Last year I had the pleasure of joining some fantastic people on a charity bike ride to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. It was organised by Bike the UK for MS, who run cross country bike ride for Multiple sclerosis research and awareness. We had such a great time, raised loads of money for MS and it made me want to do something similar again.
On a whim, I decided to cycle roughly 500 miles from London to Edinburgh, but rather than just cycling there, I thought it would be great to meet people with MS along the way to deliver 1-2-1 training sessions with them. So that’s what I’m doing.
Why am I doing this? Well, I grew up with my Mum who had MS. Sadly, I lost her to MS related complications in 2012, but I’ve been doing my best to help others with MS improve their lives through health and fitness since 2008.
Since then I’ve seen so many people with MS face incredible challenges so I want to put myself through this huge challenge in order to raise funds for multiple sclerosis charities (MS-UK, MS Society & Bike the UK for MS).
The only problem is…I haven’t ridden a bike since the charity ride last summer. You’ve all heard the phrase “If you don’t use it, you lose it” which basically means I’m in no fit state to do this ride. I’m 15 pounds heavier and my legs haven’t done any endurance activity for over a year. This means I need to try and lose as much weight as possible over the next month and start getting out on the bike.
A month isn’t very much time to prepare for something like this. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to rely on some residual fitness and I’m telling myself “what can go wrong?” but the reality is that this is going to be an incredibly challenging event for me.
In theory I should be able to cycle 50 miles in around 4 hours. I’m trying my first ride tomorrow to see what that feels like. For the actual event, it’s a case of riding around 50 miles in the morning, training a person with MS, fuelling up and then cycling another 50 miles in the afternoon, training another person with MS, eating dinner, going to sleep and repeating the process for the following 4 days.
To put this into perspective, the charity ride last summer was 150 miles over 3 days with a support crew and team of comrades. This is 5oo miles over 5 days on my own. No support crew, just some very kind individuals who’ve offered me lunch or dinner and a place to stay. You can see the route and my home visit points below.
Back to my question “what could go wrong?”. Well, I think the biggest issue is running out of fuel in a place where there are no shops to buy more food. Cycling is an endurance activity which means I should be able to go on for ever, assuming I keep refuelling along the way.
The point at which my carbohydrate resources run dry is when it becomes VERY difficult to go on. I’ve made this error in the past on long rides and I couldn’t go on. The only solution is to eat and wait until the food is digested and my muscles are fuelled up again. Regular consumption of carbohydrates along the way should be enough to prevent this from happening again, but this will take a bit of planning as I’ll only be travelling with a small backpack.
Other things which could go wrong are punctures, getting lost, bad weather, getting hit by cars or gaining injuries. The route becomes quite rural towards the northern part of England and I’m not familiar with the terrain. The thought of getting stuck on my own in the middle of nowhere scares me. However, I’ll do what I can to mitigate for these things and all being well, I’ll find myself arriving in Edinburgh on the Friday evening in one piece where I hope to be greeted by a few people at from the Scotland MS Society and their local connections.
Well that’s the plan anyway. All I need to do before then is a month of healthy eating, lots of cycling and lots of route planning. What could go wrong indeed?
If you would like to help me with this cause donate by clicking the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/dom-thorpe-london-edinburgh
p.s. As it stands I could still do with some willing people looking for a training session/hosting session for lunch in or around the Stevenage to Cambridge area and a dinner/exercise host in or around/west of the Berwick upon Tweed area. If that’s you, get in touch.