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Why Cancer Research?
The first time I raised money for Cancer Research was in September 2010 on a 100 mile cycle in the North West of England organised by Phil Reddy, one of our clients when I was still working at Locum Destination Consulting/Colliers International.
I did it on my old 1982 Alan and it felt like a big challenge then. That experience has encouraged me take up cycling properly, become a member of a cycling club and push my boundaries further.
What moved me most about this 100 mile fundraising ride was that Phil had just recovered from cancer of the eusophagus and had used time on his bike as a way to fight his illness. That day he was amazing, easily the fastest out of all of us. Shockingly we heard that he passed away only three months later as the cancer had hit him hard in the brain this time..
That resilience is something I plan to tap into now whenever I suffer on my bike.
Why 24 Hours?
I have upped the bar a bit after that first fundraising cycle challenge. From 100 miles in 2010 I went to cycling from London to Paris in 2011, again through work.
After another 2 years of training I now feel ready to up the challenge to 24 Hours.
Why Le Mans?
It's a unique chance to cycle on the legendary 1966 Bugatti Circuit and I quite fancy a relaxing holiday in France with cheese and wine afterwards.
Most people do Le Mans 24Hr Velo as a relay challenge in teams of 8, 6, 4 or 2 where they ride laps in turns and eat, sleep and relax in between.
I prefer to do it alone to really test my own limits.
I do however have the support from my fiance, my mum, her husband and their dog to force me to eat and drink and keep me sane :-)
So what's involved?
Each lap is 4185 meters with beautiful asphalt. Also plenty of curves, and a 600 meter climb with a gradient varying between 3.5% and 7% (until you crest it underneath the Dunlop bridge) and a 1000 meters of downhill at 2%.
Last year's solo female winner managed to complete 149 laps of the circuit, which is just shy of 624 kilometers or 387.7 miles, having made just 8 brief refuelling stops.
Time trial bikes or aero bars are not allowed. I think deep wheels are and need to check on aero helmet, but probably that's not allowed either.
No bottle hand ups etc; you can only refuel in the pitstop areas.
Drafting is allowed for a change, but as the relay teams will be going at far greater speeds (knowing they can chill out again after an hour or 2), that is probably of little use to me.
What's the goal?
The goal is to A: complete the 24 Hour challenge, B: win the solo women's competition, C: beat last years record and D: raise a lot of money for Cancer Research in the process.
Having just completed my first ever 12Hr non-stop cycling challenge this weekend (at a distance of 252.6 miles), I now feel confident I can actually reach my goals, do you all proud and commemorate Phil's and so many other cancer patients' resilience in style!
The update section only allows so many characters, so I hope you will spot my update here. Can't say thanks enough for being so generous in your donations to Cancer Research UK. At the times I was most tired memories of cycling with Phil (see above) and other people who sadly lost the battle against cancer really did help me to keep going. And the lap during which I reached my goal of beating last year's winner's distance, was unexpectedly an emotional one.
I think I am blessed to have been born with a huge inbuilt diesel and over time discovered that I generally do well at longer distance steady time-trial efforts. I have also been lucky I guess that despite doing some pretty tough challenges (including a 12Hr time trial) I actually never really suffered on my bike, always felt pretty strong and like I could at least managed half the distance again. This 24Hr was different though. I said I wanted to explore my limits, well I think I have found them! The first 12hr were really quite good fun and relatively easy, after that it got harder and harder. Maybe if I did a steady 24Hr time trial with comfortable aerobars it would be different. The weird thing about Le Mans 24Hr is that you easily get carried away. It is not a steady time trial, it really is a 24Hr race. So you try to jump in with fast groups passing by, pushing myself too hard up hill and uncountable number of sprints out of corners. It really does take it out of you. The 24Hr event started at 3pm and I had been up since 6am, no wonder my body started screaming for sleep at some point (I did not allow it though, just slapped my face).
In the end I climbed a total of 96,000 meter (at gradient between 3.5% and 7%) that is nearly 100 kilometer in 24 hours! I am not whippet like, so pretty challenging stuff.
Sorry - I am not finished with this update, but my numb fingers simply don't work anymore. I will continue later.
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