In just two weeks time, I will start the London to Paris cycle challenge, which takes place between the 2nd and 6th July.
Over the course of 4 days, I will cycle cover more than 480k in just four days on the roads. Of course I have trained for this event, having cycled nigh on 3,000 kilometres over the last few months in preparation. But it was only last weekend when I managed to ride 120km in one day. That is the task for each of the first 3 days of this challenge before a gentle 90km on day 4 as we head into Paris.
When I started my training I struggled to get up the smallest of hills and was pleased to cycle up to 20km. Last Sunday I cycled from Stevenage to Downham Market in Norfolk, a route that took me through four counties, in the wind and rain. Who said summer was here? The aim of the ride was prove to myself that I could cycle 120km in one go as that is what awaits me when I first leave south east London on day 1, a 120km ride down through the garden of England to Dover. There is a deadline on day 1 as well, to be in Dover by 5pm or risk missing the ferry. I don’t want to be swept up by the support van if I am in danger of missing that deadline – oh the ignominy of not completing the stage!
Last Sunday I set off in the rain, expecting the clouds to disappear by the time I had left the town. Wet through before I reached the edge of the Shire, it would not be until I reached the far side of Cambridge before the sun shone through. But then the gale force wind (so it felt to me) had whipped up, from a north easterly direction, straight in from the wash. Cycling north easterly directly into a strong headwind is not much fun, but then this is what I might face on days 2 and 3 in northern France, so all good preparation right?
Surprisingly, it felt like I was cycling uphill most of the way to the Fens, which are supposed to be at sea level. How could that be so, it should have been downhill all the way from Cambridge! After 5 hours of cycling, I made it to Downham Market, cold, with numb hands, but feeling rather satisfied with myself that I had reached my goal, to prove to myself that I can ride that distance and for so many hours.
The hard part will be repeating that the day after, then again the day after, and the day after that …
But then I remind myself that it is all for a great cause and I will get back on the bike.