LEAVING IN TWO DAYS
When the idea of cycling to London came to my mind, it was about 2 months in to my trip to London and now I am leaving in 2 days. Wowza. I feel like it was just yesterday. I have already learnt a lot by going through the process of preparing for this journey. I have learnt about myself as well as about solo cycling and endurance challenge.
RE-PLANNING THE ROUTE
As I started confirming dates with the people I plan to stay with, my stay-over in Manchester and London became no longer possible. I looked at my options and decided to change up my plan.
The initial plan involved having a rest day at my half-way point in Manchester. So, I cut my two nights there into one and decided to keep going the next day. One of the most important things for me is to get a proper rest and have time to recover after the cycle to be fully present at the conference. To be able to do that I decided to divert my last leg to Norwich. It is the same distance as Leicester to London and it means that I can stay with my boyfriend’s family and have the time I need to rest. I will then take the train to London.
There are so many things I am excited about. I am looking forward to seeing how I dig deep inside of myself, both mentally and physically, to find the strength to be able to get to the finish line. I am excited to meet new people around the UK who were so kind to put me up for the night. I cannot wait to relax and have a bath when I get there. And at last, I am really looking forward to the Tony Robbins personal growth conference I am going to in London.
I find myself really excited for this journey when I talk to other people about it. I feel confident and strong to take on this challenge. It is going to be super hard but I know that it is doable and I have done the maximum I could to train for it. I have not set myself an impossible goal. Even though the voice at the back of my head will always tell me that I could have done more. Although, that voice is there no matter what I do, so I have learnt not to listen to it.
As I set off on my last longer cycle ride on Wednesday, I was planning to cycle to a place me and Charlie wanted to check out for his camping trip. It happened to be the first leg of my big journey. I thought it was great so I could get familiar with the area. I wanted to leave early to get there at a reasonable time. Due to being busy the evening before I had to pack and prepare in the morning.
I woke up very anxious again. Same as I did before when I wanted to do an early morning cycle but it happened to be freezing and snowing. This time there was no danger of the road being icy but I still woke up and could not shake the anxiety off. Even though I did not have a rational reason to be worried, it was debilitating. I think it is because waking up in the dark and knowing I will be cycling in the dark for the first 1.5-2 hours makes me feel nervous. It is the doorstep mile that is the hardest. I have never felt like this before when driving or travelling somewhere in the dark. And yet, being on the bike makes me feel vulnerable and the worrying feelings cripple me.
My aim is to make sure I have everything ready so that I only have to do the bare minimum on Tuesday morning before I head off. I am also focusing on preparing mentally to deal with this moment.
If you have any suggestions for how to deal with the anxiety, please comment or send me a private message. I would really appreciate any tips.
THE AIM OF THE JOURNEY
The main aim of this journey is to get to the conference in London; the main purpose is to inspire you to believe that you can do anything. No matter what it is and how hard it is, there will always be excuses but it is up to you whether or not you let them have the final call.
I have always been an active person but I have never been the best at anything. I love cycling and being outdoors but cycling 550 miles in 5 days is something that I would not think I could do before. And yet, I am going to try. I have started from scratch to figure out how to train and how to prepare for this journey. The only extra things I have bought for my trip are padded shorts and chamois creme. Everything else is what I already have, what I have borrowed or asked for in exchange for a mention. Including my bike, I am cycling on a hybrid second hand bike I bought a year ago.
I want to inspire all of you who have self-limiting beliefs that you have to be an athlete to take on a big challenge like this one. That you do not have and cannot afford all the equipment you ‘need’. All you need to do to accomplish anything you set your mind to is determination and perseverance. Aim high, because even if you did not get all the way, you will still get higher than you thought you would in the first place.
Komoot has kindly supported me with the full package. With Kamoot, I have the ability to to plan a comfortable route and it gives me the luxury of offline navigation when I am on the go. I have tested the app on my training cycle rides and I love it. I can just turn the navigation on and it tells me where to go just like Google maps or any other car navigation. It pauses every time I stop. I can check my average speed, how much I have cycled already, how many miles I have left, and it shows me an elevation graph. It also tells you how long you have left based on your average speed.
Bothy bikes in Aviemore were absolutely amazing with servicing my bike. They checked everything was safe and made sure the bike was centered and ready to conquer such distance. I have to say I was a bit nervous about any potential issues coming up, because I have a second hand bike that I bought a year ago. I also had a little accident a few months back and a part of my gear system bent which meant I was not able to use the lowest 2 gears because it was making a horrendous noise. Thanks to Bothy bikes it is now working all perfectly and the only thing that needed to change was the back brake cable. I was so pleased with how quickly the servicing was done. If you are around Aviemore and want to rent a bike, need any bike equipment, or need your bike serviced, pop into Bothy bikes and David with his team will look after you.
As my start is around the corner, whilst I rest my muscles, I am packing everything I need for the journey. Andy, who calls himself Backcountry Scot lent me a few bike bags so I can comfortably fit everything I need.
There are 3 main categories of things I need.
CLOTHES (I am cycling for 5 days so I am packing)
4 T-shirts (3 long sleeve and 1 top)
2 padded shorts
2 jumpers (one thin and one fleece)
Waterproof jacket and trousers
T-shirt and leggings for evenings
Hat and neckie
2 sets of warmer waterproof gloves and one windproof thin ones
2 spare inner tubes and a repair kit
Set of allen keys
Oats with dried milk and dehydrated fruit for breakfasts
Emergency chocolate bars
Homemade date bars
Burritos for lunch
Then I have a little first aid kit and toiletries, phone charger and power bank. I am also writing contact details of my hosts in case my phone dies.
In March 2018, I bought my bike in London. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so scared of cycling in London but I took a leap of faith and decided to overcome this fear. I fell in love with cycling and it became my main way of transport around London. Now, a year later, I am setting off to cycle from Scotland back to London where it all started. Only this time, it is 550 miles to go. The fear is back in a different form. I cannot wait to see what I discover about myself this time.
Face your fears. It will show you a whole different world and you will be able to reach places you never thought were possibility.