Monday, 1 June 2009

Enjoy the ride...

Just spent a fantastic weekend cycling with Anne in Dumfries and Galloway... the sun never stopped shining and we camped in the best site ever, thanks to Sam, Maggie and their kids! The roads were quiet, the hills were rolling and the scenery was gorgeous - and not a ginger beer in sight! It was a good practice... we managed about 20 miles on Saturday afternoon and about 40 miles on Sunday, in unrelenting heat. We didn't get burned and we didn't get heat exhaustion - result! It also reminded me why I opted to stay in hostels rather than camp on this trip... I didn't so much sleep as drift in and out of consciousness on Saturday night as I shifted from one uncomfortable position to another on the thermorest, bones creaking with every movement. Not exactly restful. If I ever have to do that again, I'm taking Rod's hammock!

Unfortunately, while biting the bullet and venturing into another council department today (at the invitation of another, I must point out) to be the unknown pariah begging for sponsorship money, I encountered a doozy who was keen to wax lyrical about their own feats of endurance, whilst making out my proposed journey to be substantially lacking in merit. I am under no illusion that we're breaking any world records with this ride, and maybe in some people's eyes it's not much of a feat, but it's a challenge for me and that's what counts. I can only assume he felt his manhood was being threatened.

He really got to me, partly because the ride's so personal. So time for a note to self: that it really doesn't matter what other people think, because I'm doing this anyway - some people will be into it, some won't.

As a project, I'm finding the whole thing quite interesting. The training has not been straightforward - I've found out that downloading a cycle training programme and just following it doesn't really happen! Does mountain-biking count? What if you feel ill? What if you want to enjoy the weekend with people who don't cycle? What if you have a job?! And with intensive exercise comes a whole new eating regime - I didn't clock on to this at first (when I was probably overdoing the exercise!) and spent a good few weeks feeling like I was going to fall over! I totally underestimated the importance of protein.

However, the training rides with Anne, Kate and other friends have been really great. We've often been out when, without the incentive, we would have looked at the cloud and postponed a trip. Often in these cases, the cloud has given way to sunshine, which has been amazing.

The journey planning has been a learning curve too - trying out all kinds of different ways to plan the route (mixing on line route suggestions with paper maps) and then putting together all my research. Oh, and having several failed attempts to plot the final route online with Kate and Anne... for some reason (nothing to do with alcohol whatsoever) this never quite worked as a joint exercise! If only we'd found Map My Ride earlier, it would have been easier!

And then there's the sponsorship - the whole point of this endeavour is to raise money for Alzheimer's Research. I decided to make it a lot more meaningful for myself, but the money is the bottom line. I hate asking for sponsorship money, and I've really had to suppress my apprehension about approaching people for this! Wherever possible, it's been passive - at the bottom of emails, in newspaper articles, texts - directing people to the Justgiving website. But some folks like to do things in a more tangible way, hence the need for sponsorship forms and collecting tins... Argh! Again, my tactic has been to recruit other people in this task so I don't actually have to do it myself! My Dad has excelled in this department. Face-to-face, asking people for money is a very humbling experience; perhaps only a fleeting relationship with a complete stranger, but one in which the power is totally in the hands of the person with the 50p!

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