Sunday 12 May 2013 will be a day I won't forget in a hurry. It involved a ludicrously early start, to get to Blenheim before what would ordinarily be breakfast time. At that point the sun shone. But it wasn't to remain out for long. The clouds conspired, and for those (few) of us tackling the 60 mile circuit, much of our afternoon was spent on two wheels in wet and windy conditions.
I knew why I was there, and the inspiring talk given to us by a fantastically enthusiastic member of the Events Team imprinted it exactly where it needed to be - forefront of my mind - I was doing it in honour of a very special woman. A woman who is solely responsible for me getting on a bike, for me buying my first road bike, and for my new found enthusiasm for apparently not insubstantial distances.
Charlotte was there with me, in spirit, as I toured the very attractive Cotswold villages. Her gentle, yet powerful words of encouragement that have (helpfully) been stored in my 'Random Access Memory' from our recent rides around Richmond Park reminded me that the only thing that realistically stood between me and the (pink) finish line was myself and my attitude to the task in hand.
I rode as well as I could. After 45 miles I was painfully stiff. And hungry. I have a lot to learn about the tricks of longish rides. I need to find some energy releasing fuels that I can carry with me. I needed all the energy I could muster, to keep my legs rolling whilst giving short shrift to my less than helpful thinking.
What goes up has to come down - right? According to my GPS I climbed 10ft more than I descended yesterday. A total of 4235.5ft, to be precise. My mood undulated alongside the terrain. I had to fight my own alien invasion. At points I imagined what it might be like to be a cancer patient. My body told me that it had a rough idea. I thought only of Charlotte and of what she represents. Courage. Faith. Strength. Fight.
I became emotional more than once. This, I know today, isn't a bad thing. Why wouldn't I? There was no coincidence that I was wearing vivid pink nail varnish, that my handlebars were newly adorned with hot pink tape and that this, my most intense ride to date, was organised by Breast Cancer Care.
After 5 long hours and a painful further 17 minutes in the saddle, Rider No. 2013 reached the finish. My medal was hard earned. It is, just like my best friend, both shiny and strong.
Please visit my fundraising site and support my training efforts
in advance of my even bigger ride in August...