I’ve been serious about riding bikes for just over five years now, although like many people been able to ride a bike for far longer. In that time I’ve had two and a bit bikes, the first wasn’t much good to be honest (which lasted three months) but got me the bug and was quickly replaced by something a bit more substantial. These days I’m riding around on something I’ve built myself having firmly become one of those people who cycles and preaches about the benefits of doing so.
For the most part cycling for me is a solitary pursuit, the ability to go out and put a few miles down on my own is part of the appeal. It’s good for getting your head clear and having a good think. These days with the commute into work being predominantly self-powered I often work out what I need to do in my day whilst turning the cranks. I occasionally go out with others, but I’d hazard that nearly 95% of the riding I do is just me.
Now, I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions but this year is different. Having read something somewhere last year about biking resolutions I thought “I’m going to become a more sociable rider!” However, I needed something to spur me on to this, and looking around I found an event in September for the British Heart Foundation. That would do the trick. A quick Facebook post to friends to see if they were interested has become something bigger, there are now eight of us doing it, and we have a plan. A plan we hope will raise lots of money for the BHF, because that’s a good thing.
We’re taking part in the Peak District MTB Challenge. Presently we’re signed up for a measly 14 Miles with 770m of climbing, but we want to do more than that, but we need an incentive. There are four routes, which break down as follows (with guides to distance and amount of climbing);
Adventure (14 Miles, 770m of Climbing).
The equivalent of Manchester to Rochdale, with a trip up Slieve Commedagh (the second highest mountain in Northern Ireland) to get the limbs moving.
Advanced (24 Miles, 1405m of Climbing).
Manchester to Todmorden, with a trip up Ben Nevis thrown in.
Extreme (34 Miles, 2175m of Climbing).
Manchester to Halifax, with two trips up Snowdon to deal with en route.
Ultimate (39 Miles, 2515m of Climbing).
Manchester to Bradford, with trips up Ben Nevis and Snowdon to truly punish me.
Whilst we’re still figuring out details, the general plan is to set targets for fundraising that bump us up to the next category. Looking at it now the distance doesn’t worry me that much (the Adventure route is a similar distance to my daily commute), but the amount of climbing is bloody terrifying! And most of the climbing is off road which means no smooth tarmac, but loose gravel, sand and other things to make it more difficult. I’m under no illusions about this, I’m going to need to train, start eating properly (Sj even got me books about this to help) and probably cut out the beer nearly completely (probably nearer the time) if I’m going to be in anything near fit enough to even begin to do this. I’ll no doubt feel the benefits.
The good thing is it’s already making me a more sociable rider, we’re organising rides to get to know each other and try to build up the fitness and the legs necessary to achieve this.
I just hope it doesn’t hurt too much along the way.