300 miles, two wheels, one huge challenge

Next week I am going to get on my bike and cycle the three hundred miles from London to Paris. I am bricking it. I wasn’t a sporty kid, I am not a great cyclist and my thighs are not made of steel. When I think of the scale of the challenge and the distance I need to cover I start to panic. My heart begins to race and I seriously wonder if I will make it. Or if my wheels will come off, both figuratively and literately. I fear that in a weeks’ time I will find myself broken and defeated, sat in the dust by the side of the road somewhere outside Dover.

To try and get ready, both physically and mentally, on Sunday 3rd September I took part in the London Bikeathon a fifty-mile ride around London. I also cycled the eight miles to the start of the event and then eight miles home, bringing my total for the day to a not insignificant sixty-six miles. It was a brilliant event and I got to meet other riders taking part in London to Paris. It felt wonderful to cross the finish line. Sure, I couldn’t keep up with my super speedy team mates and I struggled with the hill in Richmond park (yes, I got off the bike and pushed it up the hill). But I did sixty-six miles and I was still smiling at the end of it.

Then came Monday morning, my back and neck were painfully stiff and sore. Whereas yesterday I had been grinning, now the thought of getting back on the bike makes me grimace. Guiltily, I shirked the bike in favour of the tube. The niggling doubts returned, sure I had managed one long day cycling. But London to Paris is a four-day event and the longest day is a gruelling 85 miles in the saddle. It will be the longest, most challenging sporting event I have ever attempted. Can I do it? Have I got the stamina and pedal power to get to Paris? I find out next week.