On Saturday 16th September, I chalked up another Sweat Pledge – to support Jason Crowley to cycle from Leeds to Scarborough (75+miles). Considering the furthest he'd previously cycled was 20 miles, this was quite a jump.
The pledge arose from back in July when I rode 150 miles to the coast and back to show the primary school kids at my son’s school just what is feasible by bike – by meeting them on their annual day trip to the coast.
At the time Jason (who I’d never met) simply responded to one of my tweets saying how he’d love to try it sometime but wasn’t sure….well that was enough for me, I persuaded him to have a crack at it!
First things, “Why?”… Mental strength (i.e. motivation) is a huge factor in a challenge and there’s no one size fits all. However, it became clear that Jason had a charity that he felt deserved support (from his personal experience) so that’s what we focused on. I’m the same, and find it helps me dig deep thinking of the support you give children for years to come for just a few hours of pain of your own.
Next step was to figure out the feasible challenge. I met with Jason (for the first time) on his commute ride in to work. He rode (briskly) 10 miles per day anyway, so that was a real bonus therefore I knew health was very positive. However, I found he doesn’t ride for recreation, just practical purposes and hadn’t done more than 20 miles. Therefore, a one-way ride to the coast with the train back seemed like the logical push.
For the weeks leading up to the ride I regularly headed out to meet with Jason on his ride in to work and offer advice. However, I took on the route planning (avoiding hills and busy roads), bike mechanicals pacing planning so that Jason could focus on charity. During this time, a friend of mine (Peter Marsey, another Sweatpledger) said he’d like to join – since I promised him I’d find him a longer ride than his 60 miles we’d done together in July .
On ride day, we started at the Farsley Cenotaph (I start all my challenges here, it’s now become my tradition) then met with Peter outside the hospital charity we were supporting.
In essence, we paced the ride very steadily – which takes effort and experience as fresh legs always want to push on. I think the run-leading I do every week, usually for beginners, helps with the empathy aspect to judge things. We maintained the key aspects of having micro rests for water and a quick bite but also broke the ride in to 4 stages with a large meal in the centre and coffee stops either side. The key was to arrive safely and we were booked on a train home so arriving early had no benefit overall.
I was pleased with how the route worked out. It ticked the boxes of being fairly direct, avoided hills especially near end when you feel it the most, quiet roads for 90% of it and cafes/pub positioned in the right places (harder than you think on countryside treks). I may package that route up as a ‘thing’ and see if others want to do it.
Jason did great throughout the ride though the fatigue did start to kick in for the last quarter. To be fair, that’s exactly how I wanted it to pan-out! At this point, you know you can finish it and have the motivation to continue (with a bit of digging) but by the time you get to the end you feel it was a genuine challenge.
Reaching Scarborough was lovely, just a descent down and on to the beach for a group photo. Timing impeccable to the plan – always useful confirmation for loved ones who were tracking. With 2 hours to spare before the train, we may have popped in to a bar…just to sit down obviously, no other reason.
The list of achievements on this ride impresses me, with Jason hitting over 80miles in a day (we cycled home after train) jumping from his previous 20 miles. Peter too hit 80 miles, up from his previous 60 miles BUT also gained a little cycle lead experience as he took pacing lead for some stretches. Importantly, we raised over £700 for Children’s Heart Surgery Fund! - a great big thank you to all the generous donators!
Personally all I’m hoping is that Jason and Peter are on their journey of realising you can do things you once thought you couldn’t. When that journey starts, things ramp up and easily cross over from challenge ‘events’ to applying the ‘can do’ attitude in every-day life – which also transfers to your children. I'm certainly in mid-leap right now…and love not knowing where I’m going to land!