Part one of Vivi Nation’s Paris to London 24-hour Cycle Challenge.
Picture the scene. It’s 10:10 pm and you are riding for your life towards a ferry that closes check-in at 10:30. You’ve got 120 miles of cycling already in the legs and you’re pretty much running on empty. It’s cold, pitch black and the roads are unfamiliar. And there is no plan B. If the ferry is missed, the challenge is failed and you are sleeping rough in Dieppe.
This is the situation I found myself in during the craziest, most challenging and fulfilling weekend of my life. Over the next three short blog posts, I’m going to try and encapsulate months of planning, preparation and finally execution of a charity challenge that I honestly didn’t believe I could do. In this blog, I’m going to talk about the planning and preparation.
Back to the very beginning
The idea to ride from Paris to London in 24-hours is not, of course, a new one. My brother, Chris, (Vivi founder) and I stumbled across the idea on the internet and it almost immediately took hold. It’s challenging enough to grab attention, involving 200 miles of cycling, tight timing, and a lack of sleep. We were confident we would raise money doing it, and we also felt we had a chance to complete because, unlike other more specialised challenges like the 3 peaks, this one was accessible to anybody with a bike.
All 6 members of the team are competent cyclists but for me, this would my first time breaking 100 miles in a day of cycling. I’m a moderately fit teacher with a busy job that allows little time for real training, so from the start I knew I had my work cut out. Here’s the thing though – we had the ultimate motivation. We were riding for our Dad. There is no greater source of inspiration than riding for a purpose and we wanted to raise money and awareness to help our Dad as he went through treatment for prostate cancer.
Interestingly, each member of the team approached training in very different ways. Some aimed for regular, big weekend rides. I, however, essentially put all my faith in the ability of short, sharp spin classes to get me in shape. I can’t praise spinning enough. Over the weeks and months leading up to the challenge, I went spinning two or three times a week. My weight gradually came down. My endurance and strength increased. When I did get out on the road, I amazed myself with the improvements I had made.
I suspect that this is far from the ideal way to prepare for a long-distance endurance event but my longest ride pre-event was 90K. It was a good ride but I think clocking at least one 100 mile ride before would have set my nerves at ease much more. As it was, I boarded the Eurostar on Friday 26th June with genuinely no idea whether I could cycle the 120 miles of day one to arrive at the ferry port on time. As my intro to the blog suggests, it was extremely tight. You’ll just have to check back next week to find out whether I was on board heading for blighty or sleeping rough in France!
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