Departing at dawn on 3rd September 2017, I joined riders on the Manchester to London challenge as they headed south on a route that threaded its way through the heart of England before finishing at Ambitious about Autism’s TreeHouse school.
Described as ‘220 miles of hard British riding’, it’s almost inevitable that you focus inwards. The chatter ceasing as the pace line forms. Decisions reduced to your turn on the front before dropping back to recover. On the need to keep eating and drinking. To keep moving forward.
Later in the day – raw emotion etched across faces – it seemed fitting that, though each individual may have had their own starting point in terms of fitness and cycling experience, in riding together they all shared the same finish line.
I knew it was going to be a tough day but everybody pulled each other through. And rather than be negative when things got difficult we chose to look at the positives. Each mile, every metre of climbing; a step nearer to our goal. Enough to keep you moving forward. At the finish, that’s the poorliest I’ve ever felt on the bike. Suffering with dehydration and hypothermia. One of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do but, as much as it was hard work and it hurt, it still didn’t break me. Sarah
I think it’s an amazing achievement that we finished. And it’s definitely a case of mind over matter. You can make yourself push past limits you never thought possible. I’m proud of my body and how far it went. Crying helps. As does swearing. But all of this was only possible because of the company on the road. Everyone looking out for each other. Karly
It was tough. Well over twice what I’d ever ridden before. And I had moments when I did wonder why I was doing it. But I came out of it releasing that I’ve completed something that I wasn’t absolutely sure was possible. With the knowledge that if you put your mind to a task, if you just keep going, then it’s surprising what you can achieve. David
Such a hard ride. A brutal headwind but we all worked well as a team. You learn how deep you can go and that, mentally, we’re all so strong. You just have to keep going and, when you cross the finish line, you realise it was worth the effort. Hannah
There’s a point where things start to get really hard. Hurting all over and weary from the long hours of riding, just sitting down in the warm community hall at the final feed stop was a welcome relief. But there was still the need to step out again into the dark and the rain; the grim reality of two more hours of effort. And that’s when companions come into their own. You’re not venturing out alone. We worked together, suffered together and finished together. This is what I’ll always remember. Adrian