I always knew this week in July marked the end of holidays and time away sat in the sun and more importantly meant I had to start really ramping up the training for this ride! It always feels when you sign up to an endurance challenge, that you have so much time stretching out before you.. then suddenly it’s only 9 months to go… and you VERY much don’t.
The furthest bike ride I have done since i started getting into cycling, is what can only be described as the most humbling experience to date. The event is called Ride the Night and is run by the amazing team at Dream Challenges who are also organising the ride in Italy.
The ride is exactly as it says on the tin… it starts at 9pm and is 105km (65 miles) of cycling through the night. The start and end line is at Windsor Racecourse and the route takes you all the way into London, past the London eye and back to Windsor in the early hours of the morning, total journey time around 6 hours. The scary thing is.. our ride in Italy is another 2 full days of this with only bedtime to recover.
I am not just dressed all in pink for jokes in the photo to the right.. the ride is the only female only one in the country and raises money for 3 amazing charities- breast cancer now, target ovarian cancer and jo’s cervical cancer trust. The theme of the whole ride is very much as bright, sparkly, glittery, pom pom adorning, tutu skirt wearing and light flashing as you can be!
I have done the ride for 4 years now and each year it gets better and better. I can honestly say a couple of those times i had maybe been on my bike a total of 3/4 times in the months leading up to it.. I know now that is not sensible and means for a long recovery afterwards! A big part of the ride in Italy will be about mental endurance and being able to get up the next morning and do the same distance (120km) all over again!
i have collectively raised over £5,000 for those charities alongside my riding buddies. The buzz from doing a ride like this is very hard to explain with the right words and this year more than any I felt how lucky I was to be able to do it and ride with a group of such inspiring people. My partner in crime this year was the lovely Claire ( see our tired faces below!) who I met through work a few years ago and has now also completed her second Ride the Night.
Somehow every year my bike and my body get me to the finish line.. but really what I have learnt is how powerful your mind is in that equation. There are moments on this ride at 2 am when it is silent, you’re cold and your legs feel like lead, that you can begin to feel pretty dark. I can only describe the darkness to feel like you have no more energy to give and it feels like you don’t know how to resolve it. Those times are when you begin to get in your head about your ability to complete the ride..
That darkness feeling is something i now know that so many people experience, not just doing a physical endurance challenge, but getting up in the morning, a meeting at work you can’t face, driving to an unknown place, meeting new people, tricky relationships or even just sitting on the sofa. However big or small that feeling is or when and where it decides to crop up and slap you round the face… It is bloody real and at times scary and unknown.
So for now, I am going to focus on that as the start of my training plan… Listen to my mind when i need to and be ready to give it a hug.