After a good few stagnant months over winter I was feeling more sluggish and unfit than ever so, in an attempt to get motivated, I joined my local gym. Then I heard about the Nightrider 100km cycle challenge through following WWF UK on Twitter and in a moment of madness signed up.
“100 km, that’s just five sets of 20 and I have twelve weeks to train for it,” I thought. I knew it was going to be a push, but it was just what I needed.
Maybe it was all the talk of the Olympics and WWF UK’s coverage of Ben Fogle committing to the challenge that contributed to my impulsive sign up. A few comments from friends later, such as “Really? 100km, that’s a serious distance: it will take a huge amount of training” and “What? You don’t even have a bike!” my confidence was starting to waiver!
However, I don’t back out easily so stubborn determination took over and I got in touch with a personal trainer. That’s when the work started. My trainer helped me to look at a realistic training plan with a balanced diet for energy and repair. I started off in the gym on the exercise bike, building gradually and waiting for the clocks to change to enable more outdoor cycling through the spring. The training in the gym was hard, but the fun was about to begin. I bought a hybrid GT bike and as a soon as I switched over to outdoor training I appreciated just how much I’d been missing by being stuck in the car.
Having moved to Cambridgeshire just a couple of years ago and having the lovely Bedfordshire countryside within a few miles, I started to plan new routes where I discovered pretty streams, an abundance of wild flowers and wildlife, lovely sunsets, huge expanses of skyline and some stunning graffiti art. Okay, I have also seen quite a bit of fly-tipping and road kill, but let’s not dwell on that.
As my fitness increased I started to feel better in myself, and as the donations for WWF started to come in, I realised that taking part in this challenge means so many things to me. It’s just the beginning of lots of changes.
I’m passionate about the work that WWF do, and this challenge gave me the opportunity to really demonstrate that and to spread awareness, albeit on a small scale, through my friends, family and colleagues. I’m fortunate to work within a company that values the environment and I am a member of the working party where we regularly discuss environmental issues. We conduct an environmental induction for employees through which we raise awareness of sustainability issues.
To achieve people living in harmony with nature, WWF spend time working with communities, politicians and businesses to find ways to share the Earth’s resources fairly. I’ve set a personal target to raise £500 and of that just £10 could buy 40 seedlings to help replant the forests of Tanzania, £25 could pay a Rhino Protection Unit ranger’s salary for ten days, £100 could pay for the training of one villager, in Borneo, as an Honorary Wildlife Warden, £200 could buy a camera trap to film tigers in Huai Kha Khaeng, Thailand.
For me, that’s well worth all of the pedaling and I will definitely be continuing to cycle wherever possible, instead of using the car, as part of my personal long-term sustainability plan for the future.
The Nightrider challenge takes part on 9 June when I will set out from Alexandra Palace in London at 1am. I am currently riding up to 40km so I have a way to go yet and, with just over five weeks left, I’m now training four to five times a week, with one or two killer spin classes thrown in here and there. Wish me luck!
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