December 22nd is notable in my calendar for two reasons. First, it's my daughter Abi's birthday. Who knew 31 years ago that I would be doing the other notable thing, an overnight bike ride on the shortest day of the year and on a night where there were weather warnings galore?
Shortly after my PBP ride, my daughter Abi sent me a message that took me by surprise a bit... "Mum, I think I'd like to ride LEL in 2021" My response, "Blimey, you don't do things by halves, do you? Have you any idea how hard that is?" I was so proud, and then promptly set about sending her advice about all the things she would need to consider, and ways to build up her mileage and progress to the really long miles. This 'advice' was mostly unwelcome, but that's what mums do, and it's certainly what I do.
It does seems that it's possible to get around the city quickly and efficiently by public transport, today it was a tram that would take us to the Brewery. The Heineken experience is on the site of the original Amsterdam Brewery, in what is now the centre of the city. Production has now moved elsewhere, and so the original brewing tanks and stables have been turned into an 'experience' for tourists. The moment you walk in young guides, all bubbly and full of enthusiasm, are dressed in the branded black clothes with green polka dot braces, or bow ties - they are excitable in a Disney kind of way, as if we are small children waiting to see Mickey Mouse for the first time.
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....