Keen to ensure that I was on track with my endurance, I rode in the 100 mile Telegraph London Sportive ride at the beginning of July.  The ride went well and it was nice and hilly incorporating some great climbs in the Crystal Palace area and then all the joys of the gradients in the Surrey Hills.  The infamous Box Hill was 80 miles into the ride and just as I found in the London ride 100, it wasn’t that tough, it was just long!  However, I did encounter a bit of a problem during this 100 miler.  I’d had new cleats attached to the bottom of my cycling shoes because the old ones were almost worn out.  However, the angle on the left shoe was slightly out of alignment and over the long distance was enough to cause a problem to my ankle.  I did notice a bit of a pain whilst riding about 40 miles in but put it down to a general ache.  It was only the next day that I realised that this misalignment had strained the tendons and ligaments around my left ankle.  For two weeks rest replaced training which was incredibly frustrating but much needed. I also had a few big photo shoots to do in that time which didn’t help.  Fortunately the ankle did heal and I was able to resume training for the last week before my departure to Africa and so far it hasn’t given me grief.  So fingers crossed it is all fine and will hold for the Tour ride.

Focus hasn’t just been on the physical exercise side of things. Nutrition for an endurance performance event like this is essential so I’ve been working with two superb nutritionist since the start of the year, the super Ryre at Move Nourish Change and the beyond knowledgeable May at DN-A.  From working with them I have learnt so much about what to eat and when to eat it, because when you’re in the saddle for hours at a time on consecutive days, exerting so much energy, it is imperative to keep your body sufficiently fuelled and thanks to these two professionals I am all sorted!

Having the right gear for an adventure like this is key and I am so grateful to have worked with these brilliant companies and suppliers who played a pivotal role in getting me all set for the Tour.

Putney Cycles:  I’ll be the first one to admit that I am quite clueless when it comes to bike mechanics and bike gear, so I outsourced everything to Putney Cycles.  With their expert advice and guidance they compiled a comprehensive set of spares to take with me.  For any clued-up bike geeks, here is the list of the spares: 2 x spare tyres, folding Continental X-Kings, in a 2.2″, 27.5”, fast, grippy and light – 2 x derailleur hangers – a multitool with a chain breaker – a Phillips screwdriver to remove the caps on the gear shifters – tyre levers – CO2 inflators, with which I’ve had a bit of a nightmare flying in the past, so purchased them in South Africa – a Topeak Turbo Morph pump – spare chain links – a spare chain – 3 spare gear cables, belt and braces – water bottle cages – a can of Clean Streak and some Finish Line dry lube for the chain – brake pads – gel saddle –   tire gaiter, which can be used to fix a tire – multi tool & cable tie – spare sealant, spare tubes and plugs – multi tool and cable ties – spare cleats – ziplock bags – chamois cream – spare gear cables.

Peak Design:  I am so fortunate to be a Peak Design Pro and these are the amazing guys who sponsor my photography by providing me with the best camera gear in the world.   ALL photographers out there, from amateur to professionals, ALL need Peak Design gear in their lives!  I am totally in love with my Everyday Messenger bags, of which I have two, and have been able to bring both to Africa with me on this trip – gotta love the British Airways 2 pieces of hand luggage allowance!  When the Peak Design team found out about my Tour de Wilderness ride they insisted that I have the right gear to take.  When they learned that I was unable to ride with Canon 5D mkIII and L Series lenses because they were way too heavy, they sorted out a Leica D-Lux to take instead.  Of course I have a Peak Design Anchor, Cuff ad Pro Plate attached to the camera so it connects with the Capture Clip which will be on my Jack Wolfskin bag.

Jack Wolfskin: Yes this ride is going to be one heck of an adventure and it will be challenging.  Cycling for four consecutive days in the African heat in the wilderness, keeping hydrated is imperative.  My wonderful friend, Chemmy Alcott, yes the super Olympian skier, kindly connected me with the Jack Wolfskin team, who have been kind enough to supply me with a CamelBak Speed Liner 7.5 Bike Backpack and two Hydration Systems 2.0 so that I can carry my water supply.  The Tour organisers Wilderness Safaris do provide water stations for the first three days, but due to an import ban on bringing in water in 25 litre containers for the day’s cycle in Zimbabwe there will be minimal water available. Thanks to my CamelBak I will be able to cycle with sufficient supplies.  Looking ahead to life after the ride, I’m already excited about seeing if the hydration system will work for gin and tonic!

The Jack Wolfskin team have been such a pleasure to deal with and I am honoured to be supported by them especially because I have loved Jack Wolfskin since I was little.  I had a Jack Wolfskin rucksack as my school bag and thought (and still do) that the ‘PAW’ logo is brill.  Also, my mother being a German/MFL teacher (sadly I speak just a little German and am more fluent in French and Spanish!) always raved about the superior quality of Jack Wolfskin products, so I am absolutely honoured to be riding with this CamelBak in AFRICA!!!  Before the departure for the ride they emailed me a lovely message “We wish you all the best for the race. The Jack Wolfskin paws are all crossed for you!” – Isn’t that so nice!!!

Putney Cycles packed up Tony into my bike box and British Airways got him here safely to Johannesburg, from where I went straight to The Bicycle Service Company in Sandton.  There, the delightful Danny and Roger were ever so welcoming and let me take up a little corner of their workshop and make it my office whilst they assembled Tony and got him all set up and ride-ready.  It was super spending a few hours with them talking bikes because of their wealth of MTB riding experience in Africa.  They were able to share loads of ride information which I know will prove invaluable for the ride.  Thank you so much to you both, it was fab to hang out with you for the afternoon!

It is quite surreal to sit here and write up what I’ve been up to for the past 7 months and I really can’t believe that the Tour de Wilderess ride starts TOMORROW!  The only things I need to get done this afternoon are getting some cash out to pay for my visa at the Zimbabwean border and  buying some thermal socks and a hot water bottle. It’s winter here in Africa and as I will be camping in the bush it will be rather nippy in the wilderness!

Tony the Tiger bike and I are so excited to be getting stuck into this adventure that promises to be very challenging and extremely exhilarating.  Right now it feels like I’m at the ‘calm before the storm’ stage where the realisation of what I’ve been planning for the last 7 months has come together. During this short-lived ‘calm’ phase I have been able to take stock of how far I have come and how everything has fallen in place.  By no means have I pulled all this together by myself! I have had the support of the most, incredibly enthusiastic people, who are so knowledge in their fields, and I am eternally grateful for all their help and for the fact that no one has said ‘NO’ to me!!!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your wise words, productiveness, positivity and encouragement.  It has meant the absolute world to me and I intend to make you and all you lovely people who have so kindly and generously donated to CITW, so very proud of Tony and me in this African adventure!!! xxx

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A big HELLO and thanks for having a peek at the blog! So a little bit about me.........well I absolutely love the wonderful world of photography. I'm lucky enough to work with great people and at each shoot make sure that we have fun whilst getting great photos. I'm based in the UK where I photograph a lot of weddings and lifestyle shoots but also get to travel to far flung destination for a spot of travel, wildlife and car photography. I'm a Licentiate of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers as well as a Licentiate of International Nature & Wildlife Photographers and have won awards for my photography. My work has been published in national newspapers, wedding magazines, travel guide books, blogs and wildlife publications. My favourite colour is orange!
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