Can you do it, can you?
There are so many occasions in life when you may doubt your ability to overcome a challenge of some sort, whether it be at work, in your personal life or when you take on a daft feat that might push you to your physical limits.
Today I upped the ante a little and went for a 50 mile training ride, a step up from the 36 miles or so I've been doing up to now and with 2,700ft of climbs, a real stretch for me, but something I felt I needed to do as I gear up for the first organised ride of the year, the 80 mile Wiltshire Wildcat on 16 March.
I've copied the route below, a fantastic forest track along some quiet roads, I even saw a herd of deer as I went towards Nomansland. The beauty of the route could lull you into a false sense of security and I must admit, it did me, as I headed up from Lockerley towards Salisbury the hills began to get bigger and longer, the wind pushed me back as I struggled up hills and my legs and lungs burned with the effort. The hills did not stop at Alderbury either, every corner I turned another climb ominously greeted me. And that's when I started to question myself.
All sorts of things go through your mind when you are up against it and struggling, you doubt your abilities and your confidence gets tested. I began to think about getting off and stopping, the small of my back was aching, my shoulders and neck were very uncomfortable, my legs felt heavy as all of the energy drained away. I began to think about the challenge I had taken on in the Land's End to John O'Groats, I will be cycling twice this distance in a day, day after day and no doubt up bigger hills.
I began to think about the route I was on, I was starting and finishing in the same place, so all of the big hills I climbed would soon be descended, the wind in my face would at some point be behind me, all the hard work I was putting in would benefit me later, I just had to keep going. And so I did, 3 hours and 40 minutes later, I finished.
I'm sure there will be more ups and downs, as we train and complete this challenge, there will be times when I doubt I can do it, cycling 7 hours a day, day after day. But the hard work I am doing now will put me in good stead, the team around me will cheer me on (as I will them), the memory of those I'm raising money for will inspire me and the support of those who've sponsored me will keep me pushing up those hills even when the wind tries to push me back down, I know a lot of requests come round nowadays, so I hope you can spare a few quid to support me too.
Thanks for reading (and happy cycling)