December 13th 2014 is the day I collided with a hit and run driver.
The accident could have completely overshadowed my year but it DOES NOT DEFINE MY YEAR because when I looked around the spinal injuries ward, I knew was there with patients in far worse condition than myself. And having been involved with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research for two years, I know just how lucky I am.
No, I will define my momentous year with, one by one, all the wonderful things I have experienced and shared with my wonderful family and friends. I started the year with so many special days ahead: London | Paris, our 40th Wedding Anniversary, my daughter’s wedding, my wife’s 60th Birthday (ooooppps sorry Jane), my son buying his first house at 37 and finally moving out for good (Yeeeeesssss! I love him, but come on...) and Land’s End to John O’Groats. (Jane would put our 40th Anniversary first, but it’s for LLR so the wry smile will be worth it ;-))
So the story begins on my route to Paris, and how I got there from the fitness level I was at. The following words and photos will show you step by step how you can become Unstoppable!
How to do it
Make sure your bike fits you well, as that'll make sure you don't get aches and pains. If London | Paris is your only target for 2015, a decent shop or kind friend who knows cycling can sort out the basics. If you want to take cycling up in a big way I would definitely have a proper bike fit. Mine was by Mike Smith at Velomotion in Newport Pagnell and it made a huge difference.
Firstly I read about multi-day riding, and found it was straight forward really. I thought about how long I had to train, what kit I needed, and read about how I should eat and drink. In the end it was so simple. All I did was work back from the set-off day and increase the miles SLOWLY each week, up to half the distance of the event (165 miles over 4 rides, two longer ones at the weekend), tapering off the week before the event. The result: I was fine and enjoyed every mile with a smile on my face!
It's important to ride with someone if it's possible. Find a local friendly club (though some can be elitist if you're starting from scratch!), or try your council or Sky Rides as an example. That way when the weathers not too warm, or you feel not 'on it' that day, they will be expecting you and guess what -- when you get out you will feel so good! Also, when you get that "my bum's aching" moment as I still do sometimes, a chat and a laugh sees you through.
Working together can achieve feats far out weighing what you thought was possible and the feeling you have sharing those moments will live with you forever. The pictures are from this year’s Land’s End to John O’Groats. When I started training I was 3 stone heavier and very unfit and I have achieved with support from family and friends new and old along with event support.
Food & drink
I drink half a mouthful every 4 miles. Hydration is key - trust me. Your own hydration needs might be slightly more or less than mine, but make sure you drink regularly and don’t wait until you're parched -- it's too late. Food: around 70-90g of carbs (not calories) per hour. Look at the packet details. It's more than you think.
It is your friend. More is better. I put some on (though not too much) even for 30 mile rides, but with multi-day events, I put lots on and every day too. Trust me, ask event organisers what the most common injuries are. I am sure it will be sore bottoms!!!!!
Trust the team at LLR
They are there to make your ride memorable in every way, from Bekah McDonald, event organiser, who has supported and encouraged me since I became involved, to Benjamin Wright, ride captain, a fantastic lad who helps you all along the route where needed, with humor. You will see that this ride is better than the dream you imagined.
In January, I started training. Friends will make the training fun, even when the weather's cold and wet. If you're feeling uptight with the pressures of life, and you start riding and there is no sound but your thoughts, something magic starts to happen. Not straight away, but it starts when you start to hear nature, a bird, a river, a friend's laughter and before you know it you’re getting fitter, thinner (over time!) and having fun.
April saw me and my daughter Laura at our St George's Day LLR fundraising event which raised £900. Having fun and raising money is the way forward. Asking for money in sponsorship is great, but after a couple of years your friends and neighbors will start getting giving fatigue, so it’s much better to sell tickets for an event where people get something for their donation, not just an “I did it, could I have the money please?”
Training can be fun especially when you enter an event or sportive, and here I am in a pre-event at the Milk Race 2014 in Nottingham in May. (And yes, that’s Steve Reynolds -- he gets everywhere I know :-D) It was exciting to ride the same course as the professionals. Mind you, it was glorious sunshine for them.
In June I cycled from London to Paris. Trust the team at LLR. They are there to make you ride memorable in every way, from Bekah McDonald, event organiser, who has supported and encouraged me since I became involved, to Benjamin Wright, ride captain, a fantastic lad who helps you all along the route where needed, with humour. You will see that this ride is better than the dream you imagined.
Don’t forget your loved ones whilst you’re out training. They are supporting you to succeed, so make them feel special. This is Jane and I in Rome on our 40th Wedding Anniversary in July. Jane has been a fantastic support to me and it was wonderful to get a chance to make her feel special.
After London to Paris, I went on to cycle Land's End to John O'Groats in September.
While you're training hard, don’t forget to make new memories with loved ones and friends and sometimes, like this year, you'll find yourself blessed with a very special moment as I did; walking my beautiful daughter down the aisle with my grandson; magical. Life; enjoy it as it comes along and year by year special moments come along that transcend all things like your wedding, the birth of your children and their weddings, and the birth of grandchildren -- the greatest gift of all.
London | Paris is about riding with friends and making new ones. If anyone is alone, come and find me - Mick Hobster - and Team West Bridgford Cycle Club. We are friendly and will not bite! Feel part of something truly special just come and say HELLO - don’t be shy. If you’re lucky, you will make friends for life as I feel I have.
You can join in as little or as much as you like. When I started training I was 3 stone heavier and very unfit, and I have achieved with support from family and friends new and old along with event support. YOU CAN DO IT TOO. If you dare to believe, you can do it. Pedal one revolution at a time and you will get there. And don’t forget you are special, not just for being you, but for all those you don’t know and will never know that will be better because of what you did.