One ride closer to our 1000 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats Cycle challenge.
We cycled out to Isle of Sheppey, a place way off the tourism radar – we know, but we just needed a destination point that would force us to go to the next stage of our training milestones; to cycle around 150 miles together as a Team. Isle of Sheppey seemed as convenient as any destination. It appealed as we could each start out from our homes and RV within a very short distance at Wandsworth bridge and then follow a route along the Thames East out of London. As we came to the edge of our UK Island, we were at Sheerness Beech, Isle of Sheppey.
We would do it unsupported primarily to keep our costs low but also, knowingly, it would put increased reliance on our planning and preparation for the 2 days cycling. Essentially, we would use only what we planned for, packed and carried. The aim to be to help us to decide from this training experience what we each would feel was important to wear and carry for the LEJOG event in August. Also, it was a chance to get to know our equipment, specifically become more intimate with our bikes and improve our saddle fitness! There was a serious side to it all; it would help identify shortfalls in personal equipment along with any weaknesses in fitness and endurance. It would therefore be used to re-orientate training and development plans over the next few months.
Some of us doubted we would complete the first day before darkness. Some doubted, with pain from the first day, that we would be able to return at all by cycle the following day.
I am proud to note that we all accomplished the training task. From the comforts of the office chair with coffee in-hand we went to the fairly unfamiliar feeling of padded cycling shorts – I don’t remember wearing a nappy but I imagined it was that ‘not right feeling’ and certainly ‘not right looking’ all over again. More disturbing was the lack of coffee, just electrolytic tasting isotonic tableted water – urgh !
We bumped through the pot-holed roads of London, cut across fields of knotted undergrowth and slipped on paths of precarious scree to reach our destination on the East Coast before dark. There was something very comforting about eating a late supper while still enveloped in our wet and sodden clothes. All with a smug sense of achievement from the days cycling but at the same time with a nervous apprehension of what would follow…. tomorrow, we go again.
The second day, we pedalled and pushed more quickly – we were heading home. With sunshine and now an increased confidence in our personal fitness, we covered the ground at a faster pace. The first day we had been rain-soaked to the bone and shivering from underneath our wet polythene raincoats, but now on the second day we were stripped to cycling shirts in the sunshine and drenched this time only from sweat.
It was invaluable in terms of understanding the challenges our ride aspirations of 1000 miles in August would present, learning a whole range of things from best use of navigation apps, to what waterproof clothing do I really want to carry and wear, to, yes, between now and 10 August, I need to get out a lot more on the bike !
I also saw individual strengths and weaknesses, including my own and recognised that truly, there were varied strengths across the Team.
Oh, whatever the pains we would face in August, I took away that together working as a Team should, with collaboration and closeness, we could achieve our aspirations of LEJOG and actually at the same time, share immense enjoyment and gain personal reward while contributing to a great Charity.
Not long now ……
Philip Mitchell June 2019
ENOTRAC is undertaking a 1000 miles challenge bicycle ride from Land’s End to John O’ Groats to promote awareness and fundraising for Parkinson’s Research.
One of ENOTRAC’s team members has been affected by this condition, and we, as a Team, want to contribute and help those working actively to find a cure for it.