Well, I guess have had some absolutely unworkable ideas for challenges before. Walking around Iceland, on the main road route, was just possible except for the massive expense in a very expensive country; but walking across Australia, for someone who hates camping, was not at all even remotely possible. This latest challenge, matching the mileage of the BBC Children In Need Rickshaw Challenge cycle over the same period, is a really tough one, though I think it is doable. However, in discussion last week a friend suggested that (paraphrasing) “after this one you could do the same for the Tour de France”. I looked at them and realised that they were serious. I was at pains to point out that I am attempting to match the efforts of half a dozen disadvantaged young adults / children, albeit not all cycling the whole distance, but it is 500 miles or 804.7 km over a period of 9 days. The Tour de France, though not the same distance every year, is around 3,500 km over 23 days. Either I have pushed the barriers so far that people think that I can do anything, or they didn’t know just how far the Tour is. After all, these are professional cyclists at the peak of fitness, quite possibly the fittest sportsmen on the planet, at least for a short period. No wonder a few of them need to take performance enhancing drugs.
500 miles in 9 days is going to be tough enough. Like the best challenges, I am not absolutely sure I will be able to achieve it. This is the final weekend before it starts in earnest – next Thursday – and to be quite frank, I could do with another couple of weeks to build up cycle fitness more gradually as opposed to the mad rush in the past month. So, what is the story this week:
Friday: 100 km (62 miles) in 184 minutes. After six hours at work without a proper lunch break, eating ‘al desko’, I came home, had some cereal, toast and a snack bar. This was the toughest session so far but slightly quicker than the same distance last weekend. I did need to have a couple of breaks for salty snacks as I felt short of energy after about 50 or 60 km.
Saturday: 110 km (68.5 miles) in 201 minutes. Much better prepared and I still felt as if I had plenty more miles left when I finished, though I was getting tired. Lots of milk before and after, and it was simply more relaxing than Friday. I didn’t commit to cycling on the Sunday, only to see how I was in the morning.
Sunday: 100 km (62 miles) in 191 minutes. Brilliant. I was not bothered in the slightest that I was 7 minutes slower than on Friday. The distance was everything today. Getting quite saddle sore near the end.
So 310 km (192.5 miles) over 3 days. Not Tour de France but certainly very happy with that and a frisson more confidence. The strategy next week will be to build up a lot of distance early on, especially Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Without setting specific distances for each day, I would hope very much to be over halfway in the first four days, with the need to have lighter sessions on Monday and Tuesday, with greater work commitments on those days. It might be a heavy last day or two and it will be a relief to finish, that’s for sure. I can already feel it in my thighs and calves.
Why am I doing this? Well, I love a challenge. It doesn’t need to be for charity or monetary gain to be worth it. This is good for me, my fitness, mental health and feeling good about myself, and will be a decent achievement. Ask any serious athlete and their response will be similar. I remember at college when I attempted the Times crossword most days, one friend couldn’t understand why because the prize was only a big dictionary, thesaurus or similar. It was the challenge and as an indirect help in other aspects of my life, building up vocabulary, or whatever, I can’t think of the words to express it. However, this particular challenge is mirroring the Rickshaw Challenge and if and when you think of me doing this, or read this blog, simply consider donating a little spare cash to the real heroes here:
I will keep you updated on my own progress. I expect I will be ahead of the BBC CIN cyclists since their opening day is much shorter than the rest, but they can revel in my slipstream for a while……