Personal Challenges

Today’s blog is a bit less cartoony and more personal, if that’s OK. I hope it may inspire someone out there to take a risk they wouldn’t otherwise have taken.

About June time last year, I started cycling regularly once a week. Previously, I’d seen 5 miles as a decent bike ride, and at times had even commuted to and from school that distance. In fact, people who’d asked about the distance had seemed impressed with it: “That’s a fair way” they’d say. So in June, I decided to make it a regular thing in the hope of regaining some body shape and lose a few pounds. Part of this was encouraged by an invite from a friend to do the London-Brighton bike ride. At 54 miles long, I felt this may take a day to do, but I was drawn in by the challenge.

My first 10 mile ride was  a threshold soon passed and I’d felt I’d done pretty well. However, on talking to people who actually did ride bikes a bit, I found that this was not the impressive feat I’d thought. So I downloaded a free app onto my phone.

The app measured distance, speed, produced cool graphs, and – importantly – recorded each ride I did. So I set targets. 10 mile rides turned into 14 mile rides, then into my first 20 miler. And I began riding twice a week.

The thing about data is that it’s possible to escape from. If I hadn’t ridden in 7 days, the app would be there to remind me. It forced me to go out often in order to avoid the numbers from slipping. My longest ride grew to 70 miles (with a cafe break in the middle!)

I set a target: 1000 miles by the end of the year. On 31 Dec, I’d done 1179 miles and lost over a stone in weight.

My targets for 2017 are to do 3000 miles over the year, to complete a triathlon, and do a 100-mile ride in a day. I’m looking forward to the London-Brighton BHF ride in June (and will be looking for sponsors!), but now the target is to do it in under 3 1/2 hours.

Reasons for sharing this? Well, it’s more than a cycling story: it’s the realisation that if you want to do something and set your mind to doing it, you can surprise yourself with how well you do in the end. At the start of the year, cycling 100 miles was unimaginable: now, it’s very attainable.

In 2014, I started Scartoons hoping to make ends meet. In 2017, I’m aiming to make it go places!

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