Inspired to ride
I sat down early January and grabbed my calendar, it had been a eventful first year on my bike in 2013 but now as others wrote new resolutions I was about to expand on one that started twelve months ago. I had discovered a new passion and met some amazing people through last year and it was the people that had inspired me to enter into a programme of cycling and fundraising for LLR.
That blank calendar stared back at me and armed with a list of events and dates, slowly but surely a programme appeared to develop. I had committed to doing London to Paris again, how could I not, it was such an experience first time round, then the London bikeathon 100 miles, Birmingham bikeathon 100 miles and the Prudential ride London 100 miles. All events run by LLR or in the case of the Prudential linked to LLR. That all seemed fine but I wanted more, if I was to make a difference then I felt I had to push myself hard. Raising money and awareness is not easy so for me to convince others to support me I needed them to be inspired in some way, just as I had been last year.
So the addition to these events was an early season ride called the wiggle ups and downs 100 miles and the realisation that London to Paris had to be different, this could only mean working on my average speed and stepping up to cycle in the fastest group at 18 mph. This now started to look like a challenge with four century rides and a four day ride covering 300 miles, my main goals had been set and all that remained was to fit in all the other things I wanted to do.
All the other things!
Those other things, the ones that just happen, like a stone that starts rolling getting faster and faster you know that one that just doesn’t seem to stop. When you do stop and look you think wow how did that happen, not through thoughts of dread but through those of pride and sense of achievement.
I have to at this point introduce my wife, Angela. I have not been on this journey alone and to be completely honest without Angela my journey would not have left first gear. While Angela does not cycle she is my rock, the one who organises me and pushes me when my inspiration wanes on damp dark training days. Angela is my campaign manager, media specialist and chief collector and bucket rattler. Together we get involved with the other things.
It’s through the people we have met along the way that have got us involved with so much more than just riding my bike, Terry, Lee, Andy and John to name a few of those great people.
We have been marshals at our local Southend bikeathon run by Terry and been invited to join the local Southend branch, been dragon boat racing with a group of friends down the river in Chelmsford, played six a side cricket in Witham and completed the dreaded ice bucket challenge.
Oh and I have managed to make an appearance on Channel 4 this year (only a few seconds but hey). I thought I wasn’t doing enough ha-ha, so I went along to a new venture called street Velodrome, a pop up street velodrome series that saw amateur rides compete to race against professionals. All filmed for a two part programme and yes wearing the LLR red cycling kit I made it on the TV, I loved it so check it out for yourselves.
The most amazing thing has been the formation of a group called LLRTeamEssex. Off the back of London to Paris 2013 I had met three other guys from Essex who were on that trip together, Lee had seen Leukaemia first hand as his daughter had survived her own battle as a baby and along with James and Kieran were giving a little back to the charity that helped save her life.
LLRTeamEssex has grown through the year and now has around ten people cycling, with our families supporting and at the Southend bikeathon all the kids took part as well. With our bright yellow kit emblazoned with Cycling to Beat Blood Cancer we can often be seen riding the roads of Essex spreading the word and raising awareness.
As a group we have also entered several other cycling events which slid seemingly easily into my now very busy calendar which included London to Southend and Chelmsford Swarm. The big one for the team was the London bikeathon 100 mile in which the whole team took part with many completing that distance for the first time.
We have great plans for the future including European adventures; you can check us out as we now have our own web site at www.lllrteamessex.com
Highs and Lows
Sunday 21st September saw my final event, the Birmingham bikeathon, by this time Angela had started volunteering at the start and finish point of some of the larger events. This last ride of the year was brilliant, it was the first time LLR had organised a Birmingham event and as usual it was run superbly. One of my highs of the year came with the timed 3.5 mile hill climb; I put my all into it and to my amazement finished first out of 311 entrants.
In lows I mean challenges, I can’t admit to having lows when I’m on my bike, It’s always better than a good day at work. The challenges came at the wiggle ups and downs and the Prudential ride London; both these rides were accompanied by heavy rain and flooded roads. This added a new dimension to 100 miles when soaking wet and blinded by spray.
London to Paris was again beyond words, if you have entered similar events before then you must try this one, rolling road blocks through France and a support crew second to none. At London my target was to beat six hours for the 102 mile course, a personal goal set at the start of the year. Well I included a five mile detour (got lost) just to make it interesting and still managed six hours.
The biggest high of all has been the thanks and support from friends, family and LLR. All I’ve done is ride my bike (4,000 miles this year) and while doing so hope to raise awareness and money to help beat blood cancer.