For the past 3 years I’ve really enjoyed cycling 65 miles from London to Brighton.
The first year was tough going. I hadn’t cycled since I was 14 and I’d just picked up my childhood bike from my parents and brought it to London. It wasn’t until about 2 months later that I realised it was far too small for me (duh!) and I got a new Specialized bike on the cycle to work scheme. Boy did this make it less painful on my knees, but I have to admit, I’m not really one for training. I had 3 months to go until my first London to Brighton ride and while I was cycling regularly, I wasn’t going far. I’d mainly pootle over to local parks, or take a ride down by the river.
On the day of the big ride this really showed. I found it seriously hard, particularly the hills where I seemed to have zero leg capacity. I had to walk up many of them and stopped frequently for rest and food, but despite this I was determined to make it to the end, and I did. It may have taken me 8 hours and left me with a sore bum and aching legs, but I did it! The huge community feel of the ride made a big difference. It’s lovely to meet people along the way, join other cyclists and take in the new towns and countryside you discover en route. It keeps you pushing forward.
Since this first big ride I’ve found it easier and easier to get to Brighton each year and my enjoyment has only increased. The challenge, the new friends waiting to happen and the thrill of getting to the end.
I’m keen to keep on exploring more of the great British countryside under my own steam, and while organised rides are great, the creative and physical freedom of coming up with your own challenge is far more exciting for me.
Last year I cycled home for Christmas — 85 miles in total from London to Newmarket. It was wonderful to take a standard journey and turn it on it’s head. I’d never though about going home via anything other than the most convenient or cheapest means, so to opt for cycling was so much more fun than being stuck in traffic or stranded on a train.
Now I’m looking for something a bit more challenging and I’m particularly keen to find a way that engages in a new way with the route of an adventure. Having heard of many people completing triathlons and ironmans I was inspired to go multi-disciplinary.
Given that I’d been spending a lot of time at home looking after my mum as she goes through treatment for breast cancer it made sense to do a challenge close to home and having grown up only 15 miles or so from Cambridge it struck me that I don’t really know the Cam that well.
From here I came up with my triathlon — of sorts.
The plan is to traverse the Cam from it’s source in Ashwell along it’s 70 mile route to where it meets the North Norfolk sea at Kings Lynn. But just doing it once would be too easy, so, of course, I’m doing it 3 times; once by bicycle, once by foot and once by stand up paddle board (SUP) (here is where the ‘of sorts’ comes in, I don’t fancy swimming it!). This trio of methods makes it 210 miles in all. By far the furthest distance I’ll have traveled thus far on an adventure.
Each of these methods of transport will enable me to explore the river from a different point of view. Cycling the length will be fairly quick and will force me, certainly at the start of the river, to stick to roads near the river rather than being on it’s banks. This will mean I’m more likely to bump into the local people who live and work near by, which will be lovely. Walking/jogging will enable me to get closer to the banks and discover the journey from a slower more intimate pace. While SUPing the river will take me to it’s core. Being on the water the whole way will prove to be a totally different view point and will throw up it’s own challenges in terms of navigating around locks.
But I don’t want to do this alone. I’m delighted to have a good friend of mine, Chantell, joining me for the first leg by bicycle which kicks off on Tuesday 19th April. Keep an eye out for a video from our ride and if you fancy walking/running or SUPing the Cam with me drop me a message, I’d love to have you with me. I’ll be going by foot during May and SUPing in June so if this works for you, let me know.
Having been by my mum’s side for the last year or so as she went through her treatment, I’m acutely aware of the great support Macmillan provide to those going through cancer. As such the Cam Triathlon is supporting Macmillan. I’m hoping to raise £1 a mile, so £210 in all for the charity.
I’m also keen to share my experience with schools and co-working spaces/offices. I’ve found adventure to have such a huge impact on me. It makes me happy, I feel motivated in other areas of my life and it constantly reminds me that so much more is possible that I usually give myself credit for. Who knew 5 years ago that I would have cycled 85 miles home for Christmas and be about to embark on a 210 mile triathlon? The most exciting opportunities have come to me through exploring my potential and following my curiosity. I’d love to share this with you.