It’s now six weeks or so since I finished the ride and Ive had plenty of time to think it all through and reflect. What went well, what didn’t, what, if I did it again, would I do differently?
What went well?
It did! Leaving aside some wet and windy days, which were obviously out of my control (it was summertime after all!), the route worked really well, there were only a few times, mainly through inattention, that I lost the route. There were no bits where I regretted having decided to ride that way and whilst there were some steep bits, it was all achievable.
Physically, there wasn’t a point where I didn’t think I could continue, and the tender legs that developed over the first couple of days soon disappeared. Every day, I felt fitter and stronger, and the daily routine became slicker. Up at eightish, a good breakfast and then get myself and the bike ready for the day’s action.
The bike held out until 30km from the end when a spoke on my back wheel broke. Once the broken one was wrapped around a neighbour, it was fine to continue! And I did manage to break the presta valves on my inner tubes a couple of times (which did cause panic in Bedford when I discovered my spare tube didn’t fit my wheel!)
The ride was to raise money for the MND Association and to try and raise awareness of the disease. Working closely with the MNDA helped as they obviously have access to local groups and an established route into the media. Meeting the local groups along the way was a high spot of the ride and gave meaning to it as well.
The stroke of intentional genius was calling the ride The Great Ness Ride and ticking off as many Nesses along the way as I could. It was a great hook and one that the Press Association picked up on. Their piece was picked up by BBC R4 and R2 and many national and local papers and whilst it didn’t raise much extra funds, the awareness it raised for MND was priceless.
Not much, really – preparation is key, and I was pleased that I seemed to cover most bases. Sue did a fantastic job supporting me, meeting me in cafés and similar along the way and being on hand just in case I needed her. It wasn’t a holiday for Sue, though, driving the length of the UK, and there were times when it was almost as quick to ride a stretch as it was to drive.
What would I do differently?
I was disappointed with the lack of local business support and, on reflection, I felt that I should have done a better job in cajoling them. Fund-raising is an art and one I am still learning.
Riding on my own was interesting and not as boring as I first imagined it might be. That said, last year’s Cork to Tideswell ride was better for having Mark riding with me and Jill accompanying Sue. But solo riding for so long gives one chance to think, nothing earth-shattering though, and to get to know one’s own strengths and weaknesses.