190 miles closer…to ending domestic violence

Rebecca Anderton-Davies, a Respect Trustee, cycled 190 miles to fundraise for Respect. Here’s the blog post she wrote:

We all know life has a tendency to go full circle. This circle starts and ends with a blog post.

In May 2014 I stumbled across a blog written by someone fairly new to cycling who had just completed their first ‘sportive’ (the official term for a mass-participation cycling event). The author chatted happily about the beautiful scenery, the camaraderie on the road, and pleasant ache of hard-worked muscles at the end of it. The event itself was the London Revolution: the largest multi-day sportive in the UK, covering some 190 miles around the home counties across two days, with most riders camping overnight at an organised site. I finished the post and clicked onto the next, making a mental note that if I ever got into endurance events, this one was much more up my street than a marathon. While knowing all the time that it was highly unlikely given (a) I’d only just got into cycling a couple of months previously, and that was still only a 5 mile each way commute to and from work, and (b) I am not one of these hyper-competitive glutton-for-punishment types so knew I would need a really strong catalyst to move from thinking about it to actually doing it.

Fast forward to April 2015 and one portion of that equation had changed. Unfortunately it was not the cycling part (my longest ever ride at that point was a still paltry 25 miles)! But I had become a trustee for Respect. Seeing the inside of an organisation such as this and realising what amazing work they do with ever diminishing resource was exactly the catalyst that I never expected to come along.

So I signed up.

And then I realised what I had got myself into.

I know how naïve this sounds, but I really hadn’t computed what 100 miles of riding, twice, would really entail. For my second training ride, on Easter Sunday, I rode from London to Brighton, some 55 miles.  It was around about the 30 mile mark, cold and tired and trying to wolf down as much food as possible while still keeping moving, that it really hit me. This was going to be hard. Really really hard.

The one advantage of signing up relatively late, was that I could just get my head down, cancel my social life, and dedicate the next 6 weeks to training. So that’s what I did. My cycling commute to/from work continued, but on top of that I added 3-4 spin classes a week, plus a 30-60mile ride at the weekend. This was about as much fun as it sounds, but I knew that ever extra fibre of muscle I built now would help me on the day.

Then the weekend was here. To be honest, at this point, I was just pretty pleased that the training was over! So again, I got my head down, got on my bike, and well, I did it! Here are the stats:

–          8820ft climbed (Ben Nevis is 4409ft high for reference)

–          6197 calories burnt

–          191.5 miles cycled

–          14hrs25min in the saddle

–          4 pit stops

–          2 days

–          1 sense of humour failure (when it looked like my overnight bag hadn’t made it to the campsite at Ascot racecourse)

–          0 punctures (unbelievably!)

So what were the highlights? The camaraderie between the 1500 odd participants was amazing (the blogger was right!), seeing some of the best of the British countryside (the south downs, the Chilterns) at a pace where you can really drink it in, realising that mother nature was going to bless us with warm dry weather for the whole weekend, and yes, the huge sense of achievement as the miles ticked by and as I crossed the finish line.

The lowlights? Saddle sore, saddle sore, saddle sore. Did I mention the saddle sore? Joking aside, when people told me that endurance sport is 80% mental and only 20% physical, I had never really believed the percentages were that way round. But, of course, they were right. As long as I ate and drank enough, and had a sufficiently comfortable pair of cycling shorts, I realised that my body probably keep going for a very long time. But my inner monologue was not on the same page – this hurts, this climb is too steep, this descent is too dangerous, you still have another 5 hours in the saddle, you have to do this all again tomorrow – on and on it went. I did not enjoy this constant battle!

Truly the only thing that kept me going to knowing that if I didn’t cross that finish line, none of the £5000 I had raised from generous friends and colleagues would make it to Respect. Could my temporary discomfort really compare to that of the people that Respect help on a daily basis? Not even close.

So here’s hoping that more than a few people stumble across this post and decide to sign up for an event that at first looked impossible. It is amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind (and body) to it, and it’s even more amazing when you do it for a cause such as ending domestic violence. 

Rebecca Anderton-Davies

If you would like to support the work Respect does, please visit http://respect.uk.net/donate/ to choose one of the many options available.

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