Sunday was awesome. I did not anticipate that we would ride for so long. Charlotte probably didn't either. I feel certain that four laps would ordinarily take her a lot less time. But she remains ever patient, and super supportive. Her gentle words of encouragement, delivered with such heart and always at precisely the right moment, count for everything. Particularly when I'm busting my lungs, not to mention my legs, trying to get up Broomfield Hill. We rode around the Park four times. Twice in each direction. It was brilliant. It was hard.
I have a little over four months until my first ever cyclo-sportive. One hundred miles on two wheels. And I'm just a little bit scared. There's no need. Of course. And little point. Obviously. Every ounce of energy needs to be wisely invested. I simply need to concentrate on getting fitter, and hopefully faster. My legs are strong, but they don't move terribly quickly. "Push, and pedal... Smile, a relax..." This was something of a mantra I clutched on to as my best friend led the way up the (very) long (and painfully slow) hill climb towards Pembroke Lodge.
|Oh how these bikes inspire me...|
|Note to self: Pink tape for handlebars...|
Charlotte is, without a doubt, not simply a breast cancer survivor. She is a breast cancer thriver...
It's super strange to think that only twelve months ago she was being pumped full of toxic chemicals, as she fought the first round of the battle against the vicious alien. Chemical warfare was declared in earnest, in February 2012. And there we are, cycling in the rain on a Sunday afternoon casually chatting about my intended training plans (and her more definitive race schedule for the season ahead). Bizarre. But true.
This is my life. And what a wonderful life it is. Our friendship is precious. Charlotte is special.
And fast: I was just about engaging the low gears to tackle our penultimate hill, now going anti clockwise from Kingston Gate, and she flew up it. I barely caught my breath before losing sight of her blue GORE® jacket (the weather was not in our favour) and then reminding myself that Charlotte has been doing this a while. And when it comes to climbing, experience counts for a quite a bit.
I will get there. Slow and steady. There's no race to win, but there's money to raise. Serious money. Breast Cancer Care and the British Lung Foundation are my two chosen charities. Breast Cancer Care for obvious reasons. The BLF because of the structure and support they've offered my dear mother in recent years. My breathlessness is a matter of choice. Heart breakingly, hers is not.
Onwards and upwards. There's more work to be done in Richmond. I need to learn how to repair a puncture. And then the open roads of the South East beckon. Kent and Surrey await. And now I have a date in my diary. The Pink Ribbon Ride on Sunday 12th May shall be my official practice. 60 miles around the Cotswolds from Blenheim Palace. By then, the weather may or may not improve, but I sure as hell hope my riding has.