Having cycled for as long as I can remember, a centurion ride has always been an aspiration. I enjoy participating in many sports and lead an active life but cycling has always been close to my heart. From watching the Tour De France as a young boy to following Chris Froome winning for the fourth time this year. I have enjoyed taking part in a number of sportives and events over the years but 100 miles is my furthest challenge to date. To take on this challenge for such an inspiring charity, such as Property For Kids, is a real honour and I can’t wait to get in the saddle on the day.
If I’m going to be totally honest how I got involved in riding for the PFK team then it could be described as a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And frankly I’ve only myself to blame. I woke up the morning after the Brenda’s with a sore head and a cheery email from Jilly welcoming me to the veterans PFK Velo team! What on earth had I agreed to the night before? Then it all came flooding back to me… I vaguely recalled the discussion that had taken place that night in Primms and I had to face the reality of what I’d merrily volunteered for. However, I am as enthusiastic and committed now, as I was when I first volunteered. I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the PFK charity at a number of events over the years and have seen the great work the charity undertakes.
On a personal level I have undertaken a number of endurance races such as the London Marathon, the odd triathlon and the three peaks challenge but never a ride of quite this magnitude. I’ve been cycling for many years but it’s taken a back seat (excuse the pun) over the last few years. I’m pleased to back in the saddle to help raise awareness and raise money for such a great charity. In order to be race fit I immediately joined a cycle club and have got some decent mileage under my belt. It’s fair to say this challenge has really reignited my passion for cycling and I look forward to completing it whilst raising as much money as possible for PFK.
At around the time of my 40th birthday I realised that running was now on the list of things that my body can no longer cope with: The knee aches, the back strains, the waking up in the morning to realise another bit has dropped off in the night. I had to find another method of keeping the obesity at bay. Cycling was suggested to me, and I reluctantly got involved, fearing that it looked a little complicated. 6 years later and I’m a fully paid up MAMIL, and I’m (fairly) successfully keeping the obesity at bay, although this year has given rise to a few injuries (Calf, groin, lower back) largely products of donning the skin suit and pointy hat and pushing myself as hard as possible in search of precious extra speed in my cycling club’s Tuesday night Time Trials. Yes, things have got to the stage where this seems perfectly normal.
Despite all of the training and enthusiasm a 100 mile ride always hurts. I always ask myself why I put myself through it. This time I will have the answer: raising money for PFK will be worthwhile and noble cause, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Last year my cycling hit a turning point, I finally traded in my old trusty (and slightly rusty) road bike for a shiny, all singing and dancing (and completely out of my budget) bike. Having convinced myself for many months in the lead up to the purchase that the more I spend, the more I will force myself to get out training, I can now confirm a year on my strategy has somewhat changed. Unintentionally more like a prized classic car; I am now the proud owner of a very very low mileage, dry stored, never ridden in the wet, nearly new road bike (I’m not sure it’s value has increased yet though)!
My cycling consists of sporadic events and rides usually well beyond my fitness level, accompanied by limited training yet alongside accomplished riders well within their comfort zone and fitness levels. Therefore the Velo 100 shall fit perfectly into my riding style. My strategy has led to team moral boosting comments (most not repeatable before the watershed) such as “what am I doing with my life” (said at 4 o’clock in the morning in the rain attempting a 24hr London to Amsterdam bike ride) and “this is the most miserable experience of my life” (said in the early hours of the morning on a dark rainy desolate rural French road during a 24hr London to Paris bike ride – whilst also suffering the ill effects of a dodgy chicken curry on the ferry).
I’m looking forward to taking on the Birmingham Velo and riding with the PFK team. I’m sure they’ll all appreciate my moral boosting from the back of the pack. PFK is a great cause and it is a privilege to help contribute to the cause. I’ve justified my lack of training as you shouldn’t enjoy yourself when raising money for charity. Also on the plus side – I don’t need to clean my bike for the start line!
I remember my first bike well, a Raleigh Pippin, in red, with stabilisers; that childhood frustration of getting stuck with your pedals spinning but not touching the ground (thanks to the stabilisers) still lives with me today. I progressed to a hand-me-down Raleigh Burner BMX, then a Raleigh 5-speed racer and then finally mountain bikes… There it stuck and I was hooked. Downhill, as fast as you can, on or off road, that thrill has never left me. These days the potential consequences have probably slowed me down a bit, but not subdued my enthusiasm.
Cycling these days takes the form of weekly mountain bike rides out with a bunch of mates, around the trails local to us and via any pubs on (or near) the chosen routes, commuting to work when time permits and taking my six year old out at the weekends, encouraging him to build jumps from a plank of wood and a couple of bricks, and not fuss when he falls off…
For me, cycling is my escape. One day it might escape me, but until that time, slow up, fast down!