Today feels a little odd...we are off to Amsterdam for a few days. The land of the bicycle, and yet bikes are not the main feature of this trip. This weekend is all about running....The Amsterdam marathon to be precise.
There is significant evidence that there is a link between physical activity and improved mental health and wellbeing. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognise exercise as a treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions. I believe it's no accident that mental health charities benefit so well from charity runs and cycle rides. Running and cycling are so inclusive, and participants come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. In these worlds there genuinely is something for everyone.
The post that follows is not anything like I thought I would write about it, but I think it's important. It's very personal to me, and I've rarely discussed it, but I think that many others out there may be able to relate, and so this story will be told. I want to explain why it was so important to me to complete it, ideally within time, but even out of time if necessary. The reason is not what you would expect.
Waking up on Saturday morning, we were able to watch all the bikes riding past us on their way to the bike checks.
This time next week we will be in France heading towards Rambouillet, outside of Paris, to the start of the 2019 Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Randonnuer. For me, this has been a long time coming. After having abandoned after 900km in 2015 due to serious sleep deprivation, I’ve had a lot of time to consider what I did wrong and how to right it.
I had unfinished business with this ride. 4 years earlier this was my first attempt at a 600k, and a massive eye opener with regards to fuelling and sleep deprivation. However, all that aside, I had loved the ride, and the support and organisation made it one of the best Audax events in the calendar, especially if you were a novice like me.
Despite having a lovely, but shorter ride in Wales, and knowing I had made the right decision to quite, the old feelings of doubt became to surface. What if I really am just not good enough? What if just getting there is always going to be this hard? Maybe I really should just give up this dream and go touring instead? But I had put so much effort in already, and a fair bit of money. I didn’t want to give up just yet....
I turned up in Chepstow, and looked around the rather smaller than normal group of entrants. Everyone looked very fit and capable, and then I also noticed the lack of women on the ride. In normal years the ride attracts a mixed bag of riders. There’s no doubt this is a challenging event...after all, it covers the width of Wales, and ventures into the Brecon Beacons in both directions. But, it is such a beautiful and iconic ride that many Audaxers like to give it a try.