I’m just back at my desk, a little jaded admittedly, after cycling 980 miles from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. I took part in the Deloitte ‘Ride Across Britain’ event, arranged by a company called Threshold.
I’m an experienced cyclist and I’m no stranger to training for big sporting events. Standing on the start line at Land’s End, 2 weeks ago, I knew I was in good shape and perfectly capable of riding between 100-119 miles for each of the consecutive 9 days – and taking on the iconic climbs such as Cheddar Gorge, The Lecht and Glenshee that were planned into the route.
What I couldn’t have accounted for was the weather or the fact that Sam, my cycling partner in crime, would catch a sickness bug on day 5. Whilst most people in the UK were enjoying an Indian Summer, we were battling torrential rain and high winds – and doing this with a team member who was feeling well below par.
It was the most incredible, and at times horrendous, 9 days of my life. Threshold had more people drop out en route this year than any other year, due to the weather. Crossing the line at John O’Groats, having ridden every mile, was an incredible feeling – made all the sweeter by the fact it was a such a tough slog to get there. I cried, I think we all did. A mixture of elation at the accomplishment and relief it was over.
It’s easy enough with the right preparation to take on something straightforward where everything runs smoothly – but that’s the thing with sporting events and work/life. Things frequently don’t run to plan and you can hardly get angry about the weather or things that you can’t control. There will always be those curve balls you can’t predict, that you just have to work through – and there lies the real test of grit, personality and ability.
Cycling into a headwind for 50 miles, in the Highlands on our last day, was a pretty low point. It was so cold and exhausting. I kept reminding myself it would end, as all things do, and I gave myself something to look forward to – in this instance turning the corner!
Something else that helped was Threshold’s mantra ‘more is in you’ – it sounded cheesy at first when they would say this at every briefing…but it’s true. When you’re out of energy and in a dark place, you still have more to give. It helped to remind myself of this and once I could get my brain to accept this my body found more.
The other thing we’d do in the dark times on the ride was stop what we were doing and just take a moment to think, reframe the situation and then start off with renewed vigour. Or we’d laugh and sing. At one point we had a little group of us singing Bohemian Rapsody while cycling along, which lightened everyone’s spirits. I still chuckle now at the unknown man singing ‘Gallileo’ from the back of our peloton. We had people thanking us afterwards for helping them through a tough day.
With my rose-tinted glasses on I look back at an incredible year of training, fundraising and an epic challenge. Highs for me include cycling past St Michael’s Mount as the sun was coming up on the first day of the Ride Across Britain, cycling into Scotland on day 5 (I’d never been before) climbing Shap Fell and riding past Balmoral and through ‘Hole in the Wall’ – and of course raising over £12,400.00 (so far!) for our Exeter charities.
You can still sponsor me if you’d like here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=SamandSarahsepic2019adventureLEJOG&isTeam=true
Thank you for all your love and support – and for being on this journey with me. It’s been incredible.