5 September 2016
I started fairly ill-prepared, but then again, fully aware of what ‘state’ I was in – physically and psychologically, and with a core resource of strength, experience and resilience which I can normally pull out of the bag when I need to. I have built up my toolbox of endurance tactics and strategies over the years – yacht racing for ten months around the world in the Global Challenge RTW yacht race, walking across England, Ireland and Scotland on three different occasions, skiing full distance to the South Pole from the Coast of Antarctica for 46 days, walking on hot coals, paddling the Mekong and kayaking the Thames, the list goes on. Suffice to say that I know what stuff I am made of. I know I can dig deep and I know that I’m a tough cookie (Why is it called tough cookie?!).
So my 800+ mile cycle down the length of the UK started on the 5th September 2016, on a day when I wasn’t 100% ready, but I was 99% sure I could pull it out the bag.
Physically, the longest cycle in one day I had ever done was the BHF London to Brighton charity bike ride – 56 miles. Preparing for this 800+ mile cycle, I had cycled a few 20, 30, 40 miles days – but only 160 miles in total, and never more than one day at a time! I now had to cycle an average of 75 miles a day, every day, for 11 days. Could I do it?
I had also been at the fantastic BaseCamp Festival from 1 – 4 September, which was tiring to say the least. I was a guest speaker (skiing to the South Pole: film), ran a workshop (Living Life to the Full), launched my book (Amazon), went wild swimming and generally had a ‘good time’ (for which read: partied hard). I got home at 9pm on the 4th and had to do wash and dry my technical clothing that night, unpack and repack and crawled into bed at 0130. Less than 5 hours later my alarm went off… My flight from Southampton to Wick was leaving at 0845.
Psychologically, I was tired and nervous. I hadn’t trained much. Here are my top 11 concerns:-
- Falling off
- Hurting my thumb even more (it was still repairing)
- My bum hurting
- Getting lost
- The weather
- Cycling up hills and down mountains
- Cold and lonely at night in my tent
- Having enough time to complete the mileage (I was due to fly to China for work the day after the finish)
- Finding a charitable deed to do
- Being able to do 80 mpd in 11 days
- Losing my phone / breakages
I arrived in Wick. My bike was there. (Thanks to The Spot Shop for putting it together for me). I caught a taxi to John O-Groats. It was very windy. My bike felt heavy. I was nervous…