Last Monday, I went on a challenge to raise money for World Vision and cycled almost 63Km (39 miles) in the hilly and stunning countryside of the Peak District.
We started from the Youth Hostel in Eyam where we stayed, cycled to our first stop in Buxton, then through the delicious village of Bakewell, where we had longer stop and then back up to Eyam.
Not a cyclist!
Whilst I consider myself fit, I’m not a big fan of endurance sports and I’ve never had the experience to cycle on the road and for such a distance. Cycling for me, is a fun way to go from A to B and see some nice scenery on the way. I also didn’t have time to practice since both our practice sessions were cancelled, one due to the weather, and the other because I got bitten by a bug, and my ankle swelled up like a balloon!
So this was definitely a challenge and I didn’t know what to expect!
Cyclists at the ready!
The nine of us were well equipped though, with a few cyclists in the group who took care of briefing us about the route, the ‘codes’ to stay safe on the road and who supported the less experienced cyclists like me, so that no-one was left behind.
We were told, there were three high climbs! Indeed there was, but not only that, loads of ups and downs in between. So the legs were constantly being challenged, as going downhill goes fast whilst going uphill is much slower! Plus, sharing the busy roads with lorries, buses and tractors overtaking us or crossing us on narrow roads was also challenging.
The first real climb which went from 13% to 17% incline at some point, was a disaster. I just couldn’t stay on my bike, and had to come off and push it! I wasn’t the only one, it was tough! Both my legs and lungs just gave up. Couldn’t do any more.
The second climb was more gentle but long, and whilst I stayed on the bike, by the end of it, my muscles were super stiff and started to cramp up, especially the thighs.
Getting ready for the last climb
I took the opportunity at one of our stop to recover as much as possible before the final climb, which I was a bit anxious about.
At first I pushed myself, standing up, pressing down as hard as I could on the pedals. But this tempo, whilst giving me a little boost to start with was not sustainable. And whilst I overtook the lady who’s an experienced rider, I knew I wouldn’t last very long, and will have to stop and push my bike.
Learning the technique
I decided to slow right down, like my colleague, and follow her pace, which was so slow, I could have walked beside her comfortably. But this was the way to go. Whilst I thought that my hybrid bike wouldn’t be great for this challenge, the fact that I had a good range of gears was a saviour.
I put my bike on the lowest gear, and just kept going! Super slow, but steady and made it to the top!
What I learned: slow down!
What I’ve learned during this challenge is such a great metaphor for life. Life can be hard, and it’s OK to push through at times but you can’t push through for too long otherwise you burn out. And at some point you’ll have to slow down or even stop to recover.
So when life throws at us a bigger challenges, it’s not about pushing through, it’s about finding the right rhythm that will keep us going, so that we don’t burn out.
With the correct pace achieved, we can actually go so much further than we thought we would.
So, this was my big life lesson: go steady, slowly and you can achieve so much!
Here’s the blog that one of my fellow cyclist (much more experienced than me) wrote: https://www.veloann.com/post/cycling-the-peaks-for-a-great-cause. Super grateful to have shared this cycling challenge with such wonderful people. I’ll definitely do this again.
At the time of writing, I’ve reached 68% of my fundraising target, please help me reach 100%: just £5 will feed a hungry child for 2 weeks. Thank you 🙏