That Cycling Challenge…

You may recall I blogged back at the beginning of April about a cycling challenge I was committing to in order to raise funds for Action Medical Research. Well it all happened and the whole experience was definitely worth writing about. Not only about the experience, but also the parallels I drew from running my own business.

Have to go back to February when training started, after a potent cold, but itching to get back on my bike! As the weekends were the only real opportunities to do any distance, we started with a 30 miler, which was sort of within my capabilities then. I say ‘we’, my partner and I took the opportunity to go out together, where he helped pace me and initially take some of the hard work out of cycling into cold head winds. Each weekend, we would increase the distances… 36, 51, 55, 62, 71, and finally an 82. Some of these weeks, we would do a similar distance two weeks running, before increasing. During the week, would try and get out when I could and keep the legs turning and would be anywhere between 10 and 30 miles.

During this time, in addition to dealing with cold temperatures and blustery winter winds, we were chased by a St Bernard dog and had to turn on the pace very quickly! I fell off one day after mis-judging a junction and not getting out of my cleats in time, but mortified to find I’d holed a brand new pair of cycling tights (doh!). Managed to get rather dehydrated on the 80 miler and half way round was wondering if I would get home. Fortunately after stopping in Elmswell and buying water and lucozade sport, managed to get enough energy back to finish. Also discovered when tired, how much I wanted to curse my (lovely partner) personal trainer and warned him to ignore me if I did!!

Lessons learned!!

However, further lessons had to be covered in how to remove both front and back wheels to repair road side punctures, which did happen on one of my training rides.

Also learned how to feed myself along the way. It was no fun in eating too much at a fuel stop and then feeling very sick on the first hill after setting out again! Recovery drinks and food once you’ve finished, plus stretching exercises, are all important to help your energy levels afterwards.

An unexpected occurrence was that the distance rides interrupted my sleep at night… not what you think really, so tiredness was a factor to endure to also keep working.

Yes there was the feeling of incredible well being the day after, so it kind of balanced itself out. So fitness increased and so did my average speed 🙂 Was taught how to keep the cadence going and how to attack and handle hills. Oh believe me, Suffolk has hills! It might not be quite the Lake District, but still!

So challenge day was with us on May 10th – up at 5am to get ready and down to Framlingham College, in time to sign in and register and get ready to leave in one of the early waves at 7.30am. There were three different distances people had signed up to do and we were on the 100 miler. Although we set of together, it was never the plan to do the challenge together, my effort was all about pacing it so I could complete the course… and him indoors, wanted to get round in the best time he could achieve.

At the start line

The day was forecast to be good as far as sunshine and temperature; however the winds were going to be a bit blustery. All the training truly paid off!! Enjoyed the large part and made sure I kept hydrated, and fueled. Even found myself watching all the different cycling shirts around and the most amusing one read ‘The fat lad at the back’!

The first segment was about 20 miles, with a fuel stop at Sutton, all good so far, with some encouraging words from a friend! Second segment was about 33 miles and the longest. Along the way came across couples, individuals and several cycling groups came streaming past, but largely did it on my own. The second stop was at Leiston and when I turned into the venue, a sea of lycra and bikes met my eyes!!! More to drink and eat and still felt ok. The third segment was about 25 miles which took us to Metfield and after a brief drink, eat and loo stop got on my way for the last push. After enjoying a tail wind while travelling up the coast, now had a side wind and shortly after Metfield the route took a sharp turn left and headed south again. This was straight into a head wind and a hill! So the last 20 miles were hard… and there were more hills. I started counting down the miles… after a left turn in the last 10, with a steep hill ahead noticed a paramedic car on the side of the road… thinking good idea! The steep hills saw my speed reduced to just over 6 mph, but could never stop and get off… never! Things were starting to ache… I don’t really remember which, probably felt like everything. The signpost ‘FRAMLINGHAM’ appeared, oh joy, nearly back!

The finish line!

So entering the college gates, to see my lovely partner waiting for me and waving his arms and I was timed over the line at 8 hours and 24 mins – JOB DONE!!!! Actual cycling time was 6 hours 48 minutes which gave me an average of about 15.1mph, was pleased and within the time I’d hoped.

After getting off my bike and trying to walk back to the car, found I couldn’t walk up straight and kept leaning forward as if on my bike 🙂 – So big sense of achievement! Never felt so tired in all my life that evening, but kudos to the training, bounced back the next day and did a 12 mile recovery ride.


This time last year, wouldn’t have believed I could do this and now looking for the next challenge. So like all the challenges of running your own business, have learned never to underestimate what you can achieve if you try. Yes there will hard times; yes you will get a few things wrong and want to give up along the way, but by preparing and getting it right, you’d be surprised what you can do.

If any of this has helped you, it’s not too late to donate to Action Medical Research, the children they support have much bigger hurdles to address.

Thank you for reading.

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