Cycling sucks. Well it used to for me – it was a self-destructive obsession. I started cycling during a low point in my mental and physical health. I was underweight and had a hip stress fracture due to obsessive over training for an ultra-marathon. I couldn’t run, so I started cycling…..
When I first started cycle touring, I followed the traditional approach of bike rack and panniers, with a bungie or two to hold my tent on with. My bike would weigh a ton, but I could carry everything I was prepared to haul around with me. I remember taking on the first leg of my round Britain ride........ As a woman who rides a 'small' bike and has a tendency to faff, I struggled to find a bike-packing saddle pack that worked for me.....
As daylight came, there was a short break in the worst of the rain....or maybe there wasn't, I was so wet it was difficult to tell. but the terrain eased up a little. Despite yet more mud and bigger puddles, it was rideable, and so for a while I made better progress. I was several hours now behind plan, which meant that I reached the Reigate Hill picnic area after the cafe there had opened.
There is something both scary and exciting about doing something for the first time. The reality is that you never know if you can do something until you try. You can spend your time talking about things, or actually living them. I do a bit of both, but in recent years I’ve decided that life is just too short to waste it dreaming. The things that 10 years ago I said I could never do..... well I’ve given many of them a good shot, with varying degrees of success. With every challenge I set myself, I’ve learned new things about myself. I’ve learned that I can do crazy things. But, I’ve also learned that I have developed a remarkable mental toughness for adversity, and will to carry on, even when many others might quit. I’ve also learned that Type 2 fun does exist, and you mostly don’t realise you had fun until after.
I'm still a little nervous if I'm honest about embarking on an off-road ultra that is approx 8 times in distance further than anything I have done so far in training. As someone who have never done this kind of thing before, one way to help me sort out my nerves has been to understand what the route is going to throw at me
Now that I had set myself on a course to complete the Great British Escapade I needed to get comfortable with off road riding. But with my Ribble CGR having a road set up, I needed to consider whether it was going to possible to make inexpensive changes to the bike to make it suitable, or if I would in fact be better off dusting off my old Specialized Rockhopper that had been languishing in the basement for years.