What have I got myself into?
Blunder number one: before registering for the ride I looked at the route and in particular how far I’d be cycling each day. Is this within my capability, I asked myself. All my riding is measured in kilometres so when I saw that Day 1 was 85, I thought ’85 km - tough, but doable’. It was only later that evening chatting online to James, that he bluntly informed me “It’s MILES, Dad, not Kilometres”. By that time it was too late. I’d paid my registration. Oh well, I’m sure the difference between 85 km and 135 km (85 miles) is more a mental challenge than a physical one.
Next, training plan. I started, as most research seems to do these days, by scouring the Internet for guidance on how to train for a London to Paris ride. Of course there was lots, and much was contradictory. Eventually I found what I thought was a measured, logical progression over 18 weeks, designed for someone starting from scratch and relying solely on riding time, not gym work or anything esoteric like that. The plan progressively built up the miles, recognised the other commitments that life brings and had been published by someone who had completed the ride. Perfect, I thought. Until I sent it to James for review. For those who don’t know my son, he’s bonkers – a triathlon fanatic who has just qualified to race in his age group category for Great Britain. Need I say more? That said, as a medical student, he also has a deep interest in the latest thinking in sports science, so I should listen. His response to my proposed training plan was blunt; “It doesn’t prepare you for the challenge…”. I won’t reproduce the interchange of messages that followed, but suffice it to say that his summary was “It shouldn’t be a steady ramp up, but instead should be working up in steps, because you get fitter and stronger when you’re recovering, not when you’re training”. So, back to the drawing board…. Which is where it still is. There’s time; I don’t need to start until the weather improves, but I’m eager to get a clear view of what I need to do. More on this later I’m sure.
The gear. Maybe I’m as guilty as the next guy in wanting to use the prospect of this challenge as a genuine justification for a new bike, but I really do want (need?) a new bike. It all makes sense in my head – convert my very competent but modest road bike into a true commuting and leisure machine (through the addition of wider, grippier tyres and not removing the mudguards, pannier rack and the like) and take advantage of the wonderful Cyclescheme programme to get my hands on a new lightweight carbon endurance road bike. Sounds like a plan to me. The research on this one continues, and is fun.
Sponsorship. Hopefully you’ve read my story, so no need to repeat it here, suffice it to say that I will soon be starting the fundraising machine. I’m not particularly good at this – I hate asking people for money, so please don’t wait to be asked in person, visit the site and, if you can, contribute to this incredibly important cause. If you don’t like doing these things on line, get in touch and we can sort something out.
I think I’m still going through a mix of panic and excitement. I wait to see where I’ll be when I type my next update.