A few G&Ts led to a 190 mile ride to Paris
I have always enjoyed training but as I got older and following 3 knee operations and 1 back operation, I was no longer able to play competitive sport or run anything more than 5km.
I enjoyed a few spin classes and a weekend bike ride in sunny weather to the nearest café for a cake but that was the extent of it. Having always been competitive and loving a challenge I decided I needed something new to aim for and after a few gins with a friend, who competes in Ironman triathlon events, I signed up to cycle from London to Paris (190 miles with Challenge Central) to give me something to aim for.
The most positive thing I have experienced since I started cycling is the ability to compete again and create mini challenges for myself which I find rewarding. Aiming for distance, for speed, beating my own previous records or even, when I spot someone in the distance, seeing if I can catch them.
Ditching Beacon (South Downs) is the most challenging ride I've ever ridden! I knew it was long, I knew it was steep and I knew I was totally capable of doing it as long as I paced myself. In the 10 miles leading up to it I was feeling great so why wouldn’t I try to go flat out…... I got to Ditching (1 mile – 16% gradient) and in the words of my friend ‘took off like a bat out of hell’.
I nailed 0.8 miles, then my heart rate hit 181, I thought I might see my lunch again and with nothing in my legs I had to stop. I sat on the verge, had some water, had a finger of kit kat, manned up and finished it. 7.7mph average!! Pretty good for a novice.
A little piece of advice
I'm sure everyone has heard or even seen for themselves cleat (clip) based horror stories. But my advice is to use cleats and don’t be scared. It's not as hard as you think. It took me ages to believe but not long at all to master. if you are ever unsure if you might need to stop, take your foot out in good time, you can still pedal with only 1 foot clipped in! Cleats.