I started cycling in January 2016, just 8 months ago after recovering from a serious ankle injury for the second time playing football in November 2015. At 41 it had finally dawned on me that I would never make it that final step further to being a professional footballer, and it was time to look at a different sport, so I signed up to do a 100 mile charity bike ride from London to Brighton. Great idea, however, I had no bike, was in a cast and on crutches, and hadn’t actually ridden a bike since I was a kid, but I like a challenge, and so my cycling journey began!!
My first ride was on 23rd January 2016 having come off my crutches on Christmas Eve, a modest 21 miles but that was the start of many miles worth of training with the target of the 100 mile ride at the end of June in mind.
In the six months leading up to the big one I managed 14 rides covering just over 600 miles, with the rest of my training supplemented by numerous indoor sessions on the turbo trainer and many, many spin classes, including a mammoth 4 hour spinathon.
As my confidence grew, so did the distances, throughout January and February the furthest I rode was 36 miles, the thought of doing nearly 3 times that distance filled me with fear, it is a bloody long way!!
By the 12th March I had hit my first training target, a 50 mile ride, halfway through my training schedule, and half the distance completed. The next target was a 78 mile sportive in Newmarket, my first ever large group participation ride. Despite the awful weather that day it was thoroughly enjoyable, and received a silver award for my time.
The following weeks leading up to June were filled with a few 50 mile rides and a 72 mile ride around the flat, leafy lanes of Norfolk with one of our other riders, Steve Watkins.
The final training ride was an 86 mile ride around Hertford, which was an absolute nightmare. A puncture on the ride to the start of the event, then a split tyre just 4 miles in lead to a frustrating ride, a 90 minute delay before restarting and competing in the sportive alone with everyone else a good 20+ miles ahead of me.
The 100 mile ride came around far quicker than I expected, and the night before doubts were creeping into my head as to whether I had done enough training and was I ready for this? The ride itself was tough, very hilly, but thoroughly enjoyable and accomplished in a time of 7h 20min which for my first century I was more than pleased with.
I have two more 100 mile rides planned, one in just 4 days after I have written this, and plans for a few more as we enter 2017 in preparation for the Twin Towns 1000.
The first 6 months of 2016 have been a massive change for me, leading to me completing something I never thought I would do. The Twin Towns 1000 ride next summer is going to beat that by some distance and is something that I am thoroughly looking forward too